The Alma

The Alma is the last of the old sailing scows that once sailed on San Francisco Bay. She was consructed in 1891 and restored by the National Park Service so the public can catch a ride from the Hyde Street Pier to Alcatraz and Treasure Island.  It would be very exciting to brave windy conditions and choppy waters on this floating barge, so I would suggest choosing to sail on a calm day!

Fruit, vegetables, and other products produced on the peninsula farms were shipped to San Francisco in these scow schooners, two masted boats with a hinged centerboard and a fisherman's sail that caught the wind when sloughs were at low tide.

UC Berkeley photo

The bay was once full of these hard working boats.  When the tide was right, the flat bottom scows could float up creek inlets to take on cargo, then sail back to the bay and up the shore line to the city.  Hundreds of these scows could be seen during the Gold Rush era - hauling hay, grain, salt, bricks and other goods. 

During the turn of the century, Rengstorff's Landing in Mountain View was a major loading point for these hearty vessels that served like trucks or wagons on water.  In fact, the park near the Rengstorff House has a "grounded" replica of an old flat-bottomed scow, the Mountain View, that once sailed the Bay.  Today it's a playground for kids to explore and enjoy.  And perhaps, exposure to this historic little boat will someday provide them a little insight to California's history...

Playground scow

AuthorRich Monroe