The SS Palo Alto (“The Cement Boat”) is the most famous concrete ship on the west coast. The Palo Alto was built as an oil tanker by the San Francisco Shipbuilding Company in Oakland, California and launched May 29, 1919.
She was mothballed in Oakland until 1929, when she was bought by the Seacliff Amusement Corporation and towed to Seacliff State Beach in Aptos, California. A pier was built leading to the ship in 1930, and she was sunk in a few feet in the water so that her keel rested on the bottom. There she was refitted as an amusement ship, with amenities including a dance floor, a swimming pool, and a café.
The company went bankrupt two years later during the Great Depression, and the ship cracked at the midsection during a winter storm. The State of California purchased the ship, and she was stripped of her fittings and left as a fishing pier. Following an attempt at restoration in the 1980s, she reopened for fishing for a few years, then closed again. The fishing pier opened to foot traffic once again in the summer of 2016 but later closed for repairs.
Nicknamed the “Cement Ship” Palo Alto today remains at Seacliff Beach and serves as an artificial reef for marine life. Pelicans and other seabirds perch on the wreck, sea perch and other fish feed on algae that grows in the shelter of the wreck, and sea lions and other marine mammals visit the wreck to feed on the fish.
This past winter with over 2 months of solid rain and very rough seas the cement ship has broken apart. It’s a sad sight. We have been coming to SeaCliff SB for over 20 years. We always enjoyed our walks out on the pier to look at the “Old Cement Ship”. The state has no plans to remove the old boat. They plan to let is just sink naturally.
Check out this amazing Drone Video