OC Answer Man: What was the first boat built in Newport Beach?

Edward J. Abbott—an ill-fated entrepreneur whose series of small-time business ventures never quite flourished—built a small steamboat, The Last Chance, for sightseeing excursions in 1892. Abbott used the boat to haul tourists around Newport Bay for a couple years before it was declared unseaworthy. Oddly, its longest journey would be over land. In 1894, he moved The Last Chance inland, on unpaved roads, using a team of eight horses. It went right up Santa Ana’s Main Street and was loaded on a train. From there, it traveled through Santa Ana Canyon and through San Bernardino and Riverside counties before being off-loaded at Elsinore Junction and dragged, probably by mules, to Lake Elsinore. Historian Jim Sleeper speculated that Abbott, who died shortly thereafter, might have succumbed to injuries incurred during the move. The rickety boat survived a bit longer, ferrying tourists around the lake.

Chris Jepsen is the O.C. Answer Man. Have a question? Send it to cjepsen@socal.rr.com.

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