August 4th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1875, three men drowned at Anaheim Landing, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The men were returning to Anaheim Bay in a lighter around noon from the steamer Mohongo anchored beyond the breaking rough waves when their boat capsized. The men were John Westerling, an employee of the Anaheim Lighter Company, and, according to a later report in the Arizona Weekly Citizen, two sailors, Tom Lloyd and Jame Yarallorith. The Arizona Weekly Citizen also differed by reporting that the men were rowing out to meet the steamer.

The Orizabo, Sister Ship to the Mohongo

The Orizabo, Sister Ship to the Mohongo

The surf at Anaheim Landing could be treacherous and the bay was not deep enough for steamers to dock. Goods from an Anaheim Landing warehouse were rowed out in lighters to anchored steamers similar to the one shown above, and then cargo and mail would be rowed back to Anaheim Landing. Steamships from the Goodall, Nelson, Perkins Steamship Company provided shipping along the California coast until the railroads made the steamers obsolete for continental passengers and shipping.

2019 Addendum: Since I first posted this, I’ve come across a 1920 interview with James Ott looking back at his days working as an agent for the Anaheim Landing Company. He worked with the three men who drowned and speaks of the treacherous conditions of Anaheim Bay back during those days. You can read it here.

– Michael Dobkins

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