75th Anniversary – Day of Infamy – Pearl Harbor – Matson Line’s SS Lurline caught in the middle of WW 2.

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The SS Lurline made her destination safely, cruising at maximum speed from Honolulu to San Francisco, and soon returned to Hawaii with her Matson sisters SS Mariposa and SS Monterey in convoy laden with troops and supplies. December 7, 1941, was a turning point in the history of the United States, which had been teetering on a decision between isolationism ... Read More »

The MS St. Louis carried Jewish refugees desperate to flee Nazi Germany on a voyage of the damned.

Six months after the Nazis celebrated Kristallnacht, the German transatlantic liner MS St. Louis sailed on May 13, 1939, from Hamburg Germany. The voyage became a symbol of American and Canadian heartlessness, xenophobia, and anti-Semitism. Flags were flapping in the wind and well-wishers waved from the Hamburg pier. On board, the eight-deck ship were 938 paying passengers, all but one ... Read More »

Cruising on the SS Yale and the SS Harvard between San Francisco and Los Angeles during the “Roaring Twenties”!

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The SS Yale and SS Harvard became known as “white Flyers of the Pacific”! The sister ships each made four sailings a week, carrying 565 First Class passengers at an average speed of 23 knots between the two major California cities. The fast coastal ships provided an overnight cruise on the Pacific. They were a very popular way for traveling between ... Read More »

“Give ’em hell” Harry! President Truman aboard his 1948 campaign train heading to win re-election.

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Faced with the likely loss of the 1948 presidential elections, President Harry S. Truman set out from Washington on September 17 on a twelve-day cross-country political barnstorming trip aboard the “Truman Special” from Washington Union Station. The barnstorming “Truman Special” makes a whistle-stop. At the last minute, wealthy Democrats had come through with last-minute contributions to make sure the “Truman Special” ... Read More »

Ships and Liners of Messageries Maritimes

MS Caledonien in Sydney Harbor,  from the collection of Richard Francis (taken February 1970).

Messageries Maritimes was a French merchant shipping company. It was originally created in 1851 as Messageries Nationales, later called Messageries impériales, and from 1871, Compagnie des Messageries Maritimes, casually known as “MesMar” or by its initials “MM”. Its rectangular house flag, with the letters MM on a white background and red corners, was famous in shipping circles, especially on the ... Read More »

SP’s Streamliner COAST DAYLIGHT – The most beautiful train in the world

Going first class on board the Southern Pacific's Coast Daylight in the Observation Parlor Car.

The Southern Pacific’s Streamliner Coast Daylight was the West’s finest train into the 1950s, linking Los Angeles and San Francisco in a glorious daylight trip, streaking along the edge of the Pacific Ocean for more than a hundred breathless miles. Chair car passengers had full access to the Coffee Shop, Diner, and Tavern cars. The two Parlor cars were restricted ... Read More »

History of Cruising… from the BRITANNIA to the LOVE BOAT…

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  The earliest ocean-going vessels were not primarily concerned with passengers, but rather with the cargo that they could carry. Black Ball Line in New York,?in 1818, was the first shipping company to offer regularly scheduled service from the United States to England and to be concerned with the comfort of their passengers. By the 1830s steamships were introduced and ... Read More »

“LUSCIOUS” LUCIUS BEEBE… first major celebrity to have a publicly open gay relationship and a lover of trains…

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San Francisco Chronicle columnist Lucius Beebe was probably the first gay men and major celebrity to have a publicly open relationship. An author, journalist, historian, raconteur, gourmet and bon vivant extraordinary – this extraordinary personality was world famous and a long time columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. He loved trains and had his own private railway car. From the 1930s until ... Read More »

MS STOCKHOLM – Collided with the Italian Line’s SS ANDREA DORIA…

Passengers aboard the Andrea Doria.

MS STOCKHOLM – Collided with the Italian Line’s ANDREA DORIA. The Italian press called the Stockholm the “ship of death” (La nave della morte). The Stockholm returning to New York after her collision with the Andrea Doria. Her bow severely damaged. Public rooms, the pool and staterooms aboard the Stockholm. Dining on the Stockholm At 525 feet (160.02 m) with ... Read More »

Gateway to San Francisco in the 1950s. Streamliners, the SP ferries and the Oakland Pier.

Passengers have just arrived on mid-1950s morning aboard the City of San Francisco from Chicago after a 39 1/2 hour trip (the fastest thing on wheels) and are heading to the ferry for a quick cruise across the bay to the San Francisco Ferry Building.

Southern Pacific Railroad’s OAKLAND PIER in the 1950s… Gateway to San Francisco… Southern Pacific was one of the nation’s major railroads with headquarters in San Francisco. It was taken over by the Union Pacific Railroad Afternoon commuters stream from SP ferry Sacramento at Oakland Pier in the early 1950s. At the peak of Service, SP’s Steamer Division handled over 26 ... Read More »