Star of India

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Some entities who died on board have never taken shore leave.




The Star of India (originally known as The Euterpe), the oldest working sailing ship, is described as an 1863 era iron, ship-rigged, sailing ship, with a long life history being used in the merchant trade business, hauling cargo, transporting immigrants, etc. It has a plain bluff bow and a full stern with windows. The original ship, The Euterpe, was a full-rigged ship, which meant it was a square rigged sailing ship with three or more masts, all of them square rigged.

However, The Euterpe was modernized in 1901 and given a barque sailing system, as a result of having new owners. This system resulted in superior all-around performance with far smaller and less skilled crews. This mast and sail arrangement has 3 masts, fore and aft sails on the aftermost mast and square sails on all other masts.

The top inside level of the Star of India housed the captain and his top crew managers, the captain’s office, their eating area, etc.

The in-between level, between the top level and the bottom area of the hull housed the crew and passengers in rather close quarters.



The original ship, The Euterpe, named for a Greek goddess, was built in the shipyard at Ramsey in the Isle of Man, England in 1863. It was one of the first ships made of iron, as most ships of the day were made of wood. The company who built her immediately put her to work as a cargo ship in the Indian jute trade. The Euterpe had a rough first voyage, suffering both a ship fender bender collision and an attempted mutiny!

The second voyage was a hair raiser as well. The Euterpe was caught up in a nasty cyclone in the Bay of Bengal, but she managed to limp into port, after having to cut away her topmasts! The stress caught up with The Euterpe’s first captain who died on board soon afterward.

After 4 more successful, uneventful trips to India as a cargo ship, The Euterpe was sold in 1871 to the Shaw Savill Line of London. For the next 25 years, the ship brought emigrants, a tough, hardy lot, to New Zealand, Australia, California and Chile, making 21 trips, through all kinds of weather.

In 1894, The Euterpe was chartered by explorer Archibald Campion for his polar expedition, because of the ship’s iron hull, and because the ship had both crew quarters and cargo holds. Interestingly, Archibald brought along his own invention, an electric motor with a variety of interesting attachments, which allowed the crew to power the ship through the ice and also provided light and heat.

In 1898, The Euterpe was sold to an American company, The Alaska Packers. After being modernized with a barque sailing system mentioned above in 1902, The Euterpe began sailing from Oakland, Calif. to the Bering Sea during the Spring, with fishermen, cannery workers, box shook and tin plate on board. When they returned in the following Fall, they brought back canned salmon.

In 1906, The Alaska Packer renamed The Euterpe, calling her The Star of India.

By 1923, sailing ships were replaced with more reliable steam ships, so The Star of India was taken out of service and was “laid up”. Her future looked grim until a group of San Diegans, led by reporter Jerry MacMullen, raised $9,000 dollars to buy The Star of India and had her towed to San Diego in 1926. A grand restoration was planned for the ship, but then the depression came, followed by WW2.

So, for 30 years, The Star of India sat there, slowly deteriorating into a tattered image of its former self. Luckily, The Star of India’s fate was changed yet again, this time by an experienced, highly thought of windjammer skipper, Captain Alan Villers, who while on a speaking tour came to San Diego, in 1957.

Seeing the bedraggled state of The Star of India, the now incensed Captain Alan let all of San Diego know how upset he was that the people had neglected such a great ship for so long, making a lot of people very ashamed of themselves. A fund was established to collect money for its restoration. Skilled workmen who had experience from working on the waterfront volunteered and began to repair the aging hulk, making other much needed repairs.

Not only was The Star of India fully restored to its former glory, it was made seaworthy once again. In 1976, The Star Of India was once again sailing around for an enthusiastic audience! She goes sailing about once a year and has a trained crew of volunteers.



According to the San Diego Visitor’s Center, the Ship’s staff, its crew, Paranormal researchers such as Dr. Joe Nickell, and everyday visitors, some entities have never taken shore leave and continue to hang around the ship. One wonders, why?

One would expect deaths on a battle sailing ship, (such as The USS Constellation), but I was a little surprised to read that working on a merchant sailing ship unfortunately also wasn’t without risks, serious illness or accidents, which does make sense after thinking about it.

Sailors lose their footing and can fall. Accidents of all kinds can happen to people while at sea. A moment of not thinking can mean the difference of life or death. Unfortunately, people did die while working on board The Star of India.



The oldest known entity is believed to be a young man by the name of John Campbell.

It seems that in 1884, John Campbell, a teen-aged boy seeking adventure, stowed away on The Euterpe. He was eventually discovered and put to work to earn his keep. While tending to the masts, about 100 feet above the deck, his foot slipped and he fell to the deck below, breaking both legs. He died 3 days later in great pain.

Sometimes when the living stand near the mast where young John fell off, they feel a cold hand touch them, as to warn them not to climb the mast, or perhaps just to let them know of his presence

Death by Anchor Chain

A horrible accident happened in the anchor chain locker, a dark storage compartment located below the main deck, toward the bow of the ship.

A Chinese crewman was in this locker area going about his business when crewmen on the deck above began to start the machinery to raise the anchor. The chain filled the anchor chain storage locker, slowly crushing the Chinese crewman to death. No one heard his screams because of the noise of the machines and chains!

In the area around the chain locker a persistent cold spot is often noticed by the living.

Mishaps, Disease, and Neglect

Some crewmen throughout the years suffered horrible accidents, and some wasted away from fatal illnesses, spending their last hours alive in the cramped crew quarters where they died.

A sense of fear and anxiety as well as cold spots and a chilly room temperature are reported by the living and psychic-sensitive people, when they visit the crew’s quarters.


Yes indeed. The above list of manifestations have been reported by the living.

October 28th, 2001 – Dr. Joe Nickell of CSICOP — Well known Paranormal Investigator, Dr. Nickell took a tour of San Diego’s Star of India and visited known areas of manifestations on the ship, and found that entities were indeed haunting the ship.



1492 North Harbor Drive
San Diego, California 92101
(619) 234-9153

The Star of India sailing ship is docked at the Maritime Museum of San Diego.



  • “Square Rig” Wikipedia Page * “Barque” Wikipedia Page
  • “Star of India” page on * The Euterpe Star of India Index page on
  • Large Pictures © Tom Carr

Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr

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