Tennessee Cove, Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Tennessee Cove, Golden Gate National Recreation Area

by | Apr 16, 2020

Tennessee Cove is an embayment on the Pacific Ocean with a sandy beach about 10 miles (16 km) northwest of San Francisco and 3.6 miles (5.8 km) southwest of Mill Valley, California. The cove is named after the SS Tennessee, a steamship that ran aground near here on March 6, 1853. Remnants of the ship can still be seen during winter low tides at the south end of the beach.

Tennessee was a wooden side-wheel steamship built by William H. Webb at New York in 1848 for the New York and Savannah Steam Navigation Company. The ship displaced 1,275 tons, and was 211 feet (64 m) long, with a beam of 36 feet (11 m) and a draft of 22 feet (6.7 m). The company operated steamers carrying passengers, high freight goods, and cotton between Savannah, Georgia, and New York. In 1849, Tennessee was sold and modified to carry more passengers, and sent into the Pacific to join the Pacific Mail Steamship Company’s line of steamers connecting Panama and San Francisco. The California Gold Rush had attracted tens of thousands of eager fortune-seekers to the Panama route, and dozens of vessels. Tennessee made 29 voyages between Panama and San Francisco carrying passengers, high-duty freight, the U.S. Mail, and gold.

On March 6, 1853, Tennessee was steaming toward the Golden Gate in fog, commanded by Captain Edward Mellus who was not aware of the outgoing tide’s strong current that was sweeping Tennessee north past the Gate towards the Marin Peninsula shoreline. The ship’s lookout sighted breakers, and Mellus ordered the engines reversed, however, rocks blocked the ship and Mellus had no choice but to beach the ship. It was hoped that the ship could be pulled off but heavy surf on March 8 broke the keel, ruptured the steam pipes, and flooded the hull. The crew managed to salvage the mail, the baggage, and the gold. By March 21, the remains of Tennessee had mostly disintegrated in the surf. Read more here and here. Explore more of Tennessee Cove Beach here:

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This ‘warming stripe’ graphic is a visual representation of the change in global temperature from 1850 (top) to 2021 (bottom). Each stripe represents the average global temperature for one year. The average temperature from 1971-2000 is set as the boundary between blue and red. The color scale goes from -0.7°C to +0.7°C. The data are from the UK Met Office HadCRUT4.6 dataset. 

Credit: Professor Ed Hawkins (University of Reading). Click here for more information about the #warmingstripes.

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