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,
Living at Last
Today beneath the surface and between the tides, the Palo Alto is a habitat for wildlife. As a rocky island in a sea of sand, the ship offers refuge for animals that require a hard substrate for a home. With old age the Palo Alto is perhaps, at its best – a sanctuary for wildlife whose price is invaluable.
[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
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Entertainment • Waterways & Vessels.
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. The marker is located at the Visitor's Center in Seacliff State Park. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 743 Las Olas Drive, Aptos CA 95003, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Seacliff SS Palo Alto 100 years (here, next to this marker); Hotel Bayview (approx. 0.8 miles away); China Beach (approx. 1.4 miles away); Capitola’s Natural RichesCamp Capitola Superintendent’s Office (approx. 2 miles away); Historic Lawn Way Cottages (approx. 2.1 miles away); Venetian Court (approx. 2.2 miles away); Charlotte (Charlie) Parkhurst (approx. 2.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Aptos.
Also see . . . S. S. Palo Alto. A short history along with vintage photos of the cement ship. (Submitted on November 26, 2011.)
Credits. This page was last revised on August 29, 2020. It was originally submitted on November 26, 2011, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 899 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on November 26, 2011, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. 8, 9. submitted on January 21, 2017, by Frank Gunshow Sanchez of Hollister, California. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.