The Sunken Dreams of the SS Palo Alto

The SS Palo Alto was built in the Oakland Naval Shipyard with the intention of using it during World War 1 as a tanker. At the time, steel was difficult to come by, so the ship was built of concrete. The ship never went into service for the war. Instead, the Cal-Nevada company purchased the ship, brought it to Sea Cliff State Beach and turned it into an amusement and fishing boat. There was a cafe, a dance floor, and various concession. The pier at Sea Cliff was built specifically to allow people to walk to the boat.

After only two years, the Cal-Nevada company went bankrupt, the ship was stripped of its amusements, and there it sat—and sits today. It has deteriorated into an unsafe state, as has the end section of the pier. Today, one can walk partway down the pier to where it is fenced off. The unsafe portion of the pier is home to numerous pelicans and gulls. As you can see in the image, the ship is barely recognizable as a ship. The beach is quite lovely and has a campground as well as a picnic area.


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