The Schooner “Maria E Smith”

From around 1887 until Wharf 3 was removed in 1926, lumber was a principle source of revenue to Redondo’s economy.  An article in the Redondo Compass in 1892 claimed that “for the past two-and-a-half years, Redondo’s wharf had done 60% of the shipping business of Los Angeles and vicinity.”  This lumber business was the result of strong economic ties with the Pacific Northwest where the lumber originated, as well as where a majority of the ships that called on Redondo were built.Maria E. Smith Grounded

One such ship was the schooner Maria E Smith.  She was a 141’ long three-mast centerboard schooner of 365 tons and was built at Port Blakely by Hall Brothers in 1881.  The Hall Brothers built the shipyard in 1880 and they manufactured a total of 77 vessels at the Port Blakely location before moving to Eagle Harbor in 1902.  The Maria E Smith was the first ship built by Hall Brothers at the Port Blakely shipyard.  Hall Brothers was largely responsible for constructing most of the schooners for the Pacific Coast lumber trade.

The Maria E Smith was commissioned for Captain James Tuft of San Francisco.  She was launched on a Saturday evening, June 4, 1881, cheered on by Bainbridge Island residents and shipwrights.  Captain Tuft was a Danish immigrant who made a name for himself by purchasing an interest in a coastal schooner and entering into the carriage of passengers for the Isthmus of Panama to San Francisco.  He later invested his earnings in shares of several vessels, including the Maria E Smith.  She ran a regular route up and down the Pacific Coast.  Her voyages were chronicled in local newspapers such as the Morning Oregonian, the San Francisco Call, and the Los Angeles Herald.

During a winter gale in March 1894, the Maria E Smith was grounded on the beach in Redondo near the Casino.  Teams of volunteers and horses were able to pull her from the beach and she continued running lumber up and down the coast for another decade until July 12, 1904 when she was abandoned at sea with no loss of life.

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