Sunday, November 1, 2015

A Little Gem near Fisherman's Wharf: SF's Maritime National Historic Park

Early San Francisco
Interested in things nautical and have a little time in San Francisco?  The National Park Service has a little gem of an exhibit right at Fisherman's Wharf.  It is the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park located at the Hyde Street Pier.

Fresnel Lighthouse Lens
The exhibit consists of a visitor's center, a number of 19th and early 20th century maritime vessels and a beach and cove area.  There is also a research center located about 10 minutes away from the park.

The Visitor's center has a number of exhibits, the most impressive of which is a massive First Order Fresnel Lighthouse Lens.

The Square-Rigger Balclutha
Most interesting, as you might expect, are the sailing and steam vessels.  There are normally 8 ships available for boarding and viewing. One, the 1895 schooner, C.A. Thayer is currently undergoing maintenance at a shipyard in Alameda to return in February or March 2016 with new masts and rigging. The other seven range from the 1886 square-rigger Balclutha to the 1915 steam schooner Wapama. 

The Tug Hercules
One of the more interesting ships is the 1907 steam tug Hercules. It is amazing how this vessel resembles modern day tug boats (and, for those of you who remember, "Little Toot the Tugboat"). To round out the rest of the ships there is the 1890 steam ferryboat Eureka, the 1891 scow schooner Alma, the 1914 paddlewheel tug Appleton Hall and the 1890 (circa) San Francisco Bay Ark.

Norwegian Pram
There is also a little beach area where sits a beautifully restored 19th century Norwegian Pram.
Best of the Best Seafood
But, the best part of all of this is that it is just a few piers away from the heart of Fisherman's Wharf.  If you are into seafood, then this is your paradise.  The restaurants can be VERY touristy and expensive, but if you know any locals (and I'm sure most of us have some long-lost fifth cousin living in San Francisco), ask and they will point out the best of the food and at reasonable prices!

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