When ‘Codfish Fever’ Swept San Francisco 

Hungry Gold Miners Craved the Salted Fish, and so a Ragtag Fleet Set Off for Alaska

An affliction jocularly known as “codfish fever” swept San Francisco in the late 1800s. Caught up in the craze, a number of enterprising young men set to sea in whatever sort of vessels they could manage and headed to Alaska. They were going to catch codfish to salt and sell. Later, the industry journal Pacific Fisherman characterized the phenomenon as one of “dauntless enterprise and arduous endeavor, marked by many periods of discouragement.”

Codfish fever got its start in the years following the discovery of gold in central California in 1848, …