Accession Number
This is a black and white photograph of the R. Dunsmuir's Sons coal wharf in San Francisco mounted on white card picture matting. In the foreground is water, at the midpoint is a two-masted sailboat with furled sails and three men wearing hats facing the camera. A dinghy is tied to its stern. Behind and above the sailboat is a wooden timber wharf of about 12 metres in height with three separate open framework towers with sheds at their bases. The horizontal deck of the wharf is topped with board siding that is stacked in four courses and on which is painted in capital letters "R. Dunsmuir". A wagon and at least one horse is visible on a secondary wharf platform which sits beneath the main framework structure behind and to the left of the sailboat.
This image of the Dunsmuir's coal wharf in San Francisco probably dates somewhere between 1895 and 1905.  

The wharf was connected by means of an elevated roadway to coal bunkers on land first leased, and later, owned by the Dunsmuir family. Printed letterhead used by R. Dunsmuir’s Sons Co. in 1899 indicates that these coal bunkers stretched from 324 to 354 Steuart Street and that the operation’s office was situated between them at 340 Steuart Street.1.

The Dunsmuir coal bunkers and company buildings occupied an entire city block bounded by Steuart, Folsom, Harrison, and Spear Streets. A December 1910 photograph held by the California Historical Society depicts the wharf with four open framework towers.2. A bird’s-eye view map of San Francisco published by the North American Press Association in 1912 also depicts the Dunsmuir wharf with its four open framework towers, the bunkers, and the related structures.3.

The Dunsmuir wharf and buildings no longer exist. In June 2018, the San Francisco office of Google, Inc. was situated in a large building on the old Dunsmuir coal bunker and office site. The old coal wharf is also no longer there. In June 2018, the San Francisco Fire Department’s Station 35 fireboat wharf was in approximately the same spot as the old Dunsmuir wharf. It should be noted that on modern-day maps, Steuart Street ends between Howard and Folsom Streets. The thoroughfare running in front of the old Dunsmuir property, formerly known as Steuart Street, is now named The Embaradero.

1. Royal British Columbia Museum, BC Archives GR 2731 Hopper vs. Dunsmuir transcript, Box 1, File 7. Letter dated December 1st, 1899 from John Arthur Shakespeare Lowe to Alexander White Dunsmuir. 

2. California Historical Society photo #2014.1732 SF Dec 1910 Waterfront Coal Companies. The Dunsmuir wharf is the last one in the series of wharves which start in the foreground.  In this image, a sign reading “Wellington & Comox Coal Depot” is painted on the elevated roadway which crosses Steuart Street from the wharf to the coal bunkers. At mid-point in this image is the Western Fuel Company wharf with its name and product, “New Wellington Coal” advertised in bold lettering. This firm evolved from Nanaimo’s first HBC mine which was later known as the Vancouver Coal Coal Mining and Land Company.  

3. The Exposition City San Francisco By North American Press Assn, 1912. Collection of the Society of California Pioneers.
History of Use
The history of use of this photograph is unknown. It was purchased by The Castle Society from an EBay seller in Roseville, California in 2000.
circa 1895 – 1900
12.6 cm x 0.1 cm x 12.6 cm
Paper, cardstock
Dunsmuir coal wharf, San Francisco, California, USA
Cardstock; Paper
Country of Origin
United States of America