THE CREEK FERRIES OF EARLY DAYS (No. 2)
By Henry Maloon
Word had gone abroad that on a certain day and time the new boat would stop at Main Street (Broadway) wharf for passengers and freight and would pay no dockage to Carpentier or Minturn. So the people all turned out to see the fun.
In the meantime Carpentier had gathered his men to resist the landing. The Contra Costa, with double lines fastened to the wharf, lay across the front with no space for another boat. Down the estuary came the San Antonio with her flags flying, and about one hundred determined men standing on her bow. She stopped alongside of the Contra Costa, the captain making a demand that the Minturn boat drop astern.
The request was refused. Excitement ran high.
The San Antonio had backed up stream and the Minturn men sent up a cheer at the defeat of the new boat. But it was of short duration. The cry went up, "Here she comes" and the San Antonio headed straight for the bow of the Minturn boat under full steam. There was a crash. The Contra Costa had been cast adrift. The San Antonio made fast safely to the wharf while a small man with a plus hat walked to his den on Main street. The people came to the support of the new company. Fare and freights were reduced.
One Sunday morning the Contra Costa blew up on the bar. The Clinton was drawn off the route and the new company had almost undisputed sway.
After a few years the Larue Company sold its boats and a new boat, the Oakland, was built and she ran in conjunction with the San Antonio.
The Seventh Street local railroad was completed in 1863. with trains running to the terminus at Seventh and Broadway. greatly reducing the passenger travel on the creek boats.
About this time gold was "discovered" at San Antonio (now East Oakland) in the vicinity north of East Fourteenth street, between Fifteenth and Twenty-second avenues. The report spread like wildfire and thousands crossed the bay by the creek boats to the new Eldorado. Soon the whole hillside was staked out with mining claims and with pick and shovel they set to work..
They dug, tunneled and drifted, but no gold. Then a cry went up - as the secret leaked out - that a hole had been salted. The steamboat company was richer by thousands of dollars in ferry fares from duped miners-to-be.
With the large drop in passenger travel the price on freight was given a decided increase, the local road (on Seventh street) not handling freight, and on this increase the creek boats met their Waterloo, as will be seen,