Lake County History, Chapter 109: Boats of Clear Lake, Conclusion


The Hallie served as a Tender for the USS Kearsarge of Civil War fame. Captain Fraser, the same man that for eighteen years had assisted Captain Floyd in the building of Lick Observatory, bought the Hallie. He put it into commission, and it became the first steamer on Clear Lake.

How it got to Clear Lake is a story in itself. On the way from San Francisco, the wagon carrying the Kearsarge’s tender turned over near Mt. St. Helena’s summit. It ended upside down in the bottom of a canyon.

While they wrestled with the problem of hoisting the boat, which weighed several tons, out of the canyon and back on the wagon, all other wagon and horse traffic on the top of Mt. St. Helena’s only road across the summit had to wait for more than a day and a night.

The author has no idea how they managed to raise that boat as big as a house. Somehow, the men found a way to rescue the wayward Hallie. She was reloaded without serious damage and brought to her new home on Clear lake. Once the boat was safely in the water, Captain Floyd christened the Hallie after his daughter.

Years later, the Hallie sunk off Sulfur Bank during a storm. Her life was not yet over. The water-logged Hallie was raised, rebuilt, and entered a new profession as a dredge tender for the Yolo Water and Power Company.

The Whisper

The Whisper was the first all-metal ship on Clear Lake. The seventy-foot yacht was constructed by the San Francisco Iron Works and brought in sections by wagons to Lake County, a gift from James Lick of Lick Observatory fame.

Captain Floyd never saw his gift. Floyd died of a heart attack in 1890, but his daughter, Miss ‘Harry’ Floyd, sailed The Whisper often until, in the middle thirties, when the ship died of old age. The Whisper was beached near Glenhaven, cut up, and used as a breakwater.

      The Golden Dragon

On the day of her launching, the watching crowd was uncertain whether the solid Teakwood Golden Dragon would float… or would it even survive her launching. As the Golden Dragon slid into the waters of Clear lake, the audible gasp of relieved tension that came from the assembled citizens was a testament to her success. During the next hour, as the Golden Dragon showed off and skimmed upon Clear Lake’s water, she behaved as though she had swum there all her life.

The Golden Dragon became a celebrity. She was on TV, carried visiting dignitaries around the Lake, and would have gone to San Francisco to lead a parade… except her owners remembered the Hallie’s unfortunate plunge into a canyon on its trek across Mt. St. Helena and wisely decided otherwise.

At the prow, her Dragon’s head was as tall as a tall man. It had been fashioned to blow smoke from her nostrils and glow red from her mouth. Not a large steamship, she had the distinction of having eyes. Chuck Goeble, the painter, added eyes so the Golden Dragon would never get lost on Clear lake. It worked. She never did.

Captain John Fraser built many boats on Clear Lake. He worked for one of the longest surviving and famous Boat Works in the County, Collier Brother’s, until Fraser and his brother started their own Boat Works.

The Frasers built good boats. Among them there were the Henrietta, the Heister, and others. Lyon Fraser, John’s son, served as Under Sheriff to Sheriff George Kemp, until Kemp’s murder.

The Collier Brothers built some of the finest and fastest boats on Clear Lake; The Meteor, Hebe, Pixie, Winthrop, Ka-bel, Bottie, Falcon, Restless, Widgeon, and Eagle, among others. Not to be left out, Lake County had a dozen good boat builders, who built boats; Messers Alter, Carr, Robinson, Luke, Dennison, Morrison, Behr, Atherton, Lea, Wright, Fitts, Hieth, and May. In its hey-day Clear Lake and Lake County was a mecca for boat builders, Tourists, and, later, US flying boats and boat races. It may, someday, reclaim its high place again.

Next episode; The White Cap Murders


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

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

Gene Paleno

Gene runs his life at a full sprint. In his ninety-three years he's dug ditches, painted signs, played semi-pro football, worked as a taxicab driver, an insurance agent, and a school teacher. He's been a technical artist, a marketing director, and a business owner. He served in World War II, raised four children, and was married to the love of his life for fifty years. He's an accomplished oil painter and skilled in ceramics. He's written fifteen books, including the definitive Lake County History, and doesn't show any signs of slowing down.

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