|The side-wheel Ramona served as a commuter ferry between San Diego and Coronado 1903 to 1929. Image courtesy San Diego History Center via San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles|
GUEST BLOG—By Molly Brown—On the morning of July 21, 1905, all those aboard the 118-foot long ferry Ramona heard the boiler room explosion that racked the USS Bennington, which was berthed in San Diego Harbor. Immediately, the captain of the Ramona steered toward the sinking warship to rescue as many sailors as possible before returning to its usual ferry route between San Diego and Coronado.
The rest of the Ramona’s career was not as dramatic. Built in Alameda, CA in 1903 by John Dickie and son David Dickie, who brought the ferry with them when they moved to San Diego to re-establish their shipyard, the Ramona replaced the smaller ferry Benicia.
As a steam powered side-wheeler, the Ramona was the first ferry in John D. Spreckels’ owned San Diego and Coronado Ferry Company fleet to boast incandescent lights to go along with its 700 horse power engine.
The Ramona served as a ferry until replaced in 1929 by larger ferries. A highlight of her retirement years was to serve as a floating dine and dance night club anchored off of Shelter Island. It was in that capacity that the Ramona went under during a dark and stormy night in January, 1937.
Today, the only remains of the Ramona is her name plate that can be seen aboard the ferry Berkeley, which is now berthed along the Embaradero and part of San Diego’s Maritime Museum.
The USS Bennington was eventually towed for repairs to Mare Island in the Bay Area. But the ship was too far gone and sold for scrap to a Hawaii firm. But even that fate didn’t befall the gunboat as it was eventually sunk near Hawaii, where it now rests.
|Ramona sank in San Diego Bay January, 1937 during a bad storm|