Unique San Francisco Bay Area Attractions

Unique San Francisco Bay Area Attractions

fort point california

Fort Point

Fort Point

If you’re making a list of things to do in San Francisco California area you’ll make a good choice by adding a stop at Fort Point to your itinerary. Fort Point is one of the most unique historical sites the the United States. The Fort has been called “the pride of the Pacific,” “the Gibraltar of the West Coast,” and “one of the most perfect models of masonry in America.”

Where this fort is located could not be more unique. The site of Fort Point is directly under the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge and in the Golden Gate National Parks area. While visiting Fort Point just look up and you’ll see the bottom of the bridge’s south end. Probably one of the most unique views you’ll ever have.

To drive to Fort Point from the city or from points south, take Highway 101 north and exit right at the Golden Gate Bridge toll plaza before getting on bridge. Turn right at end of exit ramp and then left onto Lincoln Boulevard. Take the first left onto Long Avenue and follow onto Marine Drive. Fort Point is at its end.

ford plant richmond ca

Ford plant display section, Richmond CA

Historic Richmond California Ford Plant

San Francisco things to do also include a visit to the old Ford Motor Company Richmond California plant. This is quite a significant historical venue. Richmond is located northeast and across the bay from San Francisco.

The area where the factory building still stands is at Point Richmond right on San Francisco Bay. This assembly plant, designed by Detroit architect Albert Kahn, produced some 49,000 jeeps and 91,000 additional military vehicles to aid America’s war effort during World War Two. The factory measured 500,000 square feet.

When the plant was built in 1930, the plan was to produce about 400 vehicles in an eight hour work shift. Total employment at the assembly plant was planned for 2,600. During the war years the plant’s activity was constant, twenty four hours a day and seven days a week. Since war time work shifts were scheduled one after the other the Ford plant and the Kaiser Shipyard meant that area roads had heavy traffic no matter what time of day.

When the war ended Richmond’s economy took a big hit. First the Kaiser Shipyard closed and then eventually the Ford Motor plant. Ford kept operating the Richmond facility after the war to help satisfy the pent up demand for civilian vehicles. Even so, the last Ford car built at this plant was in 1953 and the Ford plant closed for good in 1956. This of course was another hit to the Richmond economy.

rosie the riveter historic park

Rosie the Riveter

When you visit the old Ford plant today you’ll see that it is located at the Rosie the Riveter WW II Home Front National Historical Park. see the exhibits at the old Ford plant and tour the museum located adjacent to the old Ford plant. The museum has an excellent presentation with numerous exhibits that show and explain how the war effort was handled on the home front by the people who built the vehicles and ships.

Directions to the Rosie the Riveter Visitor Education Center from the San Francisco or Oakland area is as follows. Take I-80 East, then take the I-580 West split after the Gilman St. off ramp. EXIT Harbour Way South, then turn Right onto Cutting Blvd, now make a right at the next stop light onto Harbour Way South and continue for 0.8 miles. Make a left into the gated parking lot passing the guard shack. Follow signs from there ending at Suite #3000. The entrance is on the south side of the building by the water.

mission dolores san francisco

Mission Dolores in San Francisco

Mission Dolores

The settling of California by the Spanish had everything to do with their mission system. From San Diego in the south to Sonoma in the north, the Spanish missions were essential in settling what was then called Alta California.

The building of Mission Dolores in San Francisco came shortly after the Juan Bautista de Anza Expedition of 1776 came to the Bay Area from Mexico with the direct intention of bringing settlers to the area.

De Anza’s expedition essentially first settled what is now the city of San Francisco. When de Anza arrived, his first two tasks were to find a suitable place for both a mission and for a presidio.

There are many interesting facts to know about Mission Dolores San Francisco. The site that de Anza had chosen for the mission was on the banks of a very small rivulet that he named Arroyo de los Dolores. This small stream emptied into a small lake.

Father Francisco Palou who was with the expedition held the first mass in a thatched hut. Later, Father Palou moved the mission to a better site a few blocks away to where it stands today.

The Dolores Mission, where it resides today, was formally dedicated in 1791 and hasn’t changed much since. The quadrangle of the mission was finally completed in 1798, twenty years after the missions founding. The small lake where the stream led was eventually  covered up. Interestingly enough, the lake that was filled in and covered was eventually used for settlement with homes being built upon the land fill. This small section received considerable damage during the 1906 Earthquake.

See the Trips Into History articles on the links below…

Tour the WW II Submarine USS Pampanito

The Last Days of the California Stagecoach

Visit the Cable Car Museum

san francisco maritime park

A Tall ship at the San Francisco Maritime Historical Park

San Francisco National Maritime Historical Park

Today, we’re fortunate to have a great place to visit at San Francisco’s Fishermans Wharf. It’s a place to see both steamboats and old sailing vessels from an earlier era.

The San Francisco National Maritime Historical Park is a very unique site and would be a good addition to your San Francisco vacation or weekend trip.

This maritime park is located in what is perhaps one of the most picturesque part of the United States. The park consists of a fleet of historic vessels, a visitor center, a very interesting maritime museum as well as a library/research facility. The park is located nearby where Hyde Street ends at Fishermans Wharf. The cable car and electric streetcars make it very convenient to get to.

One such early vessel permanently docked at the park is the sidewheeler “Eureka“.  Like many old steamboats the Eureka has a rich history. The Eureka was built in Tiburon in Marin County in 1890. The vessel was first named the “Ukiah” to showcase the San Francisco and North Pacific Railway’s recent extension into the City of Ukiah on California’s north Pacific coast.

The first route for the Eureka was between San Francisco and Tiburon. An interesting construction fact regarding the Eureka was that it was built with a double-end design. This means that cars and people could embark or disembark from either end of the vessel.

Take a glance at the Eureka and you’ll notice that the front and back of the steamboat are identical. This includes pilot house. This new design may have been one of the most revolutionary of the time and certainly made the vessel more versatile.

This vessel which was then name the Ukiah carried troops and rail cars filled with munitions in aiding the World War One effort. Her war service however came with a big price. Transporting the extremely heavy rail cars stressed her hull and she had to be extensively repaired at government expense. During this era the Ukiah was the largest double ended designed vessel in the world. She could carry 2,300 passengers and about 120 cars.

Plenty of very unique and interesting things to do in the San Francisco Bay Area and we wanted to highlight a few of these in this article. We hope you enjoyed the article and had a chance to see the linked articles above which highlight even more good trip stops.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 Trips Into History)



Musee Mecanique / San Francisco


The Old Game Arcades

San Francisco tourist sites are aplenty and there’s never a shortage of unique things to see. One of these is located right at the San Francisco pier 45, Fishermans Wharf.

Musee Mecanique in San Francisco

It’s the world famous Musee Mecanique and it’s an enjoyable and fun trip to San Francisco’s past. It is one of the finest collections of old arcade games and devices that take you back to the 1920’s and before. The museum features hundreds of quarter operated games and exhibits from the turn of the century. Penny arcades were very common at venues like county fairs but by but by the 1950’s many of these arcades were replaced by modern machines. Back in the time of the penny arcade the video games played today of course were not in existence.

Many of the early games included pinball and fortune telling devices. Others were elaborate models of frontier towns, Ferris Wheels, a pinball version of an old baseball game and many other quite interesting novelties. Another popular machine found in old penny arcades were the peep show devices. where d the viewer could see views of various objects and later to actually see moving pictures. In the 19th century and very early 20th century this type of machine was one of the most popular.

Old time arcade game

You will experience the shooting galleries of the pre-video era. There are other great games of skill dating back to the 1920’s.

When you have a chance to view or play these antique games at Musee Mecanique you will probably marvel at the engineering that made them operate. In a way the technology involved with these devices is quite simple compared to the electronics of today, but this is what makes the machines so charming in the first place.The name penny arcade was derived from the fact that the penny was the common coin used to play them.

The Old Time Arcade Equipment

One of the most popular of the Musee Mecanique old machines is Laffing Sal. She and others like her were built in Pennsylvania during the 1920’s and shipped to amusement parks around the country. To give you an idea of the cost of these machines, when built Laffing Sal would have cost around $360. In 1940 the machine would have cost around $5,700. Laffing Sal was seen in the 1950 movie “Woman On The Run” and in the 1953 movie “Man In The Dark“.

Laffing Sal from the early arcade era

Other fully working exhibits at Musee Mecanique include a fortune teller, sex appeal meter, Regina Sublima original music box, Wurlitzer Orchestrion and an ancient Chinese royal courtyard.

These exhibits are still putting out music nearly 100 years later. While you’re there don’t miss the movie machines featuring footage from the aftermath of the Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire. Another one of a kind machine is the one to test your strength. It’s a mechanical hand whereby you set it to a certain level and essentially arm wrestle with it. Unfortunately I lost each time I tried.

What other arcade can you have a Wild West scene play out before your eyes for only a quarter. After this, spend a quarter to listen to the unique player piano with it’s own drums and mandolin. You may also enjoy the handmade carnival scene with actual moving parts. This museum is probably the best old arcade exhibit under one roof and is the product of a lifetime of collecting. Where else can you have this much fun playing with arcade machines that are almost a hundred years old and only spend a quarter on each. This opportunity at Musee Mecanique beats the modern day arcades where many games will cost you one dollar each time you play. Where else in such a scenic locale as San Francisco Pier 45 at Fishermans Wharf can you play such unique antique games and enjoy hours there for only ten to twenty dollars total.


Steam Flyer motorcycle on display at Musee Mecanique

Links to two additional nearby attractions in San Francisco that we’ve highlighted on our Western Trips site are the Cable Car Museum and the U.S.S. Pampanito World War Two submarine. You will also enjoy our photo article on the historic Santa Cruz California Boardwalk.

The History of Musee Mecanique

There’s a lot of history with Musee Mecanique and the arcade industry in San Francisco. This venue alone features a world class collection of over 200 antique arcade games all under one roof. Game historians who frown on today’s digital presence look at the total display of these old machines as the evolution of arcade entertainment.

Most of the machines at Musee Mecanique were scavenged from the old “Playland at the Beach“, a venue that was located for years near San Francisco’s Cliff House on the Pacific Ocean. When the Cliff House was being remodeled the collection needed to find a new home. Indeed, the San Francisco public wanted these machines kept on display.and this led the museum to its current location in the Fisherman’s Wharf area at Pier 45.

The Musee Mecanique is truly one of San Francisco’s treasures.The collection was owned by Edward Zelinsky who actually started his collection at eleven years of age. The collection just grew and grew with acquisitions being made throughout Zelinsky’s lifetime. He collected the old games prior to World War Two and continued when he arrived back home after the war. One of the most unique displays at the museum is the “Steam Flyer” which is not a game but a fully and beautifully restored red steam motorcycle built in the 1920’s by a man in Sacramento California.

Liberty Ship Jeremiah O'Brien exhibit outside of Musee Mecanique

There was a lot of experimenting with steam motorcycles during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s and this exhibit is one you don’t want to miss. This particular motorcycle, which could be the only one of its kind in the world, and it’s still in working condition, is estimated to be worth over $250,000.

All of the machines on display were collected over a long period of time by Edward Zelinsky who recognized their historic value at the time. To amass such a collection today would take an astronomical amount of money.

A Lifetime Collection

Dan Zelinsky, the son of the original owner, now operates the museum. As you can imagine, these antique machines require constant maintenance.and several have had major restorations. Old San Franciscan’s may miss the fun atmosphere of the old Playland on the Beach location, but the larger Pier 45 location is ideal for introducing the tourist crowds to this unique display.

Inside San Francisco Cable Car Museum

When your travels include a San Francisco vacation I would highly recommend a stop at Musee Mecanique. It’s right at Fishermans Wharf, near many other popular attractions, and it’s free to enter. Musee Mecanique is open 365 days a year, from 10 am to 7 pm weekdays and 10 am to 8 pm weekends and holidays From 1930 colorful marionettes to penny stretcher machines to fortune tellers, Musee Mecanique is a vintage arcade museum second to none.

Also, adjacent to Musee Mecanique on Pier 45 are two restored World War II vessels. One is, the submarine USS Pampanito and the Liberty Ship Jeremiah O’Brien. Both vessels are open for tours. I have toured both vessels and Musee Mecanique and I would recommend all of them.

(Photos are from author’s private collection)

San Francisco Telegraph Hill


Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill

Historic Telegraph Hill is one of the Seven Hills of San Francisco. It’s as well known as the San Francisco cable cars and Fishermans Wharf and it’s the site of the distinctive and quite unique Coit Tower. Thousands of people visit Coit Tower annually and if your upcoming plans include a visit to San Francisco, this is one stop you do want to add to your trip or vacation planner.

A Semaphore for Telegraph Hill

Today’s Telegraph Hill was known by several different names over the centuries. The Spaniards who were the first to occupy present day California had named the hill “Loma Alta” which meant “high hill”. After that, the earlier settlers on San Francisco referred to the hill as “Goat Hill“. Eventually, the name Telegraph Hill took hold and for a reason. During September 1849, just a year before California’s statehood and after the U.S. took control from Mexico, a semaphore was built on the hill as a means to alert citizens of the ships entering San Francisco Bay. The semaphore consisted of a pole that had two arms. Depending on the configuration of the pole’s arms, the operator could send a message as to what type of vessel was entering the city. Was the vessel a steamboat?, a side wheeler?, a sailboat?, a frigate?, a sloop?, etc.

View of Oakland Bay Bridge and Treasure Island from Coit Tower observation deck

Why This Was Important

One might ask why this signaling form the semaphore on Telegraph Hill was so important. The fact of the matter was that it proved itself quite useful in the realm of finance and trade.

The knowledge of the character of the cargo entering the bay and thus entering the city could and did reflect on prices set. If a trader was unaware of what type of cargo would be unloaded, the prices he or she paid might be too much. This is an example of the law of supply and demand up close. If whatever cargo an arriving vessel carried would add a surplus to current inventories, then prices were apt to drop and drop quickly. Those who made a living through speculation would become daily observers of the Telegraph Hill semaphore.

The Electric Telegraph

Most people know the effect that the transcontinental telegraph had on the short lived yet still famous Pony Express system. As soon as the telegraph lines were completed, the Pony Express vanished within just a few months. After the electronic telegraph was completed in 1862, the semaphore on Telegraph Hill was eventually taken down. Even though the semaphore was gone, Telegraph Hill retained it’s famous name and is today one of the top attractions for those visiting San Francisco.

Lillian Hitchcock Coit

The Building of Coit Tower

Those visiting San Francisco’s Telegraph Hill today will be able to explore Coit Tower. The twenty-one story high tower was constructed in 1933 during the time of the Great Depression.

Coit Tower is named after Lillian Hitchcock Coit, who donated much of her fortune to the City of San Francisco. Lillie Hitchcock Coit came to San Francisco with her parents in 1851. Her father was a surgeon and a graduate of West Point.

Coit had a colorful history. Aside from being seen smoking cigars and wearing trousers, the wealthy socialite also had an affinity for gambling and in this pursuit often dressed as a male. Lillian Coit was also very enamored with the city’s firefighters. In fact, Lillian Hitchcock Coit was listed as a volunteer firefighter. She became such a fixture at fires around San Francisco that she was actually named the official mascot for Knickerbocker Engine Company No. 5. She was awarded a gold badge from the volunteer firefighters honoring her membership. It has been said that Lillian Coit was always fascinated with the fireman’s red shirt and helmet.

Mural inside of Coit Tower

Lillian Hitchcock Coit passed away in 1929. The funds used for the building of Coit Tower represented about one-third of her entire fortune. Coit also funded the construction of the “three firefighters statue” in San Francisco’s Washington Square Park.

You’ll also enjoy our Trips Into History photo article on the Cable Cars of San Francisco. On our Western Trips site see our visit to San Francisco’s Nob Hill.

Visiting Telegraph Hill

Telegraph Hill today is mostly a residential area. You can actually drive up Telegraph Hill to Coit Tower where there is parking available. As a walking tour, there are a several ways to reach the top and Coit Tower. You can walk up from Lombard or Greenwich Street. The Filbert Street steps, just to the south, lead through much more of the lush landscaping.


(Photos from author’s collection)

Cable Cars of San Francisco / Cable Tracks

san francisco cable car power house

Cable car Power House


Out of all the various means of public transportation, the cable car, most notably the San Francisco cable car, is the only vehicle that doesn’t have a readily apparent exterior means of power. Cable cars of San Francisco have no overhead wires, no exhaust fumes, no electric third rail. The cable car glides along it’s tracks effortlessly whether the terrain is flat or highly steep.

One of the remarkable things about cable car technology is that it is relatively simple. By the same token, a cable car system such as the cable cars of San Francisco was very expensive to build. Aside from laying cable tracks, the task of building a cable car system,  requires a massive Power Plant which contains large engines and wheel mechanisms. Quite different and more expensive than hanging electric streetcar wires.

Andrew S. Hallidie and the Early Cable Cars

It just so happened that the father of cable cars of San Francisco’s was a man named Andrew S. Hallidie. Hallidie was quite knowledgeable about wire. His father held several patents in Great Britain involving wire cable or sometimes referred to as wire rope. Andrew Hallidie had wire cable patents himself in the U.S. Hallidie was the first person to make wire rope in California having used wire rope cable to pull ore cars during the California Gold Rush.

cable car control mechanism

Cable car control mechanism

During the early days of the San Francisco Cable Cars there were cable tracks all over the city. Each one was run by a separate railway company. Over time there were mergers and acquisitions. After the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire things changed immensely. The electric streetcar was on the scene and the devastating earthquake gave many companies a reason to abandon certain routes. The earthquake signaled the time of everlasting change to San Francisco’s cable car lines.


You’ll find the following two articles on our Western Trips site of interest. A Visit to the San Francisco Cable Car Museum and The Electric Railroads.

The Power House

A good argument could be made that the most important part of the street cable car system is it’s Power House.  It is from the power house that the wire cable itself enters and leaves. It’s the Power House that feeds the entire cable system. In the beginning, every separate cable car line had it’s own dedicated Power House and their own cable tracks. Some systems actually had more than one Power House. During the heyday of the cable cars, San Francisco had no less than nine different Power Houses and Car Barns.

cable car grip

Cable car "Grip" mechanism

Inside the Power House are very large winding wheels and engines. The wheels are referred to as “sheaves“. The wheels turn with the power of the engines and feed the cable out of the building and under the street surface. When this technology was first developed, the engines were powered by steam and as a result burned quite a lot of coal every day to heat the steam boilers.

The wire cable is wound around the sheaves or wheels in a figure eight. In addition to this,  additional sheaves that are known as a “tension carriage” is employed so that the lines stay taut at all times. The tension carriage can adjust tension as required. This will vary by the number of cars on the line as well as the passenger load.

The Street

cable tracks

slot between cable car tracks

Chances are, when you’ve taken a ride on a San Francisco cable car, you’ve noticed the slot between the two rails that the car travels on. It is in this slot, slightly under the street surface, that the cable wire runs. You most likely will hear it’s whirring sound. It is the one and only power source for a cable car. You might find it interesting to note just how much cable car wire is used today in San Francisco. According to the San Francisco Cable Car Museum, the grand total of cable used in all three of today’s cable car lines is 56,750 feet. The cable itself is a very strong bundle of metal wires. Today’s cable car cables run at a constant 9.5 MPH.

The Cable Car

While the Power House provides a constantly moving cable wire, it’s the cable car operator who decides how and when to use the cable. The cable car operator uses what is called a “grip” to engage the moving cable. It’s an appropriate name in as much as what the “grip” does is grip the cable. When the operator pulls back on the “jaw“, the mechanism grabs the moving cable. When the grip is completely engaged on the cable, the cable car will move at 9.5 MPH, the constant speed of the moving cable. The cable car operator can also reduce speed by letting up a bit on the grip. When the grip is unengaged from the cable, the car will stop.

san francisco cable car

San Francisco cable car

In addition to the grip mechanism, a cable car has brakes. Today, there are three types of brakes on a San Francisco cable car. One is a foot pedal brake. The foot brake operates the brake shoes located on both the car’s front and back wheels. Another is a track brake that essentially sticks wood into the cable slot below. Yet another is the emergency brake which is referred to as a “guillotine brake“. This emergency braking mechanism consists of a piece of steel about one and one-half feet long that hangs under the cable car. If it is deployed, the piece of steel wedges tightly into the cable slot on the street. It wedges so tightly that sometimes a torch is needed to get it out.

The very fact that the grip can fully engage the cable and hold on tightly is why cable cars can go up very steep inclines and do it in wet weather. As you can appreciate, the advent of the San Francisco cable car was a welcomed event.

san francisco cable car museum

Cable Car Museum in San Francisco

The early cable car could go up and down a steep hill where horse carts would sometimes get out of control and cause accidents sometimes leading to the death of the animals. It was this very problem that led Andrew Hallidie to devise the cable car concept.

San Francisco was by no means the only city employing cable cars. Cable cars at one time operated in Sydney and Melbourne Australia, Bogota Colombia, Lisbon Portugal, London England and several more cities.

If you travel to San Francisco California, you do want to add the faThe Cable Car fascinating Cable Car Museum to your trip itinerary. The Cable Car Museum is located at the corner of Mason and Washington just a few blocks north of Nob Hill. The museum is free to visit and showcases some excellent historic exhibits of both the cable cars and old time San Francisco.

Two excellent books on San Francisco’s cable cars are The Cable Car Book by author Charles A. Smallwood and San Francisco’s California Street Cable Cars by authors Walter Rice, Emiliano Echeverria and Michael Dolgushkin.

(Photos from author’s private collection)

Jeremiah O’Brien Liberty Ship

World War Two Liberty Ships

When you step on to the deck of the S.S. Jeremiah O’Brien you are stepping into history. The Jeremiah O’Brien will take you back to the era of World War Two. These were the times of Rosie The Riveter, bell-bottomed trousers, rationing and military mobilization in the scale the world had never seen before. It was a time when military ships were built along the west coast in a matter of a month.

ss Jeremiah O brien

SS Jeremiah O'Brien

The 441 foot long S.S. Jeremiah O’Brien is one of only two surviving Liberty Ships of the 2,700 which were built during World War Two. This historic ship now is permanently berthed at San Francisco’s Fishermans Wharf and is open to the public. Visitors can tour the entire interior of the vessel including the engine room area. If you have the opportunity to visit San Francisco I would highly recommend you add it to your San Francisco vacation itinerary. It’s a fun side trip for the entire family. This ship now constitutes a national treasure and we’re fortunate it’s been saved. It serves as a living memorial to all who built, supplied and served on these Liberty Ships. Many were constructed at the old Kaiser Shipyard just across the bay in Richmond California.

The successor to the Liberty Ships were the Victory Ships. Many of those were also produced at the Kaiser Richmond Shipyards. Another good stop on your San Francisco Bay vacation is the Rosie the Riveter Memorial Park in Richmond where the SS Red Oak Victory Ship is open for self guided tours. The Red Oak ship actually stayed in service through the Vietnam War and is now a permanent exhibit at the Rosie the Riveter Park. Richmond is located on San Francisco Bay northeast of San Francisco and north of Berkeley.

You will also want to see our articles and photos on our Western Trips website regarding the Rosie the Riveter Park and the Victory Ship SS Red Oak.

ss red oak victory ship

SS Red Oak Victory Ship

There are some truly amazing facts about the O’Brien. The ship itself was built in only 56 days in South Portland Maine. She was launched on June 19, 1943 and made seven voyages during World War Two. From July 1943 to October 1944 the O’Brien made four sailings between the U.S. and England. In addition to that, the S.S. Jeremiah O’Brien was a veteran of both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters of war.The O’Brien also took part in our D-Day operations which we all know was critical to winning the war.

liberty ship

O'Brien Liberty Ship, San Francisco

The Liberty Ships were essential to our war effort. German U-Boats were sinking merchant vessels in the Atlantic. England was under siege and the Japanese were making large advances in the Pacific theater. There was a huge need to transport both troops and supplies to the war zones including Great Britain which was chronically short of supplies because of the German U-Boat stranglehold. The Liberty Ships seemed to be the answer for transporting crucial supplies both of a military nature and a humanitarian nature.

The crew of a Liberty Ship such as the Jeremiah O’Brien was about 43 civilians. During the war years there was also a military guard contingent assigned to the ships. If military supplies were carried, the military assigned a cargo officer to accompany the crew.

When the war ended,the Jeremiah O’Brien joined the mothball fleet of spare vessels grouped on the Sacramento River just east of San Francisco Bay. Some of these spare ships were sold off to foreign nations. Others were refitted into commercial use and still others just stayed moored in the river.

rosie the riveter poster

Rosie the Riveter World War Two poster

During the 1960’s various groups decided to try and save one Liberty Ship for posterity and historical purposes so that future generations would be able to learn about these ships. In 1978 the National Liberty Ship Memorial non-profit association was started . Their purpose was to raise funds to restore and maintain an unaltered Liberty Ship. The group decided to choose the S.S. Jeremiah O’Brien for their project. The O’Brien was in generally excellent condition and after much volunteer work and a good deal of money the O’Brien returned to service in 1979.

The O’Brien is now a living museum moored at Fishermans Wharf in San Francisco California and is open for self-guided tours. I have been on the ship several times and I would highly recommend it for any family looking for a low cost way to enjoy fun and education at the same time. The Jeremiah O’Brien also schedules several San Francisco Bay area day cruises during the year which is always a fun excursion and the proceeds help the association cover the costs of maintenance. The O’Brien is truly a gift for those wishing to explore the World War Two era.

You can visit the S.S. Jeremiah O’Brien at Pier 45 at San Francisco’s Fishermans Wharf. Hours are daily 9A-4P. Closed January 1st and Thanksgiving Day. For more information on the ship and for a schedule of events and sailings please see www.ssjeremiahobrien.org.

(Photos are from author’s private collection)