Monday, February 18, 2008

The first California Aquarium Car

From: "Noah Belikoff"

I thought you all might find the attached articles interesting. They describe the first attempt by the U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries to transport live eastern fish (and lobsters) from New England for stocking in California's waterways in June of 1873.

It was a disaster ... literally. Heavy rains had undermined a trestle over the Elkhorn River in Nebraska; it gave way, precipitating the engine and the then-famed "California Aquarium Car" into the river. Nebraska was the inadvertent recipient of California's loss. (Manna to any Nebraskans lucky enough to enjoy the lobsters while they lasted!)

The intrepid Commissioner who accompanied the precious cargo managed to survive the ordeal and immediately returned to the east coast, successfully delivering 40,000 shad to the Golden State only three weeks later.

The attached Daily Alta California article is actually an uncredited excerpt (a common practice in those days) of a longer article published in the Omaha Daily Herald of June 10, 1873. See also the Omaha Weekly Bee of June 11 for further details.

After getting off to a rough start, successful deliveries of live fish on the transcontinental railroad to western destinations became routine from 1874 forward.


Daily Alta California 6-10-1873
Daily Alta California 6-10-1873

San Francisco Examiner 6-11-1873
SF Examiner 6-11-1873
Newspaper articles courtesy of Noah Belikoff.