steamer gold

The first Steamer Gold, built in 1883, is shown docked at Petaluma Harbor dock.  Warehouses for various cargos are seen in the background.  The paddleboat burned on November 18, 1920. The second Steamer Gold was built in 1899, formerly the Fort Bragg. It was out of service in 1935 and dismantled in 1940.  

The following snippets of history were prepared by volunteers at the Western Sonoma County Historical Society. For more information about local history, go to the WSCHS website at, or email comments or questions about this History Corner to Mary Dodgion at

November 1920

Steamer Gold burns at dock

The Steamer Gold, owned by the Petaluma & Santa Rosa Electric Railroad Co., was destroyed by fire at the landing, at the foot of Copeland Street, with a valuable cargo. The cargo consisted of 170 bales of hops; two carloads of potatoes, 400 bales of sacks. The fire spread to a train of freight cars standing on the track at the warehouse sheds and destroyed twelve of the cars which were loaded with cargoes from Sebastopol, Forestville, and other points. In one was a consignment of 9 cases of eggs, owned by the Poultry Producers of Central California, also fruit and mixed cargo. The cars were left on the track ready to be unloaded. They are valued at $1200 each. The fire spread from the steamer to the warehouse sheds along the waterfront of over 500’ in length and destroyed the buildings. The loss according to General Manager E.H. Maggard, will be $150,000 and is well covered by insurance. Service will not be interrupted and in the meantime Steamer Petaluma will take care of the freight until the new ones arrive. The fire started in the cargo and in less than ten minutes the steamer was a seething mass of flames. Purser Charles Lindren, who was asleep, discovered the fire and sounded the alarm and crew who were all asleep. The crew could not get off the boat by way of the landing, they proceeded to the guard side and jumped into the river, and swam out of danger. One person was reported missing and a search was conducted. Anyone filing a claim of loss will be paid promptly.

November 1945

Apple Growers Union cited for war services

“Outstanding performance in supplying perishable foods to the Armed Forces of the United States,” thus reads the certificate recently awarded the Sebastopol Apple Growers Union by the Perishable Branch, Subsistence Division, of the Army Service Forces. The certificate further reads, “Your company has materially assisted the Quartermaster Corps in making our armed forces “The best fed Army and Navy in the World.”

Report first apple exports since ward end

California’s first cars of apples for export purposes since 1941 were shipped from the Gravenstein Apple Growers Cooperative Assn. here in Sebastopol, through the Palmer C. Nendelson Co. of San Francisco. The two cars of the Rome Beauty variety went direct to Sweden under the Dickie Girl label. Although many cars of fruit have gone overseas during the war, these are the first apples to be shipped for civilian purposes.

November 1970

Congress for community progress

The Sebastopol area’s first Congress for Community Progress gets underway at the Analy High School. Described as a “revival of the time-honored New England town hall meetings,” the congress will attempt to bring together representatives from all levels of community life and unite them in the common purpose of community progress. There will be six panels that will discuss economic development, civic services, education and youth, recreation and conservation, civic pride, and roads and highways. Chairman is Jack Gerboth, Analy High School teacher, who is assisted by William Siden, the community development consultant for PG&E, which has organized and sponsored congresses throughout Northern California since 1859.

This article is a who’s who naming many local businessmen, teachers, students, and civil servants who served as leaders and committee members. But this wasn’t the first “town hall” group organized in Sebastopol. The February History Corner noted in 1945 the organization of the Sebastopol Community Forum, where the same topics would be discussed.

November 2020

West County Museum happenings

The Evergreen Lodge IOOF has provided us a look at the past in the form of minute books. They include Bloomfield Lodge #191 from 1879–1923 plus the Rebekah minute books 1885–1928 along with Rebekah books from Alder Glen, Occidental Rebekah Lodge #5 from 1900–1925. These books have given a look at the past giving facts like; Bloomfield Lodge was originally called The Hall of Valley Ford, changing the name in May 1882; the “Relief Lodge” #186 was consolidated with lodge #191 in 1884; an the Rebekah’s #91 organized around 1885. Also mentioned is the 10th anniversary of the Occidental Lodge #5 in 1885. And, the formation of the Forestville Lodge #320 in 1887. The Sebastopol Evergreen Lodge was instituted on July 12, 1869, and we see the alphabetic name list of those members.

You might think that work has stopped at the museum, but that is far from the truth. Volunteers are working from home scanning photographs, fielding requests from the public, and receiving objects for our archives. Since COVID has required many to stay at home we want to let you know that we have many projects that can be completed from home. If you would like more information, please call the museum or email to the address listed in this column.

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