Smoke On The Water! The Solano!

Benicia, California, is an odd little town. It's finally found some solid success as a waterfront bedroom community, but for years, it tried and failed to be more than that. There was the yearlong stint as the Golden State's seat of government. There were the military camels. There was the "BENIC-AAAAAAAHHHH!" sign that stood for years on southbound 680 just north of town. But one of the coolest things about Benicia was the grand ferry Solano and her sister ship Contra Costa. They were two mammoth ferries designed to carry a full train across the Carquinez straits between the sleepy hamlet of Port Costa and the not-so-bustling non-metropolis named for General Vallejo's wife.

Nevertheless, whorehouses and drinking establishments abounded in the two burgs, and Jack London's escapades at Benicia's Lido are legendary. Once the railroad bridge opened up in 1930, things calmed down in Southern Solano, while drivers took the Carquinez Bridge from Vallejo to Crockett beginning in 1927. Nevertheless, the Solano and Contra Costa stand as grand achievements of Bay Area engineering awesome.


The Railroad Ferry Steamer Solano [Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum]

Mukilteo Ferries: Ship Containing Cars, Passengers, Crashes [Internal]

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