The Hyde Street Pier in San Francisco is located just to the west of Fisherman’s Wharf and at the termination point of the Powell/Hyde cable car line. The pier is home to many historical boats that date back over a century and that have sailed rivers and all the world’s oceans. Restored back to their original condition to the time periods they were most heavily utilized, any history buff visiting San Francisco will want to make a visit to the pier. Beyond the showcase of the historical boats, the Hyde Street Pier is a piece of San Francisco history in its own right as before the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges were built it served as the main departing and arrival dock for ferries headed to Marin via Sausalito and the east bay via Berkeley.
There are six historical boats docked at the Hyde Street Pier and are maintained by the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. They are the Balclutha, C.A. Thayer, Eureka, Aima, Hercules and Eplleton Hall. Access to all the boats is fairly easy and anyone can go right up next to them on the dock for an up close view or to take a photograph. However those visitors seeking to board one of these historical vessels will need to pay a $5.00 fee at the front booth at the entrance to the dock. They will then issue you a sticker to place on the front of your clothing so they will know you are a paid visitor.
The Balclutha is perhaps the boat that stands out the most on the pier. Dating back to 1886 this vessel was built in Scotland and was used to transport grains shipped to San Francisco from the central valley to Europe. During the high salmon season in Alaska the Balclutha also traveled from San Francisco to Alaska and back with precious seafood cargos. The Balclutha with its towering sails and masts can be seen from many points along San Francisco bay and Fisherman’s Wharf.
The C.A. Thayer was built up the coast from San Francisco in Humboldt Bay in 1895. The primary missions this boat was used for was to carry lumbar from various mills in the state of Washington down to San Francisco. The boat was retired from lumber trade in 1912 and converted to a salmon fishing boat where every September it would return to San Francisco with giant loads of salmon. In the 1930s the boat was converted again to a cod fishing boat where it saw many of its mission in the waters of the Pacific Northwest.
The Eureka is another boat that has a prominent presentation on San Francisco’s Hyde Street Pier. This side wheel paddle steamboat was built in 1890 and was used to ferry passengers between San Francisco and Tiburon. Later on as automobiles came into prominence (but before the Golden Gate Bridge was built) motorists looking cross the bay to San Francisco were able to load their vehicles on the lower deck of the Eureka making it a full multi purpose ferry. Once the Golden Gate Bridge between Marin and San Francisco was completed in 1937, ferry service was pretty much doomed.