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Martinez in Contra Costa County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
Martinez-Benicia Ferry
"Gateway to the Gold Fields"
 
Martinez-Benicia Ferry Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Andrew Ruppenstein, February 8, 2009
1. Martinez-Benicia Ferry Marker




 
Inscription. Founded by Dr. Robert Semple in 1847, the Martinez-Benicia ferry was the first established and longest operating ferry service in the S.F. Bay Area. In 1850 Oliver Coffin took over the operation and with his brothers purchased a new ferryboat, the "Carquinez", and built the Ferry Street Wharf, once located 100 feet west of this spot. The Pony Express, on one of its trips to San Francisco, first set foot in Contra Costa County on April 23, 1860, after an early morning ferry trip from Benicia. With the opening of the George A. Miller Memorial Bridge the ferry ceased operations September 14, 1962.

Dedicated September 20, 1997
Joaquin Murrieta Chapter Thirteen
E Clampus Vitus

 
Erected 1997 by Joaquin Murrieta Chapter Thirteen of E Clampus Vitus.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the E Clampus Vitus, and the Pony Express National Historic Trail marker series.
 
Location. 38° 1.208′ N, 122° 8.226′ W. Marker is in Martinez, California, in Contra Costa County. Marker is at the intersection of Joe DiMaggio Jr., Drive and Ferry Street, on the left when traveling east on Joe DiMaggio Jr., Drive. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Martinez CA 94553, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are
 
Entrance to Martinez Regional Shoreline with Marker in the Background Photo, Click for full size
By Andrew Ruppenstein, February 8, 2009
2. Entrance to Martinez Regional Shoreline with Marker in the Background
 
within walking distance of this marker. Southern Pacific R.R. Depot (within shouting distance of this marker); Pony Express Ferry "Carquinez" (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Martinez Troops-In-Transit Canteen (about 300 feet away); 815 Marina Vista (about 400 feet away); Borland Home (about 800 feet away); Contra Costa County Courthouse (approx. 0.2 miles away); Bergamini Building (approx. 0.2 miles away); Hook Building (approx. 0.2 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Martinez.
 
More about this marker. The marker is mounted on a stone monument very near the entrance of Martinez Regional Shoreline Park, right where Joe DiMaggio, Jr. Drive splits east off of Ferry Street.
 
Regarding Martinez-Benicia Ferry. J.P. Munro-Frasier's History of Contra Costa County notes that on August 19th, 1850, the county court granted license to Coffin for the Benicia-Martinez ferry route, but that his charges were limited to the following tariffs: $1 per man; $2 per horse, mule, or ox (or $2.50 for man with a horse); $5 per wagon; $4 for a carriage; and $0.50 per head of sheep or hogs.
 
Also see . . .  "Carquinez". The steam ferry boat "Carquinez" was used to transport the Pony Express rider and horse between Benicia and Martinez, California, when the mail was routed overland between Sacramento and Oakland due to missed boat connections in Sacramento.
In 1851 Oliver C. Coffin and Seth Swain were granted the exclusive franchise to operate a ferry across the Carquinez Strait on the Sacramento River between Martinez, the county seat of Contra Costa County, and Benicia. In 1854 Coffin placed into service the double end dual paddle wheeler "Carquinez", the first ferry vessel used on the west coast constructed specifically for that purpose. The ferry had been framed and fitted in an eastern shipyard and shipped around the Horn as ballast in the hold of a sailing vessel.
(Submitted on November 17, 2009.) 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on November 17, 2009, by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California. This page has been viewed 1,831 times since then. Last updated on February 18, 2010, by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on November 17, 2009, by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.
 
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