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Photo of the Month
July 2015
See Previous Photos     Unknown Faces and Places

WHAT DO FAMED AUTHOR ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON and our cousin Leonidas Soland “Lon” McGirk Sr. have in common? The answer? – this schooner, the Casco, 95 feet in length and weighing 70 tons.

Popular Mechanics once said that the vessel, constructed in San Francisco, "was originally built for racing in California waters [and] has had an eventful career." 

Stevenson and his wife chartered the Casco in 1888 for a two-year Pacific Ocean sailing trip, including a memorable stop in the Hawaiian islands. During that experience, Stevenson finalized his works The Master of Ballantree and The Wrong Box. His journals from the trip were excerpted in his book In the South Seas. Later, the craft was used for hunting seals, running opium, hauling junk and training students. 

After the death of his wife Emma (Brown) McGirk, the widowed McGirk obtained the Casco's services to take a group of investors on an ill-fated ore-mining expedition to Northern Siberia. The weather-plagued trip was aborted, and the vessel ran aground and was dashed to pieces. This image – published in St. Nicholas magazine and courtesy of Google Books – shows the Casco in one of its other uses over the years, as a training vessel for Sea Scouts in San Francisco. More>>>

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