The SS Palo Alto, a concrete ship off the Monterey Bay Shore in Aptos, was left to decay. It eventually became a habitat for birds, sharks, and sea lions.
Launched in 1919 in Oakland, the SS Palo Alto, a former oil tanker, missed World War I by a few weeks. This war vessel is made of concrete because of the steel shortage at the end of the war.
In 1929 the Seacliff Amusement Corp. bought the ship and transformed it into an amusement park in its current location. Besides a casino, they added a swimming pool and a dance floor as attractions; ‘rum runners’ delivered illegal booze as a driveby operation. The Great Depression and the seasonality of the business probably were reasons for the fast closure two years later.
In 1936 the State of California purchased the vessel for $1. Twelve years later it was incorporated into one of the first State beaches. Its condition deemed too dangerous for explorers led to its closing in 1998. Now it is a sanctuary for birds and other sea life.
Parking at Seacliff Beach in Aptos, California is $10.
Have you seen the SS Palo Alto?
If you are looking for other bird watching opportunities in the Bay Area, check out Sunnyvale’s Baylands Park.