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A guide to the Captain Charles Scammon records, 1865-1946
HDC0340 (SAFR 17257)  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Publication and Use Rights
  • Processing Note
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Historical or Biographical Note
  • Collection Scope and Content
  • Collection Arrangement

  • Title: Captain Charles Scammon records
    Date: 1865-1946
    Identifier/Call Number: HDC0340 (SAFR 17257)
    Creator: Unknown
    Physical Description: 2 items.
    Repository: San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, Historic Documents Department
    Building E, Fort Mason
    San Francisco, CA 94123
    Abstract: Captain Charles Scammon records (SAFR 17257, HDC 340) contain Scammon's private journal (a typescript and a carbon copy) written between 1865 and 1866 while leading an expedition to Alaska and Siberia on behalf of the Treasury Department and Western Union Telegraph Company. The expedition's mission was to conduct soundings in the Bering Sea to ascertain the possibility of laying a telegraph cable across the Bering Sea to reach Europe (in lieu of a trans-Atlantic cable). The flag ship on this expedition was the barkentine GOLDEN GATE. In addition, there are two folders of various records including correspondence, typed and handwritten. The collection is available for research use without restriction.
    Physical Location: San Francisco Maritime NHP, Historic Documents Department
    Language(s): In English.

    Access

    This collection is open for use unless otherwise noted.

    Publication and Use Rights

    Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the researcher's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

    Processing Note

    The descriptions in this collection guide were compiled using the best available sources of information. Such sources include the creator's annotations or descriptions, collection accession files, primary and secondary source material and subject matter experts. While every effort was made to provide accurate information, in the event that you find any errors in this guide please contact the reference staff in order for us to evaulate and make corrections to this guide.
    Please cite the title and collection number in any correspondence with our staff.

    Preferred Citation

    [Item description], [Location within collection organization identified by Collection Number/Series Number/File Unit Number/Item Number], HDC0340 (SAFR 17257), Captain Charles Scammon records, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

    Acquisition Information

    SAFR-00001
    This collection was transferred from Golden Gate National Recreation Area to San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park.

    Historical or Biographical Note

    In 1861, Captain Scammon abandoned whaling to become a lieutenant in the U.S. Revenue Service, now the Coast Guard. He became a captain in 1865 when he was assigned the command of a fleet of eight ships. Although sailing under the U.S. Revenue Service flag, this fleet was actually part of the Western Union Telegraph Expedition, under the general command of Colonel Charles S. Bulkely, Engineer in Chief for the Western Union Company.
    This telegraph expedition is an interesting but forgotten episode of history. At the time of its departure, a successful Atlantic cable was yet to be laid and the project seemed impossible. Many people had come to believe, however, that it would be more practical to lay a cable across Canada, beneath the Bering Strait and thence across Siberia, and that was the purpose of this expedition, to find a route for such a cable. A land party under the command of Colonel Bulkely conducted the survey across British Columbia.
    The maritime division of this expedition under Captain Scammon made soundings in the Bering Sea and established a base on the Siberian coast. The flotilla sailed from San Francisco and consisted of the Bark GOLDEN GATE, as the flagship, the barks PALMETTO, ONWARD, CLARA BELL, H.S. RUTGERS, the steamer GEORGE S. WRIGHT and the Schooner MILTON BADGER.
    This expedition probably had some influence on the purchase of Alaska in 1867. However, the successful completion of the Atlantic cable in July 1866, eliminated the need for a trans-Siberian route.
    (adapted from a biography contained in the collection)

    Collection Scope and Content

    Captain Charles Scammon records (SAFR 17257, HDC 340) contain Scammon's private journal (a typescript and a carbon copy) written between 1865 and 1866 while leading an expedition to Alaska and Siberia on behalf of the Treasury Department and Western Union Telegraph Company. The expedition's mission was to conduct soundings in the Bering Sea to ascertain the possibility of laying a telegraph cable across the Bering Sea to reach Europe (in lieu of a trans-Atlantic cable). The flag ship on this expedition was the barkentine GOLDEN GATE. In addition, there are two folders of various records including correspondence, typed and handwritten. The collection is available for research use without restriction.

    Collection Arrangement

    This collection is arranged into four folders: two for the journal and two for the other materials.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Scammon, Charles Melville, 1825-1911
    Western Union Telegraph Company
    United States Coast Guard
    Bering Sea
    Siberia
    Official reports
    Correspondence
    Logbook
    Journals (accounts)