The SS California was launched in May 1848. It had been on the drawing boards for some time, and government subsidies helped make it possible. It (and two other steamships were supposed to deliver mail and freight from the East Coast to California.
But the discovery of gold in California changed that, and the emphasis focused on passengers. The ship, after a four-month voyage, arrived in San Francisco on February 28, 1849. It soon took successful and failed treasure hunters back East. But within a couple of years, much larger ships had taken over the route.
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