A San Francisco pioneer

Many Swedes worked their way over the oceans as sailors and deserted their ships in the port of San Francisco.  

  • William Matson did not come to California for gold but for the opportunities he felt the new land offered. He was born in Lysekil and went to sea in 1859 when he was ten years old. At 21 he rounded Cape Horn and reached San Francisco, two years before the continental railroad was completed. In 1870 the city had 25,000 inhabitants and started to take form.
    Matson made San Francisco his home and soon trafficked a schooner between San Francisco and the ports of Puget Sound in the state of Washington. In 1882 he commanded a three masted ship to the Hawaiian Islands carrying general merchandize and returning with pineapples, coffee, raw sugar and a discovery that would be successful - tourism!
    His traffic to Honolulu grew and more ships were added to Captain Matson's fleet. He pioneered new on board equipment, such as electric light and the usage of oil rather than coal burners.
    When the railroads refused to deliver oil, Matson built the first California pipeline from his own oil wells in Santa Maria to the coast. After he built the pipeline between Coalinga and Monterey, fuel oil could for the first time be delivered to the ports of the North Pacific and Alaska. William Matson died a millionaire in 1917.
    by Katarina Lindell