R.J. Waters photo railway steamship ‘Solano’ San Francisco CA c. 1900

$150.00 CAD

| /

Attractive silver gelatin print of the steamship 'Solano' under full steam. It was used to ferry entire trains on the Central Pacific transcontinental line to and from the San Francisco Bay Area.

Photo is by the famed California photographer Raper James Waters. His work is in several museums and institutions.

Printed on negative

No. 634 Str. Solano. Port Costa.      Waters

Photo glued to filigreed cardboard backing. Oval impressed into backing LR:

          R.J. WATERS
       110 SUTTER ST.


Indistinct purple oval stamp on back (collection?).

Small rust spot left of middle funnel. Small stain lower border of photo. UL corner crease in frame.

Photo: 5” x 7”    Card; 7⅛” X 9”

(Red text is an electronic watermark that is not physically part of the photo for sale)



RJ Waters (1856-1937) was born in Virginia City, NV and worked out of Gold Hill, NV until his move to San Francisco. His outdoor views of Tahoe, Gold Hill, Virginia City and the Sierras ranked him among the best photographers of his time. After the 1906 disaster that destroyed much of San Francisco, the California Insurance Company made the unusual decision to cover losses from the earthquake, even though it was not obligated to. It was the only insurance company that did this. Besides providing an important kick-start to the rebuilding effort, this gesture brought new customers. To emphasize their important contribution to the rebuilding of San Francisco, the insurance company commissioned a photographer, R.J. Waters & Co., to make a large panorama photograph of San Francisco on April 22, 1906 He became well known for his photos of the SF quake and did some innovative work for the Pan Pacific Exposition in 1915 by launching a camera in a balloon contraption to get the first "aerial photos" of the exposition.


The Solano was a large railroad ferry, built as a sidewheel paddleboat that operated across the Carquinez Strait between Benicia and Port Costa in California.

She was built at near the end of Long Wharf and commenced trials on 24 November 1879…She was constructed and operated by the Central Pacific Railroad to ferry entire trains (up to 48 cars at a time) on the Central Pacific transcontinental line to and from the San Francisco Bay Area. Once in service, the transcontinental railroad was re-routed to the sea level ferry crossing from its original course into the Bay Area via the Altamont Pass. Before her sister ship, Contra Costa, was constructed, Solano was the largest ferryboat ever built.

She was 425 feet long and 116 feet wide and was capable of carrying entire passenger trains or a 48-car freight train and locomotive. She was in service from 1879 to 1930.