Many Facts Per March 4, 1905 Scientific American
1879 Solano Carried First Train
1905 Solano Rebuilt to handle larger and heavier trains
1915 Contra Costa added to run
1916 Solano Rebuilt to handle larger and heavier trains
1929 Benicia-Martinez Railroad Bridge construction started
1930 Bridge finished, Last Sailing of the Solano
1931 Solano sunk as a breakwater near Antioch, California (she is still there today).
Length: 424 feet (length of deck with 4 tracks)
Width over guards: 116 feet, 8 inches
Registered Tonnage: 3549 Tons
Draws (1905): 6 feet, 4 inches light; 10 feet, 7 inches loaded
Steam Engines: Two independent Vertical Walking Beam Engines each having a 5 foot diameter piston and an eleven foot up and down stroke developing 2,252 HP each
Paddle Wheels: Two independent wheels each 30 feet in diameter (as high as a commercial 3 story building), with a 24 inch diameter shaft and 24 buckets
Boilers: Eight Boilers (6 in use, 2 being serviced while boat was transporting trains)
Steering: Four rudders at each end of the boat, controlled by a steering lever in each pilot house which operates a valve and uses a steam driven hydraulic pump to move a piston connected to the rudders.
Capacity: Two Pacific 4-6-2 locomotives (SP P-1, P-3, P-4 & P-5’s), 17 or 18 heavy-weight Pullman sleeper and baggage cars and the “Boat Goat” (0-6-0 switcher)
Crew: Two Crews of 17 men each, working 12 hour shifts
Location: Carried entire trains across the Carquinez Strait between Benicia and Port Costa, California, on the Central Pacific and the Southern Pacific mainline connecting Sacramento with Oakland (San Francisco), California on the extension of the original Transcontinental Railroad.
Description: 1 mile crossing, 8 foot average tide, 13 foot extreme tide, 8 miles per hour bi-directional current. Fog was of main concern.
Probably the busiest train ferry in the world:
In 1904 she handled approximately 115,000 freight cars and 56,000 passenger cars in one year. (that is averaging 315 freight cars and 153 passenger cars daily, 365 days a year).
In 1904 she was making thirty six to forty six crossings every 24 hours (that’s averaging a trip every 31 to 40 minutes, day and night, seven days a week, 365 days a year).
October 8, 1909, Time Table shows 23 scheduled passenger trains crossing on the Solano per day.
PASSENGER TRAINS CARRIED ON THE SOLANO DURING 51 YEARS OF SERVICE
Transcontinental Trains San Francisco – Ogden – Omaha - Chicago
San Francisco Overland Limited
Gold Coast Limited
San Francisco – Nevada
San Francisco – Portland, Oregon
San Francisco Express
San Francisco - Sacramento
Sacramento & Oroville Passenger
Bay City Local