Bowsprit of Forester in front of Maritime Museum.

Have you ever wondered about that massive timber that lies in front of the Maritime Museum? The one people will sit on to gaze across San Diego Bay or at several of the museum’s nearby ships?

That’s the bowsprit of the old four-masted schooner Forester, built in 1900 to transport lumber from the Pacific Northwest to ports along the West Coast and destinations all around the Pacific Ocean, including China, India, Australia, South Sea islands and Peru.

The old ship, when her life of carrying logs of spruce and fir came to an end, was used as a tidal break near the northeastern end of San Francisco Bay. Eventually it was towed to a mudflat west of Antioch (the city stated in the plaque I photographed) and beached. There it became home of its long-time captain.

In 1975 fire swept through the abandoned ship and it burned to the waterline. The remains of Forester can still be seen along the shoreline of Martinez, California.

If you want to learn more about the history of the Forester, and see several interesting old photographs of the ship, there’s a great web page that you can check out by clicking here.

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Photos aboard historic steam ferryboat Berkeley.

Golden light on the steam ferryboat Berkeley, hub of the Maritime Museum of San Diego. I believe I took this photo a year or two ago.
Golden light on the steam ferryboat Berkeley, hub of the Maritime Museum of San Diego. I believe I took this photo a year or two ago.

Over the years, I’ve taken many photos around and aboard the historic steam ferryboat Berkeley. The beautiful old ship is the hub of the Maritime Museum of San Diego. I thought you might enjoy seeing some of these photographs. Read the captions to learn a little about the Berkeley’s fascinating history.

Berkeley, built in 1898, was originally operated by the Southern Pacific Railroad on San Francisco Bay. It was used to ferry up to 1700 passengers per trip between the transcontinental train terminus at the Oakland Pier and the San Francisco Ferry Building across the bay. The Berkeley was also used after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake to rescue thousand of refugees, which were brought out of the fire-devastated city safely over to Oakland.

Berkeley was acquired by the Maritime Museum of San Diego in 1973, and today she houses a large number of fascinating historical exhibits on her lower deck. She is both a National Historic Landmark and California State Historical Landmark, and a cool sight that many like to visit on San Diego’s Embarcadero.

Personally, I love to head up the stairs to the McKinney Deck, where passengers used to cross the water in elegance. I have often seen ferry visitors and members of the Maritime Museum of San Diego sitting on the beautiful wooden benches simply reading or enjoying a relaxing moment. It’s like being transported back into another era. The atmosphere is quite amazing, as you will see…

Plaque in front of the ferryboat Berkeley, which was the first successful West Coast-built ferry to be driven by a screw propeller as opposed to side wheels.
Plaque in front of the ferryboat Berkeley, which was the first successful West Coast-built ferry to be driven by a screw propeller as opposed to side wheels.

Downtown San Diego skyscrapers and masts of HMS Surprise and Star of India can be seen in this photo of the upper passenger deck and one of two pilot houses.
Downtown San Diego skyscrapers and masts of museum ships HMS Surprise and Star of India can be seen in this photo of the Berkeley’s upper passenger deck and one of two pilot houses.

Southern Pacific Lines logo on a pilot house.
Southern Pacific Lines logo on one pilot house.

Photo over the roof of the ferryboat, with a black funnel projecting into the blue San Diego sky.
Photo over the roof of the ferryboat, with a black funnel projecting into the blue San Diego sky.

I'm getting ready to look inside the pilot house on the west end of the Berkeley. I see the County Administration Building.
I’m getting ready to look inside the pilot house on the east end of the Berkeley. I see the County Administration Building.

The wooden wheel, binoculars and other instruments used to pilot the ferry.
The wooden wheel, binoculars and other instruments used to pilot the ferry.

Many forms of communication were used during ferry operation. The Berkeley's pilot houses contained a radio receiver, the ship's whistle, and two voice tubes.
Many forms of communication were used during ferry operation. The Berkeley’s pilot houses contained radio receivers, the ship’s whistle, and two voice tubes.

Standing outside, peering into the elegant Dan McKinney Deck of the Berkeley.
Standing outside, peering into the elegant Dan McKinney Deck of the Berkeley.

Visitors aboard the Berkeley look at the beautiful long wooden benches and stained glass windows of the upper passenger deck.
Visitors aboard the Berkeley look at the beautiful long wooden benches and art glass windows of the upper passenger deck.

Different stained glass windows on the ship infuse the passenger deck with colored light.
Different art glass windows on the ship fill the passenger deck with many-colored light.

More exquisite stained glass. Passengers would cross San Francisco Bay in style.
More exquisite art glass. Passengers would cross San Francisco Bay in style.

Walking through the passenger deck.
Walking through the passenger deck.

Sunlight on one comfortable, warm wood bench. Wouldn't you like to sit here?
Sunlight on one comfortable, warm wood bench. Wouldn’t you like to sit here?

A painting of the ferry Berkeley and a relic from its history.
A painting of the ferry Berkeley and a relic from its history.

More beauty aboard the old ship, which is now docked in San Diego Bay.
More beauty aboard the old ship, which is now docked in San Diego Bay.

I assume the fancy B is for Berkeley, but I'm not sure.
I assume the fancy B is for Berkeley, but I’m not sure.

Refreshments used to be served here during bay crossings. Today the Berkeley is often used for special events and drinks are still served.
Refreshments used to be purchased here during bay crossings. Today the Berkeley is often used for special events and drinks are still served.

Over the years, many thousands of passengers were served.
Over the years, countless thousands of passengers were served.

Ferryboat Berkeley,1898, has been designated a National Historic Landmark. This vessel possesses national significance in commemorating the history of the United States of America.
Ferryboat Berkeley,1898, has been designated a National Historic Landmark. This vessel possesses national significance in commemorating the history of the United States of America.

One of four old photos on the passenger deck. Berkeley was launched on San Francisco Bay on October 18, 1898.
One of four old photos on the passenger deck. Berkeley was launched on San Francisco Bay on October 18, 1898.

Berkeley was never a car ferry. The open deck below carried luggage carts for passengers transiting between the end of the railroad at Oakland and San Francisco.
Berkeley was never a car ferry. The open deck below carried luggage carts for passengers transiting between the end of the railroad at Oakland and San Francisco across the bay.

The Berkeley was heroine of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake story. She carried refugees to safety nonstop for three days and nights.
The Berkeley was heroine of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake story. She carried refugees to safety nonstop for three days and nights.

In 1973, Berkeley was towed down the coast to San Diego to begin a second life as floating museum.
In 1973, Berkeley was towed down the coast to San Diego to begin a second life as floating museum.

And what a beautiful museum she is! Many exhibits can be seen on the lower deck, where ferry passengers used to haul their luggage carts.
And what a beautiful museum she is! I haven’t included them in this particular blog post, but many cool exhibits can be seen on the lower deck, where ferry passengers used to park their luggage carts.

Gazing down some steps at a museum workshop aboard the Berkeley.
Gazing down some steps at a museum workshop aboard the Berkeley.

Gazing from the passenger deck outside toward San Diego Bay. Other museum ships, including Californian and San Salvador, are docked along a float west of the Berkeley.
Gazing from the passenger deck outside toward San Diego Bay. Other museum ships, including Californian and San Salvador, are docked along a float west of the Berkeley.

One of the ferry's old lifeboats.
One of the ferry’s old lifeboats.

Looking up at the pilot house on the ferry's bay-facing end.
Looking up at the pilot house on the steam ferry’s bay-facing end.

Some folks on the other end looking out at downtown San Diego and the Waterfront Park.
Some folks on the other end looking out at downtown San Diego and the Waterfront Park.

An old sign above one doorway says a Lunch and Grill Room are on the Lower Deck.
An old sign above one doorway says Lunch and Grill Room on Lower Deck.

That old sign was uncovered beneath accumulated paint. Working on an old vessel is a bit like an archaeological dig.
That old sign was uncovered beneath accumulated paint. Working on an old vessel is a bit like an archaeological dig.

Looking from the Embarcadero at the Berkeley, over the Maritime Museum of San Diego's deep diving submarine USS Dolphin.
Looking from the Embarcadero at the Berkeley, over the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s deep diving submarine USS Dolphin.

The handsome steam ferryboat Berkeley now greets visitors on San Diego Bay.
The handsome steam ferryboat Berkeley now greets visitors on San Diego Bay.

People walk through history aboard a beautiful old vessel.
People walk through history aboard a beautiful old vessel.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

Rivelino’s Our Silences sculptures head to San Francisco.

Bronze sculptures of Our Silences, by Mexican artist Rivelino, are loaded onto a truck for transport from San Diego to San Francisco. Each figure weighs about a ton.
Bronze sculptures of Our Silences, by Mexican artist Rivelino, are loaded onto a truck for transport from San Diego to San Francisco. Each figure weighs about a ton.

Last January I posted the blog: Our Silences and precious freedom of speech. I had walked down to Ruocco Park, just north of Seaport Village, to investigate an eye-popping new installation of public art titled Nuestros Silencios (which translated from Spanish means Our Silences).

The mysterious, monumental bronze sculptures, created by noted Mexican artist José Rivelino Moreno Valle, convey the importance of freedom of speech. The mouths of the huge anthropomorphic figures are each blocked by a metal plate; voices are censored and silenced. The emotional reaction the artwork produces is quite strong. In the past six months millions of San Diegans and visiting tourists have had the opportunity to be directly influenced by Rivelino’s thought-provoking artwork.

This morning I made another discovery! I was walking along San Diego’s waterfront when I noticed a crane lifting large objects near Tuna Harbor. I thought it was some sort of boating equipment being loaded onto a truck. As I approached, I suddenly saw the large objects were Rivelino’s sculptures!

I soon learned that Our Silences is on its way to San Francisco! (The sculptures were supposed to move to Los Angeles in March, but those plans changed.) The amazing public artwork will soon be situated on the north end of Harry Bridges Plaza, on San Francisco’s Embarcadero in front of the Ferry Building! They should arrive in time to take part in San Francisco’s Mex I Am festival, which showcases performing arts, culture, and ideas from Mexico.

Our Silences has been traveling around the world for about 4 years, making its potent statement in San Diego, Mexico City, and in numerous major cities throughout Europe.

But wait! Would you believe it? I was fortunate this morning to meet the artist himself! He was hanging out at Seward Johnson’s famous Unconditional Surrender statue just across the Fish Market’s parking lot, and I was graciously introduced and allowed to take a photograph!

Rivelino, smiling, showed me on his smartphone a new piece of public art that he’s been working on. Called Equality, it’s going to be installed in historic Trafalgar Square, at the center of London, England! Equality will consist of two huge sculpted index fingers, each pointing at the other. It seems that each massive finger is blaming the other. But people can stand in a space between the two sculptures, reach out and touch the tips of each finger, uniting both! I can’t wait to see photos when Equality is finally installed!

Very cool, indeed!

Rivelino smiles broadly as he supervises the movement of his monumental works of art!
Rivelino smiles broadly as he supervises the movement of his monumental works of art!

Our Silences will soon be exhibited at Harry Bridges Plaza, in front of San Francisco's landmark Ferry Building.
Our Silences will soon be exhibited at Harry Bridges Plaza, in front of San Francisco’s landmark Ferry Building.

Discoveries await around every corner! Join me on Facebook or Twitter.