Aptos in Santa Cruz County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
S.S. Palo Alto
A Ship of Stone
Plans for a concrete shipping fleet were born in the course of the WWI war effort when steel was in short supply. As fate would have it, the $1.5 million dollar order for the Palo Alto came in 1918, less than six months before the end of the war. After her launch the Palo Alto sat solemnly at anchor in Oakland, California, an oil tanker without a cargo. Then, in 1924, without ceremony, she was sold as scrap for the price of $18,750.
All Aboard for Fun
Humbly under tow, the Palo Alto began her final voyage to Seacliff Beach in 1930. Ambitious plans were underway to develop the ship into an entertainment resort which would include a ballroom, restaurant, swimming pool and arcade.
Once again the Palo Alto fell victim to poor timing. Opening to great fanfare in the midst of the Great Depression, the resort failed within two years. In February of 1936 the ship was sold to the State for one dollar.
Living at Last
Today beneath the surface and between the tides,
[Photo captions: top to bottom, left to right]:
A cement ship in the making, Oakland, CA, 1919 • Launch of the Palo Alto on May 29, 1919 • The Palo Alto underway, a rare sight • The Palo Alto arrives at Seacliff Beach, January, 1930
Location. 36° 58.349′ N, 121° 54.821′ W. Marker is in Aptos, California, in Santa Cruz County. Marker can be reached from Las Olas Drive. Click for map. The marker is located at the Visitor's Center in Seacliff State Park. Marker is at or near this postal address: 743 Las Olas Drive, Aptos CA 95003, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Hotel Bayview (approx. 0.8 miles away); China Beach (approx. 1.4 miles away); Capitola’s Natural Riches (approx. 2 miles away); Camp Capitola Superintendent’s Office (approx. 2 miles away); Venetian Court (approx. 2.2 miles away); Charlotte (Charlie) Parkhurst First High Altitude Airplane Flights March 1905 (approx. 3.1 miles away); The Butterfield Stage stopped here. (approx. 3.2 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Aptos.
Also see . . .
1. S. S. Palo Alto. A short history along with vintage photos of the cement ship. (Submitted on November 26, 2011.)
2. Our Ocean Backyard: Ships of Cement. An article published January 29, 2011 by Gary Griggs gives a history of cement ships including the S.S. Palo Alto and her sister cement ship the S.S. Peralta. (Submitted on November 26, 2011.)
Categories. • Entertainment • Waterways & Vessels •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 763 times since then and 94 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on , by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. 8, 9. submitted on , by Francisco Sanchez Ruiz of Hollister, California. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on January 21, 2017.