Saturday, June 4, 2011

The U.S.S. Potomac (AG-25)

The Potomac was Franklin D. Roosevelt's presidential yacht, and is currently maintained as a national historic landmark in Jack London Square, in Oakland. It's one of only three presidential yachts that are still in existence. It began life as the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Electra, and was converted into a yacht for presidential use in 1936. Roosevelt used the yacht extensively during World War II for informal political meetings.

I would have believed that presidential yachts, like most presidential items, would become instant museum pieces after the death of the related president. However, following President Roosevelt's death in 1945 the Potomac was returned to the Coast Guard's possession and was put into use by the Maryland Tidewater Fisheries Commission. Purchased by a private owner, Warren G. Toone, in 1960, the Potomac was used as a personal ferry boat between Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. In 1964 the yacht was purchased by none other than Elvis. Elvis attempted to donate the yacht to various charitable organizations for fundraising purposes, eventually giving it to St. Jude Children's Hospital who sold it for $75,000. By 1980 the ship was being used for drug smuggling and was seized by the U.S. Customs Service. After the ship was seized by the U.S. government it was towed to Treasure Island, where it sank. She was re-floated by the U.S. Navy within a matter of weeks and sold to the Port of Oakland, after which she underwent an extensive restoration. The ship is open for daily tours.

Getting There By Bike...
The U.S.S. Potomac is located at the far northern end of Jack London Square. Keep the water to your left and follow the boardwalk up the shore and you can't miss it. While you're in the neighborhood check out the U.S. Coast Guard lightship "Relief", docked right next door to the Potomac. Jack London's Cabin is also in the area, down at the southern tip of Jack London Square, by Heinhold's First andLast Chance Saloon.

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