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Last of the Cape Horn fleet, at a new home in San Francisco.

On her most recent voyage, th 102-year-old square-rigger Balclutha made a short crossing to an new home at the Hyde Street Pier, part of the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. Her arrival at the nation's newest national park consolidates the largest collection (by tonnage) of historic ships perserved in any museum in the world.

The Balclutha, last of the West Coast's Cape Horn fleet, holds

a special place in Western maritime history. One of the oldest

ships on the coast (San Diego's Star of India is older but much smaller), the Balclutha is also the only survivor of the country's final great gathering of full-rigged sailing vessels-the Alaskan salmon packer fleet.

On her maiden voyage, in 1886, the Balcutha sailed to San Francisco from Scottland; she eventually made some 17 trips around the Horn hauling grain and coal. Later, the ship joined the lumber schooner fleet running along the West Coast. She also briefly flew the Hawaiian national flag-the last ship at sea to do so. From 1902 until the 1930s, she worked the Alaska salmon trade. In 1954, rotting and part of a nearly forgotten past, the ship was rescued by concerned San Franciscans. Once restored, she inspired the creation of what ultimately grew into the fleet of historic vessels at the national park.

Above, you see the Balclutha-fully dressed out with all flags

flying-on her way to join the rest of the historic fleet at Hyde Street Pier. The riveted steel-and iron-hulled ship shows the same colors she wore when launched; notice the black-painted false gunports, a common 1880s protective measure. Unseen tugs on her far side slowly moved the ship 1/2 mile from Pier 43 at Fisherman's Wharf to her new permanent berth.

The Hyde Street Pier is in Aquatic Park, near Ghirardelli Square. Besides the Balclutha, you can visit the lumber schooner C.A. Thayer, the scow Alma (scheduled to be back from repair), the paddle tug Eppleton Hall, and the side-wheel ferry Eureka; all are open from 10 to 6 daily.

The future looks bright for this new maritime park. It creation

represents a long-term Park Service commitment to preserving the West Coast's maritime heritage.
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Title Annotation:Balclutha
Publication:Sunset
Date:Sep 1, 1988
Words:362
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