Wheels of the West, Leonard McKay

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By 1852 scheduled steamboat travel existed between San Francisco and San Jose. The Jenny Lind, a side-wheeler of 61 tons, was built in 1850 and assigned to the route. Steamboats were the most comfortable way to travel between San Francisco and San Jose - unless you enjoyed having your bones rattled about in a stagecoach. The road between San Jose and San Francisco was almost as bad as present day Highway 87.

Hygiene was not a top priority as can be surmised from F. Marryat's account: "On starting from San Francisco, it was but natural to bid adieu to cleanliness and comfort for the time being: and having so fortified myself, I was better able to withstand the intolerable filth of the Jenny Lind. She has since blown up, which is about the only thing that could have purified her."
Frank Marryat

The following is from Leonard McKays book Wheels of the West:
"On April 11, 1853, the Jenny Lind did indeed blow up. Accounts vary, but probably the facts given in the Daily Alta California of San Francisco on April 12 are reasonably accurate. At a little past noon, passing the Pugas Rancho about four miles out of Alviso, the hand-hole in the head of the boiler blew out. The entire head of steam followed, blowing through the cabin bulkhead where most of the passengers were eating dinner. Very little damage occurred elsewhere on the ship, and had it been an hour earlier it is possible that no one would have been hurt."
Leonard McKay

31 people died in the explosion. Fatalities included Jacob D. Hoppe and Charles White. Both prominent in San Jose history.



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