Yosemite was a beautiful steamboat, powerful and fast built in 1862 at the yard of John Gunder North (a Norwegian-born shipbuilder), in San Francisco.
Built almost entirely of wood she was a side-wheel steamer built entirely of wood with a single-cylinder “walking-beam” steam engine with a 57″ bore and a 122″ stroke. Her paddle wheels were 32 feet in diameter and fitted with 10 foot long buckets (the paddles). Yosemite had broad spacious decks and ample cabin, dining, and lounge space.
Her first service was by the California Steam Navigation Company (a consolidator of competing steamship companies) in 1863 to run with Chrysopolis on the Sacramento River. On October 12, 1865, as she was leaving the Rio Vista landing bound downriver, her boiler exploded, killing 55 people and scalding and injuring many more. This boiler had been touted to be a safer low-pressure model. Yosemite was rebuilt with new boilers and lengthened 30 feet to a total of 282 feet. In 1879, due to railroad completion, she was laid up until 1883.
It was then that John Irving Commodore of the Canadian Pacific Navigation Company purchased Yosemite and moved her to Vancouver. She proved to be a good investment for Commodore Irving and even set a speed record of four hours and 20 minutes for the 72-nautical-mile (133 km) run from Vancouver to Victoria, which stood until 1901. That year the Canadian Pacific Railway purchased all the steamship operations and vessels of the Canadian Pacific Navigation Company.
At nearly 40 years old she was placed in reserve and only taken out to cover heavy summer loads. Yosemite was sold to the Puget Sound Excursion Company in 1906 and under John B. Mitchell was rebuilt again to add more main deck and social hall and adding a large dancing pavilion.
During daylight hours, in Port Orchard Narrows, Yosemite with Capt. Mike Edwards in command turned suddenly at 14 miles per hour and struck ground that broke her back. The captain stated that he had expected different currents that were never produced.
There were no deaths or major injuries of the 1000 plus onboard at the time. There was talk of wrecking it on purpose for the insurance, but it was never proven as the strong tidal currents had wrecked and continue to wreck vessels in that same area.