Thursday, October 24, 2013

Ten Cents to Vallejo -- October 24, 2013

From the 22-November-1895 San Francisco Call. William A Coulter did many maritime drawings for the newspaper. Click on the image for a larger view. 

The steamer Sunol competed with the Hatch Brothers' Monticello Steamship Company and the Southern Pacific's boats to carry passengers and freight from Vallejo to San Francisco. Learn more about it on my ferryboat site:


The Southern Pacific Has the Fight of Its Life on Its Hands.


A Triangular Battle Between the Steamers Sunol, the Herald and the Monticello.

The war of rates goes merrily on, and each day the public gains some new advantage. The Southern Pacific has the fight of its life on hand, and it is a question with it of either sink or swim. There will be a desperate battle over the Portland and Puget Sound trade, but the right to maintain its passenger traffic between Selbys, Port Costa, Vallejo and Mare Island will be equally as bitter. To any of these points the fare by rail is $1. On Monday next Piper, Aden, Goodall & Co., in order to protect their freight business, which has been seriously cut into, propose starting a steamer which will carry passengers at 10 cents apiece.

The steamer Sunol is now being refitted for the traffic. Her saloon is being recarpeted, the steward's quarters have been fixed up, a new piano and a supply of music have been purchased, and if that and the 10-cent fare will not draw the crowd the owners of the Sunol say they will hire a brass band. The owners of the other opposition say they are in the fight to stay, and it is rumored that before this day week the Southern Pacific boat will be carrying passengers for 5 cents.

It is a triangular fight and is likely to be long continued. The contestants are Piper, Aden, Goodall & Co., owners of the stern-wheeler Sunol; Hatch Bros., owners of the screw steamer Monticello, and the Southern Pacific stern-wheeler Herald.  The Sunol is one of the fastest vessels of her class on the bay, and the races between here and Vallejo will be principally between her and the Monticello.

A couple of years ago Piper, Aden, Goodall & Co. buried the hatchet with the Southern Pacific. At that time the Sunol and Herald were running opposition and rates were down to 25 cents each way. An amicable understanding was reached by which the Herald was withdrawn and the railroad took all the passenger traffic while the Sunol got the freight. Soon after this arrangement was reached the Rosalie was put on the route in opposition, but she did not last long and was sent to Puget Sound to try her luck in the Alaskan trade.

After the Rosalie retired the railroad company had it all its own way for nearly two years in the passenger business, and all travelers to Vallejo and Mare Island had to pay $1 each way.

This state of affairs could not last forever and when the Hatch Bros, saw the opening they brought the Monticello here from Puget Sound and put her on the route. On the way to San Francisco the little craft broke down, and, strange to say, was picked, up by a Southern Pacific steamer and 'towed into port. A libel suit for the towage bill is now pending in the United States District Court.

As soon as the Monticello was repaired and put in good order she was put in opposition to the railroad. The round trip was fixed at $1 and a single fare at 75 cents.  The Southern Pacific officials could not stand any such invasion on its domain so the Herald was called out of retirement and started carrying passengers at 25 cents a single fare.

Even at the lower rate the people would not patronize the Herald and the Hatch Bros. were doing well, but they wanted to do still better. They reached out after the freight business and secured considerable of it. That aroused the ire of Piper, Aden, Goodall & Co. and thus the merry war began. As matters now stand the Monticello is carrying passengers at 75 cents the round trip, while the Herald is charging 50 cents and the Sunol 20 cents for a similar service. All the steamers leave at 4 p. m. next Monday and the race to Vallejo will be an interesting one.

"It is simply a case of self-preservation with us," said A. B. Pryor of Piper, Aden, Goodall & Co., yesterday. "We don't want any of the passenger trade, but if the Herald and Monticello are going to cut into our freight business why we'll fight back. We've got to, and that is all there is to the matter. So long as they let us alone we were contented, but when the Hatch Bros. began carrying freight at cut rates and the Southern Pacific went them one better we thought it was tune to get into the fight ourselves. From Monday next our steamer will carry passengers, and the rate will be 10 cents. If the Herald cuts the fare to 5 cents why we'll go them one better and give a round trip for 5 cents. We are in this fight to win, and I think we can stay with it as long as either the Southern .Pacific or Hatch Bros."

"Ours is a legitimate opposition to the Southern Pacific," said C. Hatch, in speaking of the matter. "We have given the people of Vallejo, Mare Island and Port Costa a better steamer service than they ever have had, and if they don't want to support us why well and good. We have carried very little freight and don't want to handle it, but when our regular customers ask us to do so what can we do in the matter? As to reducing rates we will wait and see what the traveling public is going to do in the circumstances."


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