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The Azores

Until the 15th century, the Portuguese were limited to coastal navigation using small, fragile barques and barinels (ancient cargo vessels used in the Mediterranean) with but one mast. These craft lacked the capabilities to overcome the navigational difficulties associated with extended exploration across seas.

Library of Texas Historical Map Azores.
Vasco Da Gama. Portuguese Exploration.

Even with such early sea-going limitations, the Portuguese are associated with the earliest discoveries, such as the Madeira Islands, the Azores (a group of nine islands 800 miles off the coast of Portugal), the Canaries, and to the early exploration of the north west African coast as far south as Arguim in the current Mauritania.

Vasco Da Gama came from a reasonably humble beginning, born to a family of noblemen of an average standing. Though current history and the significance of events have allowed poets and artists to use broad strokes to paint him as an intrepid adventurer, this can only be a partial truth. Vasco Da Gama was a creation of the times albeit a smart and brave one, reaching Kerala and India in 1498.

July 12, 1861, California Farmer and Journal of Useful Sciences.

Cultivation of the Vine.

In all old Wine-growing countries of note it should be remembered, the best Wine is made from the grapes grown on the hillsides, where land has to be terraced to keep it from falling down. At the Azores and the Madeira Isles the high craggy hills that are almost impossible to ascend, are terraced and otherwise arranged so as to be planted with the vine wherever a space can be found wherein a vine could be planted.

So also in parts of France, and thus rocky and barren hills are transformed from waste places to be called the "Vine clad hills of France." So it will be in our State; ere long our rocky, craggy, and bushy hillsides will become like the Madeira Islands, the Azores, or even sunny France, as we have partly proved by the vineyards now nourishing on our red lands, of which we ha e spoken in this number.

October 25, 1873, Pacific Appeal, California

The Bottom of the Sea.

One of the discoveries made by the deep sea-soundings of the Challenger expedition, which arrived recently at Bermuda from the Azores, is a mountain ridge that extends from Greenland to the mouth of the Amazon, on the coast of South America, and includes the whole volcanic region of the Azores. This ridge is nowhere more than two miles below the ocean level. Toward the east it is divided between Europe and Africa by an immense valley from two and a half to three miles in depth. The valley reaches north of the equator as far as the fifty-second degree of latitude.

If this valley were not under the water it would present a view of whose magnificence no conception can be formed, for in the north, it extends to the gigantic mountains of Cape Verde and the Canary islands, the latter of which, with the peak of Tenerifle, would be 26,000 feet in height. Madeira would command, from a height of 20,000 feet, a view of this valley and another stretching toward the Mediteranean. On the western side of the ridge is a vast undulating plain, which extends at an average depth of two aud threequarter miles to the American coast. Bermuda, which rises now only 200 feet above the ocean level, is in fact, an isolatod column, 15,000 feet high, which would ovver-look an amphitheater of at least 500 miles in radius. Between the West Indies and America, and in the vicinity of the Azores, the water is of uniform depth and warmth. There was not much animal life found in the great depth. The blind crustacea appear to belong to the western hemisphere; in this part those animals require many eyes. A sea-garnel was caught, which, singular to relate, had four eyes, two of which wore in the front knee-joints.

A History of Portugal and the Portuguese Empire, Vol. 1: From Beginnings to 1807 PortugalHistory of Portugal and the Portuguese Empire.

A History of Portugal and the Portuguese Empire: From Beginnings to 1807A History of Portugal..
Volumes 1 and 2
A.R. Disney

History of Portugal and the Portuguese Empire.The Kingdom of Portugal was created as a by-product of the Christian Reconquest of Hispania. With no geographical raison d'être and no obvious political roots in its Roman, Germanic, or Islamic pasts, it for long remained a small, struggling realm on Europe's outer fringe. Then, in the early fifteenth century, this unlikely springboard for Western expansion suddenly began to accumulate an empire of its own, eventually extending more than halfway around the globe. The History of Portugal and the Portuguese Empire, drawing particularly on historical scholarship postdating the 1974 Portuguese Revolution, offers readers a comprehensive overview and reinterpretation of how all this happened - the first such account to appear in English for more than a generation. Volume I concerns the history of Portugal itself from pre-Roman times to the climactic French invasion of 1807, and Volume II traces the history of the Portuguese overseas empire.

1899. World's Fleet. Boston Daily Globe

Lloyds Register of Shipping gives the entire fleet of the world as 28,180 steamers and sailing vessels, with a total tonnage of 27,673,628, of which 39 perent are British.

Great Britain10,990 vessels, total tonnage of 10,792,714
United States 3,010 vessels, total tonnage of 2,405,887
Norway 2,528 vessels, tonnage of 1,604,230
Germany 1,676 vessels, with a tonnage of 2,453,334, in which are included her particularly large ships.
Sweden 1,408 vessels with a tonnage of 643, 527
Italy1,150 vessels
France 1,182 vessels

For Historical Comparison
Top 10 Maritime Nations Ranked by Value (2017)

  Country # of Vessels







1 Greece 4,453 206.47 $88.0
2 Japan 4,317 150.26 $79.8
3 China 4,938 159.71 $71.7
4 USA 2,399 55.92 $46.5
5 Singapore 2,662 64.03 $41.7
6 Norway 1,668 39.68 $41.1
7 Germany 2,923 81.17 $30.3
8 UK 883 28.78 $24.3
9 Denmark 1,040 36.17 $23.4
10 South Korea 1,484 49.88 $20.1
Total 26,767 87.21 $466.9

The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.



Merchant Shipping

Merchant Shipping.Merchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.  
History of Merchant Shipping and Ancient CommerceMerchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.
W. S. Lindsay

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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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