In 1908 there were no Blue Angels to rattle windows during Fleet Week, but Teddy Roosevelt’s “Great White Fleet” was on hand to rattle sabers, in advance of its round-the-world trip to showcase America’s military might. The sixteen Navy battleships, manned with 14,000 sailors, sailed into San Francisco Bay on May 6, 1908.
Santa Rosa all but shut down for the celebration, according to the Press Democrat, as 3,500 people – roughly one-third of the population – bought a special $1.70 round-trip train ticket for the festivities. A photograph of the ships steaming through the Golden Gate (sans bridge, of course) can be seen here.
SANTA ROSA SEES FLEET COME INImmense Crowd of People Go From Here to Different Places About the Bay
There was a general suspension of business Wednesday in Santa Rosa, when nearly 3,500 people visited San Francisco, Sausalito, Fort Baker and Lime Point to watch the arrival of the Atlantic battleship fleet in San Francisco bay.
Thee were over 1,200 tickets sold here Tuesday and about 1,000 people went to the bay counties that day, while Wednesday over 2,000 more tickets were sold and as many persons went to the bay district. Most of those from the coast counties viewed the arrival from the Marin County shore.
Fort Baker and Lime Point were the objective points of most of the crowd from Santa Rosa. A magnificent view of the ocean and movement of the fleet as t approached the Golden Gate, and thence through the bay almost to anchorage was afforded from the Marin shore. A sharp damp fog closed down just after the fleet passed for a short time, but otherwise the day was very pleasant.
As far as known not an accident marred the day on this side of the bay, although it is estimated that fully 200,000 people were lined up throughout the government reservation. The Northwestern Pacific handled the great volume of traffic in a most satisfactory manner. There were none of those usual delays where great crowds are handled. General Superintendent William J. Hunter gave the excursion train handling his personal attention.– Press Democrat, May 8, 1908