But as the years passed speedier steamers replaced the sailing ship which so long was a dominating factor in the shipping world. It was then that the Santiago met her fate. No longer could she compete with her speedier adversaries, so her owners thought it advisable to either sell or scrap her. However it was seen that the vessel was still useful and she was purchased by the Associated Oil Company in 1905.
Now the Santiago is a frequent Tacoma caller. She brings fuel oil, 10,000 barrels at a time. But she does not come into Tacoma under her own power, the three masts have been cut down. She is only an oil barge and has to be towed.
The vessel is 207 feet long and has a 33-foot and one-inch beam and is commanded at the present time by George Ives of Seattle. She was constructed in 1885 by Harland & Wolf, veteran shipbuilders of Belfast. The Santiago is unique in this respect, she is an iron ship, and that type of vessel was not common in 1885.
Her oak decks have been patched with cement, and everything that is metal about her is corroded with rust. The old binnacle stand which was installed when she was built is beginning to show the wear of years.
That she was once an aristocratic ship is evident for her cabins are finished in precious hardwoods, but now they are stained by oily hands and wear. The captain's quarters were spacious and richly finished. Now the quarters are used as locker and paint rooms. even the chairs were of hardwood and a few of the original still remain, although souvenier [sic] hunters are rapidly making away with them.
In the main cabin the ship's huge brass lamp still swings, but it is not used.
The Santiago makes her headquarters in Seattle where she is frequently used to load ocean-going steamers. There are many dents is her iron sides and in some places small holes where she has been roughly bumped when going alongside a steamer, the same type of a vessel the took the supremacy of the seas away from her.
In Santiago, Captain Peter Johnson had cargo of a different sort on one trip. Mrs. Roth, in 1974, remembered: My maternal grandfather, who had been divorced for many years, off and on lived with us. He always went in for fads, which drove my father crazy, just crazy. After a while, Grandfather would be encouraged to find another place to live. Now he had a friend, I think his name was Marchand, who owned a French restaurant in Oakland. They had these regular French frogs. Mr. Marchand gave my grandfather some of them and we put them in a pond at our place across the bay. We had this house near Mills College because my father had bronchitis and the air across the bay was good for him...He couldn't sleep nights because of those frogs...They were wonderful frogs, good to eat, but they made an awful lot of noise. I think Grandfather got orders to get rid of the frogs, so one of the captains took them down to Hilo and put them in the river...That’s where the famous Hilo frogs came from.
In his Memoirs, Johnson remembered details differently. He wrote: Before we left Hilo, the two fish commissioners...called on me and wanted to know if I could bring down some live frogs...and I promised to get them...We arrived in San Francisco on a Sunday and Captain Matson invited my wife and me to lunch...His father-in-law, Mr. Low, was building a frog pond, which reminded me of my promise...Mrs. Matson said she knew a woman who lived near the foothills above Hayward who had some...After I told the woman what I wanted, she asked what I was going to do with them.
I told her I was taking them to Hilo...She then wanted to know where Hilo was...She inquired how to get there. I said, "In a ship," at which she held up her hands in horror, telling me that although she was raising frogs, she would not sell them to go way out in the ocean. She added that it would be a crime to let me take them to those faraway islands, that they would probably die after they got there, and I would not take care of them well enough to get them there alive. I suggested that if she gave me full instructions...I could deliver them safely but I could not vouch for their continued health after their arrival. Finally she decided to risk it, and the next day she sent me two dozen frogs in a large whiskey barrel with a gunny sack covering the top...
We made a fine trip of thirteen days and delivered the frogs but one a sacrifice to a large Newfoundland dog on board. His constant watch on the tempting barrel was rewarded by one frog, who put his nose through the gunny sack one day and promptly got eaten for his curiosity. After landing the remaining twenty-three frogs, they were distributed in stagnant pools around Hilo. [Johnson did not specify the date of the shipment, but he commanded the Santiago only from late 1894 to 1897.]
Their former owner needed to have had no fear, for they did thrive, multiplying very rapidly. There was one place that seemed especially suitable for them, on the Wailoa River. I would give a native boy or girl a gunny sack and a lantern, and for a reward of ten cents he would fill up the bag with frogs...
In 1902, when I arrived in San Francisco on the S.S. Rosencrans, among the various items in the cargo were twenty-four hundred dozen frogs. This was Saturday and on Sunday morning the papers had a front page item on my unusual cargo, with the number of frogs given as twenty-four thousand dozen. Monday morning on my way down to the ship, I stopped to buy some candy at a little store at the foot of Market Street. The young lady in the store seemed quite excited...and she said her aunt had been in that morning looking for me...I found out that it was from this aunt that I had bought my frogs a few years before...
So we continued the shipping of frogs to the different leading restaurants and also to Paladini, the dean of the fish market. But we flooded the market and the price went down until there was no more profit in it for the Hilo shippers from two dollars a dozen to thirty-five cents a dozen.
The frog industry became almost extinct later, for the government filled up all the stagnant pools in the Hilo district. Today they are a luxury in the islands.
--NARA, Anchorage has the Dead Vessel File for Barge Santiago, Official Number 116973.
--journal Sea Chest has citations in Vol. 10, No. 3, March 1977, pp. 103-105; Vol. 17, No. 3, March 1984, pp. 108-110; and Vol. 26, Sept '92-June '93, pp. 3-7. [Wrong Santiago]
--The Tacoma Daily Ledger. September 4, 1927. "Santiago Made Sea History; Once Queen of the Ocean, Now Only an Oil Barge." p. A-5.
Story in ELWANI #9, 1980 (Kodiak High School). By Robert Patrick Langan as told by Laurie Stephens This story called the ship the San Diego.
Elwani, Inside the life and Culture of Kodiak, published by the Kodiak High School contained interviews conducted by students. The cover of the April 1977 issue (Combined 3rd & 4th Issues) was two pictures of the remains of the ship. The inside of the front cover: "The beached hulk of the one-time presidential yacht San Diego. Once President Coolidge's official yacht, later an oil freighter in Kodiak during the war, and eventually at an uneasy grave on the beach in Monashka Bay. Source: Mr. Bob Langdon, from and unpublished article by Laurie Stephens."
Each day fine ships go sailing by Few know my days of glory For once I was a clipper ship And could tell a jolly story I'm anchored at the old oil dock The only joy I have Is when the Dolly C ties on And tows me off to sea 'tis only just across the bay But that's enough for me. For I am old and can't take the seas That used to batter me.Page 7, WILLIWAWS January 10, 1942
http://www.kadiak.org/ships/santiago/index.html This page created 2005 October 12, updated 2015 October 14, 2016 September 4