A Hot Ticket The S.S. California was in demand during the Gold Rush.

S.S. California true west magazine
S.S. California.

The S.S. California was built in 1848 to take mail and passengers from Panama to California.  But its services grew in demand when the Gold Rush started.

In January 1849, a huge throng traveled from the US East Coast to Panama to catch a ride to the gold fields.  Four hundred people were chosen by lottery and paid $200 per ticket—a huge sum at the time.

When the California arrived in San Francisco, almost all of the crew deserted to hunt treasure.  It took two months to hire a new crew for the return voyage.

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