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Lake County History, Chapter 108: Boats of Clear Lake, Part 1

Gentlemen lost their hearts as they watched the ladies of the 1880’s standing on the dock waiting for the ship, City of Lakeport, to reach the landing. Having read the last installment of Lake County History, you know how the ladies achieved that wonder.

“Listen, Listen,” the people cried as the steamship, ‘City of Lakeport’ drew close to Bartlett Landing.

 They waited at Bartlett Landing at ten o’clock each Sunday for years, before the ‘City of Lakeport’ became a rusted salvage and Captain Brundidge whistle blew her mournful cry no more.

A jet of steam shot toward the heavens, and there came a long, drawn-out WHOOOOO, WHOOOOO, as the steamboat sounded its call over the still waters of Clear Lake. The sound conjured, for its listeners and the waiting passengers, a feeling of sudden loneliness. By some silent direction, as if by echo, from the hills above Clear Lake came the answer of coyote cries howling to one another, or a Loon, until, at last, all was still again.

More than three dozen sailboats, steamboats, and gasoline-powered boats were built and moved across Clear Lake on their various journeys and duties during the 1800s.  From 1856 until nearly to the present time, some ships and their builders took part in adventures that are worth the retelling in this brief history of Lake County.

      City Of Lakeport

In 1875, twenty-five years after the Bloody Island Massacre and that unfortunate event was only a painful memory, Captain Floyd launched the City of Lakeport. It was a noble ship, long enough to take a full minute to walk its length; it was twice as wide as two tall men and a long dog laying on the deck and fast enough to move as swiftly as Lakeport’s newest horseless carriage, a Reo Automobile, that had just arrived in Lakeport.

The Ship was the best in sheer luxury. Her frame and stern were Clear Lake Oak. She boasted two cabins plus a pilothouse and an afterdeck. The City of Lakeport was modeled after the City of Peking, the finest steamer of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company of San Francisco. Floyd’s great steamer was fast. She could travel across Clear Lake at an eye-searing speed of nineteen miles an hour.

For years the ship’s customers lived the high life between Lakeport and Bartlett Springs… until 1906 when she sank as she sat at her moorings off Lakeport. Her ending was ignominious; She was raised, beached, and broken apart for whatever purpose old boats like her served best.

       Noah’s Ark

Until it perished in a storm, this fifty-foot, three-story, blue beauty was a familiar sight on Clear Lake. The builder was George Simi. George and his five partners came from the Philippines in 1922. Having decided to settle in Lake County, Simi bought the Upper Lake Bean Cannery on a large chunk of land near what is known as Meteor Ranch.

He bought more land along Highway 20. Simi and his partners, all wealthy men from export and shipping, built a private club in the Hammand Mansion that was called the ‘Manilla Club.’

In 1913, George Simi commissioned that a boat be constructed to take the partners and guests back and forth across Clear Lake. He named the steam craft Noah’s Ark. It was painted the same color as Simi and his partner’s fleet of ships, a brilliant blue. Noah’s Ark was a floating palace and served as a clubhouse all the way until the second world war.

Noah’s Ark came to a sad ending. In the storm over Clear Lake in 1937, Noah’s Ark was beached and sunk.

Next episode; A Sad Ending for Beautiful Boats

© 2017 PAL PUBLISHING/USED BY PERMISSION

To enjoy and learn more about Author Gene Paleno’s books

visit Gene’s website; http://genepaleno.com/

Curated by The Bloom Staff

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