Chronicles of Early Ascents of Half Dome — Appendix:
William Gleadell's voyage to California aboard Hoghton Tower in 1883

From Gleadell's biography: "Soon after leaving school he contracted an illness for which the doctors recommended a long sea voyage. So his father arranged a voyage for him in the White Star Line sailing ship, "Houghton Tower" to San Francisco and back, which involved rounding the Horn each way. He shipped as one of five apprentices..."

Clipper Hoghton Tower in San Francisco, before 1875

Watkins' stereoview #1603: Hoghton Tower,
Capt. E. Trumble, in San Francisco, on one of earlier
trips to California (probably before 1875).

Hoghton Tower (frequently misspelled as "Houghton Tower", 1598 tons, was a three-masted, square-rigged iron clipper ship. It was built in about 1869 for the White Star Line, and was under command of Captain Edward Trumble for almost twenty years. Hoghton Tower made at least two trips to San Francisco prior to Gleadell's 1883 voyage: In April 1871, and July 1882. Watkins took a stereoview of the ship in the Port of San Francisco some time before 1875, perhaps during her first visit in April 1871.

Clipper ships were some of the fastest sailing ships on the ocean, but Hoghton Tower was in no rush this time. Young Gleadell boarded the clipper early in March 1883, and the ship left Liverpool on Friday, March 9 (see The Times, London, March 10, 1883, p. 12, col G, or the New York Times, the same date, under "Marine Intelligence"). Hoghton Tower made an emergency stop in Brazil, at Sri Salvador, capital of the state of Bahia, situated on the Bay of All Saints (Bahia de Todos os Santos), in April and May. It took another three months to go around the Horn, then north, along Pacific Coast of South America to San Francisco.

From a note in the Daily Alta California of September 1, 1883, p. 4, we learn that "British ship Hoghton Tower, under Capt. Trumble, reached the port of San Francisco on [Friday] August 31; at the sea for 175 days from Liverpool, and 99 days from Bahia". The London Times made the same announcement, to delight and relief of Gleadell's family, on September 3, 1883, p. 8, col C.

San Francisco's Daily Evening Bulletin, August 31, 1883, p. 3, has the following description of the trip, taken from Captain's memorandum: "Sailed from Liverpool Mar 9; had heavy weather in the Atlantic, during which shifted cargo and damaged rigging and put into Bahia Apr 20; repaired, etc., and sailed May 24; was 12 days from... [unreadable] off Cape Horn had fine weather and easterly winds; since leaving Bahia have had fine weather generally; crossed equator in Pacific Aug 2, 121 W; had fresh NE trades to 37 N, 140 W; thence to port had light winds and calms with the exception of the last twenty-four hours; then fresh NNW winds to port".

A note in the Daily Evening Bulletin of September 5, states that "The Hoghton Tower is unloading an assorted cargo from Liverpool at the seawall". The same paper says on September 22, 1883: "The Hoghton Tower has discharged and has gone into the stream to wait business". While the ship was idle, waiting for cargo, her crew was allowed to do some siteseeing. Young Gleadell must have used this opportunity to visit Yosemite.

Another story about this trip came to light a few days later. It is hard to tell how accurate the report is.

Daily Evening Bulletin, San Francisco, September 24, 1883, p. 1:

Billows of Bright Champagne.—The British ship Hoghton Tower, which arrived at this port from Liverpool a few days ago, reports that during heavy weather between Liverpool and Brazil, it was necessary to shift the cargo, which was largely composed of liquors. The sailors "shifted" $500 worth of choice champagne and other fine liquors down their throats, and so adroit was the management of the tarry mariners, the sober ones helping the drunken ones out of sight, that the "shifting" continued undetected for several days. But at Rio Janeiro the men were arrested and locked up and a new crew was shipped. It was not necessary to "shift" the cargo between Brazil and San Francisco.

The Daily Evening Bulletin, of October 18, 1883 says (p. 3): "The Hoghton Tower... has finished discharging and will commence to load wheat right away..." On October 24 (p. 3): "The Hoghton Tower... was taken to Port Costa yesterday to load wheat..." The same paper reported on October 26 (p. 3): "The following [nine] vessels are now loaded and in the stream: Hoghton Tower, [etc...] Some of these vessels have had their cargo aboard for several days, while others finished only yesterday. It is thought the whole 9 will be cleared within two or three days". On Thursday, November 8, "Br. ship Hoghton Tower, [Capt.] Trumble" got clearance to leave San Francisco (Daily Evening Bulletin, November 8, 1883, p. 3). Finally, on Saturday, November 10, 1883, Hoghton Tower's departured from San Francisco, possibly for Cork (Evening Bulletin, November 10, 1883, p. 3). Not much is known about the trip back home, but ship's arrival to Liverpool was recorded in The Times, London, April 5, 1884, p. 13: "Home Arrivals: Liverpool, [Thursday] April 3—Houghton Tower [from] San Francisco". It took Hoghton Tower a year and a month for just that one journey from Liverpool to San Francisco and back. No doubt, William Henry Gleadell brought home enough memories for a lifetime from that trip.

Chronicles of Early Ascents of Half Dome