Primary Source


Photograph of a ship with three masts tied to a dock.


Balclutha was built in 1886 on the River Clyde near Glasgow, Scotland, for Robert McMillan, a Glaswegian shipbuilder who occasionally owned ships as a side-business. Balclutha was first built to capitalize on the then booming wheat trade around Cape Horn with California, but in 1899, Balclutha was sold to a group of three San Francisco companies to be used in the lumber trade with Australia. In 1904, Balclutha was sold again, this time to the Alaska Packers Association, another San Francisco Bay based company, was renamed Star of Alaska, and was a part of their salmon canning fleet until its last voyage to Alaska in 1930. After being bought by Frank and Rose Kissinger in 1932, Balclutha was renamed Pacific Queen, repurposed as an exhibit ship, and after a brief movie career as a background ship in the 1935 version of Mutiny on the Bounty, was towed up and down the California coast until the foundation of the San Francisco Maritime Museum in the early-1950s. Re-renamed Balclutha, it is now over 135 years old and - thanks to the work of numerous rangers, guides, preservationists, deckhands, riggers, instructors, non-profit employees, and volunteers – it teaches the important maritime history of San Francisco and the world to hundreds of thousands of visitors and students a year.

This source is a part of the Using Ships as Guides for Transnational Adventures through World History teaching module.

How to Cite This Source

"Balclutha," in World History Commons, [accessed December 1, 2021]