James Richmond's
California Story

Acapulco Bay

March 16, 1860 Today has been one of excessive heat. At noon the Captain was taking his reckoning and informed us we were within six miles of the equator. Consequently the sun was almost directly over us! And Hot! Oh How Hot! It really seemed we could almost touch the sun, it came so directly on us.

March 17, 1860 Made Acapulco Bay today. I think it must be the most beautiful bay in the world. I knew we must be nearing part and stood on deck watching, but I could see nothing that looked at all like a harbor or bay. We just seemed to be approaching a solid mountain of rock. I was standing near the Captain and said to him "Sir, when and where do we strike Acapulco?" "When we get behind that mountain of rock you will see Acapulco." "Yes sir! but do we scale that mountain to get behind it? There is surely no opening through." “Watch and you will see a hole in the mountain soon." This Captain answered all our questions pleasantly. He is a whole souled man. He is always ready to answer our questions with a pleasant word. Sure enough we did come to a channel but we could not see it until within a few yards of it. The channel was, I should say at least a quarter of a mile in length, and so narrow it really seemed we could almost touch the rocky wall on either side of us. Perpendicular rocks way up, up, up, and the beautiful bay beyond with it’s beautiful placid waters and that so clear you could see the bottom.

I would have liked so much to have visited the city itself, but could not. It was amazing to watch the natives dive for money. The passengers would throw over a piece of money no matter how small and how they would dive for it. And always bring it up. Their black naked bodies glistening in the sun like some huge black fish. It’s a strange thing but there are no sharks in these waters. (At the time this was written there were no sharks in Acapulco Bay, but a few years later when I went out the bay was just alive with them, and the natives didn’t play in the water.)

We here took on a load of beef cattle some sixty or eighty head of them. It might probably been called jerked beef. They have a way of loading them which is very unceremonious and amusing to the spectators if not to the animals. The natives drive them out into the water with shouts and sticks. They would get them just as near the vessel as possible. A one man would throw a lasso over the horns another would stand at the windlass and would wind them up. Almost before they could bellow they where flying up through the air a squirming mass of hair, horns and legs. And were soon loaded much to their amazement landed on deck. And tied before they recovered from their astonishment which in some cases caused no little commotion. I know one big mild fellow somehow slipped his rope fortunately for those standing around he made a dash for the side of the steamer and over he went legs and tail flying, his big wide spreading horns well up in the air. As he started down to the water When he struck out most hastily for land he was loudly cheered as he went right through the line of natives. No use to stop him with sticks or spears. He did not propose being jerked again and he was not. however the most of them were quite subdued when they landed and soon accustomed themselves to their new quarters.