Sunday, April 24, 2011

Abandoned Things: The Garden City

The Garden City, 1980
Copyright by Kevin Scanlon, all rights reserved,
used by permission

The Garden City was a Southern Pacific steam ferry on San Francisco Bay in her glory days more than a century ago, and on one occasion she even flew the Belgian Flag as she carried the King and Queen of Belgium to a reception in San Francisco. The ship was retired in 1929 and moved to the Carquinez Strait where she was used for other purposes. By the time Kevin and I first saw her in the early 1980s, she was in ruin.

In the spring of 1981, we spent some time photographing the 4449 Daylight, a restored steam locomotive which was headed to Sacramento for the opening of the new California State Railroad Museum. We had our own brush with royalty in Dunsmuir, where a crowd of onlookers had come out to see the engine when it stopped in town. A particularly interesting looking old man, who leaned on a big walking stick and carried a plastic-wrapped bundle on his back, turned out to be Fry Pan Jack, King of the Hobos. Closer to the Bay Area near the Carquinez Strait, we’d scouted out a spot to photograph the Daylight from a hillside where the train would go past the abandoned Garden City, which was moored and rotting just beyond the tracks at Port Costa.

4449 Daylight and The Garden City, 1981
Copyright by Dory Adams, all rights reserved

Over the years I’d wonder about the fate of the Garden City and whether she continued to deteriorate at the strait. It turns out she finally met her end when hill fires swept through the area in 1983, just a year after we’d moved east from California. Not a happy ending to the story of the Garden City, but fortunately the 4449 Daylight still steams gloriously on.

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Maui Mike said...

Thanks for posting this piece about the GARDEN CITY. I photographed the boat in 1974 when it was still in relatively good shape, but I didn't know anything about its history. Lately I posted that photo on my blog and so got interested again in hunting down the name and history of the boat. Your post helped immensely! Would it be okay for me to cite your post when I do my update post on the photo of the GARDEN CITY? You can see the photo HERE:!i=1943989503&k=C74rHqg

Thanks again!

Maui Mike

Dory Adams said...

Hi Mike,
Glad you enjoyed my post and that the information was helpful. You are welcome to cite my post or link to it when you update your post about the Garden City.