Seacliff State Beach
March 31, 2011
Seacliff is a California State Beach located off Highway 1 in the town of Aptos about 5 mi south of Santa Cruz, on State Park Drive. The beach is most known for the concrete ship SS Palo Alto lying in the water. For me, it is known as a good place to find water birds.
Why is there a ship at the end of the pier?
Was it built there — or did it sink there?
In 1910 a Norwegian civil engineer named Fougner thought of using concrete to build ships. It wasn’t until 1917, when wartime steel shortages required the use of cement for construction that Fougner’s idea was used. Three concrete ships were built. Two, the Peralta and the Palo Alto, were built at the U.S. Naval Shipyard in Oakland, California while the third, the Faith, was built in a shipyard in Redwood City, California. The Peralta and the Palo Alto were built for wartime use as tankers, however World War One ended before ship construction was finished — so they were never used.
The Palo Alto remained docked in Oakland until 1929, when the Cal-Nevada Company bought the ship with the idea of making her into an amusement and fishing ship. Her maiden voyage was made under tow to Seacliff State Beach. Once positioned at the beach, the sea cocks were opened and the Palo Alto settled to the ocean bottom. By the summer of 1930 a pier had been built leading to the ship, the ship was remodeled. A dance floor on the main deck was added, also a cafe in the superstructure was built, as was a fifty-four foot heated swimming pool, and a series of carnival type concessions were placed on the afterdeck. The Cal-Nevada Company went broke after two seasons — then the Palo Alto was stripped, leaving the ship and the pier to be used only for fishing.
SS Palo Alto
A favorite hangout for Cormorant
If you click on a photo it will zoom in just a little to give you a better view. This is true for all almost all photos on AKA Bird Nerd unless they are already at 480 by 640. The landscape photos are at 450 x 338, but if you click on one you can get a 640 x 480 view. Shawn’s layouts are different, but we have to downsize a photo small enough to fit into the blog column. You can always click on the photo to see if a larger view is available.
Now I need to get serious for a moment. While walking on the beach we came upon a crime scene. I think we were the first to arrive, so we immediately called 911. A young child had either been murdered or washed up on the beach. I took a photo, but I want to warn you now, don’t look if you can’t handle a photo of a dead child. You may never recover. I’m still having nightmares months after this harrowing experience. May she rest is peace. Click on the tiny photo to enlarge.