The California, beautifully illustrated in this print by the famous firm Currier and Ives, was the first steamship to offer regular service between the West and East Coats of the United States.

Illustration by Currier and Ives, courtesy of the Library of Congress
  • On February 28, 1849, the first regular steamship service between the West Coast and East Coast of the United States completed its first run. The SS California arrived in San Francisco Bay four months and 21 days after leaving New York Harbor. The California traveled all the way around South America, navigating Cape Horn at the southern end of the continent.
    The California's trip marked the first large-scale connection between the western and eastern United States. Before this time, passing messages and packages required overland travel by horse or wagon. This was neither practical nor efficient. Steamship service, followed by railroads, automobile highways, and airline routes helped to create faster and more efficient transcontinental travel. Traveling from New York to San Francisco has gone from a four-month, 21-day sea voyage to a six-hour airplane ride.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    airline Noun

    system or business that provides air transportation.

    bay Noun

    body of water partially surrounded by land, usually with a wide mouth to a larger body of water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: bay
    cape Noun

    point of land that extends into a body of water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: cape
    continent Noun

    one of the seven main land masses on Earth.

    Encyclopedic Entry: continent
    harbor Noun

    part of a body of water deep enough for ships to dock.

    Encyclopedic Entry: harbor
    highway Noun

    large public road.

    railroad Noun

    road constructed with metal tracks on which trains travel.

    route Noun

    path or way.

    transcontinental Adjective

    extending across an entire continent.