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National Register of Historic Places in San Francisco

National Register #73000229: EUREKA Steam Ferryboat 4 July 2010
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National Register #73000229
EUREKA Steam Ferryboat
Hyde Street Pier
Built 1890

The historic ferry EUREKA (formerly known as UKIAH) is moored in an early 20th Century ferry slip at Hyde Street Pier, a unit of the National Maritime Museum.

As she exists today EUREKA represents a now vanished class of wooden-hulled ferryboats and incorporates design elements from her original construction in 1890 and alterations in 1922.

Built in 1890, the ferry steamer UKIAH had the following dimensions:

  • Overall length: 291'
  • Beam at waterline: 42'
  • Beam at guardrails: 78'
  • Depth of hold: 14' 2"
  • Draw of water: 6' 6"
  • Gross displacement: 2,564 tons
  • Net displacement: 2,019 tons

She was propelled by two side paddlewheels located amidships. These radial paddlewheels, still mounted, are 27' in diameter with 24 buckets that are 22" wide by 12' 9" long. The wheels were covered by a housing that arched above the level of the top (hurricane) deck.

Built to carry ten railroad freight cars and five hundred passengers, UKIAH had two sets of standard gauge tracks that ran the length of the main deck. Passenger accommodations were on the upper deck.

UKIAH was fitted with a walking beam engine manufactured by Fulton Iron Works at San Francisco an engine which remains unaltered to this day with the exception of a life-time of in-kind repairs. Steam was originally supplied by four direct flue return tube boilers burning coal. Due to the cost of maintenance they were replaced in 1914 by Freeman Dryback Boilers. In these boilers an oil flame was forced through a burner into the combustion chamber.

As UKIAH, she carried railroad cars across San Francisco Bay for SF&NPRR (San Francisco and North Pacific Coast Railroad), a steam railroad. She later was converted to connect with passengers from the interurban electric commuter railway run by NWPRR (Northwestern Pacific Railroad).

During the First World War, UKIAH was used to ferry heavy loads of railroad cars across the bay for the United States Railroad Administration. The strain was too much for the old boat, and the Northwestern Pacific Railroad obtained federal funds to renovate the sagging hull. UKIAH was rebuilt at the Southern Pacific yards in Oakland between 1920-1922, and emerged as the auto/passenger ferry EUREKA.

EUREKA was 97% new, as UKIAH was completely rebuilt from the waterline up of indigenous woods. Douglas Fir was used for the hull repairs and cedar was used in the superstructure. Her original engine remained intact and unaltered with the exception of the wooden A-frame, which was replaced by one of riveted steel to better withstand engine vibration. The main deck was lengthened from 291' to 299' 6" to accommodate up to 120 automobiles. The second (passenger) deck was greatly expanded to accommodate 2,300 passengers.

EUREKA catered to the increased automobile traffic that drastically altered transportation economics across the country. Those economics found their local expression in the building of the Golden Gate Bridge, which forced Marin County ferryboat service out of existence in 1941.

The last chapter of EUREKA's life was to connect with Southern Pacific's transcontinental railroad trains at the Oakland Station, and take passengers and baggage to San Francisco an association with the end of a transportation era which began with the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869. When Eureka's crankpin snapped on February 10, 1957, she was towed to dock and not put back into service. The ferry SAN LEANDRO brought an era to a close when she made the final transbay ferry run on July 10, 1958.

In 1963, after a three-year restoration, EUREKA was deeded to the California State Park system which opened her for display in San Francisco Maritime State Historic Park. In 1977 Eureka and the rest of the historic ships were transferred to the National Park Service, where they remain on display as part of the important resources of ships, artifacts, and library collections known as the National Maritime Museum, San Francisco.

Excerpted from the NRHP Nomination Form.

EUREKA is a National Historic Landmark.

Aquatic Park and Vicinity

Hyde Street Pier Pier 45
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