National Register of Historic Places in Marin County

Wreck of the Steamship Tennessee in Bolinas Bay
Lithograph From The Annals of San Francisco
(Click Photo to Zoom)
National Register #81000102
Steamship Tennessee Remains
Address Restricted
Bolinas Bay
Wrecked 1853

March 6, 1853

The Pacific mail steamship Tennessee went ashore this morning at Tagus Beach, in Bolinas Bay, about three or four miles north of the Heads, at the entrance to the Bay of San Francisco.

Dense fogs, which had misled the captain as to the ship's position, were the cause of the vessel striking the shore. These fogs are very prevalent along the coast, and have often been the cause of serious shipwrecks.

The Tennessee had about six hundred passengers on board, one hundred of whom were women and children. By happy chance, the ship went upon a small, sandy beach, on both sides of which at a short distance were enormous cliffs, on which if the vessel had struck she would have gone immediately to pieces, and probably most of those on board would have perished. As it was, and the sea being smooth, the passengers were all safely landed, as well as the mail-bags and express matter.

It was expected that the Tennessee would afterwards have been safely towed off. The Goliah and the Thomas Hunt, steam-tugs, were sent to perform that operation; but after some trials, it was found to be impracticable. After removing therefore a considerable quantity of cargo, stores, &c., the vessel was abandoned, and shortly afterwards went to pieces.

From The Annals of San Francisco by Frank Soulé, John H. Gihon, M.D., and James Nisbet, published 1855

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