National Register of Historic Places in San Francisco

Whaling Bark Lydia in San Francisco, 1899
Whaling Bark Lydia in San Francisco, 1899
Courtesy Mystic Seaport Image Archive
(Click Photo to Zoom)
National Register #81000173
Shipwreck of Whaling Bark Lydia
Buried at the Foot of King Street

Lydia, a wooden hulled whaler built in 1840, was laid up in 1907. Her remains are buried at the foot of King Street.

Owned by the city and county of San Francisco.

Listed in the National Register as nationally significant.

National Park Service Abandoned Shipwreck Act Guidelines

In 1980, the whaler, Lydia, was discovered during sewer construction at the foot of King Street near Pier 42. Historians believed she was placed there in 1907.

According to a newspaper article, "In the buried hull they found a sense of twenty-four bottles of 'high class' ginger beer brewed between about 1860 and 1906 by A. S. Watson and Co., Ltd. of Hong Kong and Manila."

SFgeneology website: Buried Ships

In 2005 Mystic Seaport Museum received, in database form, the whaling ledger of 19th century San Francisco shipping master James Laflin. A hardcopy of this ledger is accessible at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park.

Lydia is included in this database.

By the mid-1880s, the center of whaling activity had shifted from New Bedford to San Francisco. More than two dozen whaling vessels set out each year from San Francisco's piers, along with numerous schooners in search of seals and otter. Every man who shipped out, save the captain and certain mates, shipped through James Laflin between 1881 and Laflin's death in 1905. Every man's name is recorded in Laflin's pages, and every shanghaier signed that ledger when he or she received their due bill.

The database contains the names of shanghaiers and crewmen (those shanghaied) as well as vessels and voyages. Crewmen on each voyage and the advance the shanghaier collected for them are listed.

Harry "Horseshoe" Brown leads the list in 1890, receiving $9,310 which represented sixteen percent of all advances. In today's dollars, he received $180,000. A few short years later he had wasted his money and, despondent over his change in fortunes, he murdered his wife and committed suicide.

James Laflin received the salutation of captain in later life, a term of respect for long-time inhabitants of San Francisco's waterfront.

Mystic Seaport website: San Francisco Shanghaiers by Bill Pickelhaupt

Shipwrecks on the west coast:
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