In the San Francisco Bay Area, supplies or cargo that needs to get from one place to another is usually transported using automobiles on convenient highways. However, this wasn't always true.
During the 19th and 20th century cargo was transported around the San Francisco Bay by ships called scow schooners. Between 1850 and the early 1900s more than 400 of these ships were built to carry cargo around the bay.
One of these schooners, called the Alma, still sails today as part of the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. Visitors can take a trip on the Alma to experience this historic method of traveling around the bay for themselves.
The Alma was built by a German immigrant named Fred Siemer, who came to San Francisco in 1865 and started his own shipyard. The Alma was built for Siemer's son-in-law and named for his granddaughter.
The Alma carried cargo around the bay for more than 30 years under the ownership of Siemer's son-in-law James Peterson, and the 80-foot vessel was then sold to another owner (who installed a gasoline engine) and used to carry oyster shells for another nearly thirty years.
This particular schooner had an uncommon design, with the wood planks on the bottom laid horizontally instead of the traditional vertical plank construction. Though this meant that the Alma isn't as fast as ships with the more common construction, it was stronger.
Still in action today
In 1957 the Alma was retired from shipping work, and was bought two years later and restored by the state of California. It became a National Historic Landmark in 1988 and is now part of San Francisco's fleet of historic vessels at Hyde Street Pier.
And just because the schooner doesn't carry cargo anymore doesn't mean it's out of commission - it still takes tourists around the bay from June through mid-November (this year's schedule will be published in May), and sails in the Masters Mariners Regatta each May.