The San Francicso Years: 1919-1944.
Monticello sent the Asbury Park into the Barnes and Tibbitts Shipyard in Alameda in July of 1919. The vessel was converted to oil from coal, and one funnel
was rem,oved. After the conversion work was completed, the ferry was moved to Montecello's yard where the staterooms were removed and replaced by an
open deck for automobiles.
Loaded through side ports, the Asbury Park could carry sixty cars and 2,375 passengers--a remarkably versatile vessel for the time. The ferry began work
sailing between Vallejo and San Francisco on November 1st, 1919.
In 1925 the company decided the name "Asbury Park" was no longer appropriate. Banking on the impact of publicity and tourism, they settled on City of
Sacramento. On 10 October 1925 a bottle of California champagne was smashed against the hull and the ferry officially became the City of Sacramento.
Top: In San Francisco, down to one stack and still the Asbury Park. Above: The stunning interior of
the City of Sacramento. Courtesy of SFMM.
The following year saw a number of changes made to the vessel.
Rebuilt for end loading, the bow and stern were removed. The main
deck was widened to 67 feet. A new wheelhouse and bridge were
built above the original one. This last change dropped her
passenger capacity to 2,027, but raised her auto carrying capacity
1927 saw the Monticello Steamship Company absorbed into the
Golden Gate Ferry Company. Two short years later that company
was absorbed by Southern Pacific, becoming the Southern
Pacific-Golden Gate Ferries Ltd. Company. The City of
Sacramento's assignment didn't change, but in 1931 the big ferry
was withdrawn and replaced by the Napa Valley, which was less
expensive to run.
For the next several years the big steamer was only used when
necessary. Once the ferry was even used as an excursion vessel,
traveling up the Sacramento River all the way to Stockton. By 1936,
when the San Francisco-Oakland Bay bridge opened, traffic on the
ferries dropped to near nothing. The City of Sacrmento, along with
fellow steamers Shasta, San Mateo, Yosemite, Calistoga and Napa
Valley were all offered for sale. The Puget Sound Navigation
Company (Black Ball Line) purchased all but the Calistoga and
Yosemite. The sale was completed in August of 1940, but it would
be another four years before the City of Sacramento would move to
Puget Sound. The US Maritime commission requisitioned the ferry at
the outbreak of World War II for transport duties. In December of
1942 the ferry began running between San Francisco and the
Permanente Metals Corporation Shipyard at Richmond.
On 18 May 1944 the ferry was finally released to Black Ball. A week
later the Sacramento began the trip up the coast, where the ferry
met a fierce storm that caused significant damage. After stops for
repairs in Cresent City, California, and Astoria, Oregon, the ferry
finally arrived on Puget Sound on 15 June 1944--and promptly went
in for repairs at Todd Shipyards after encountering yet another storm
on the way from Oregon to Washington.