Who was the first US President to see the Pacific Ocean during his tenure?

Ulysses S. Grant spent time in San Francisco in his early military career which makes him the first US President to see the Pacific Ocean (he also was the first President to see the Great Wall of China, but that was after his presidency).

What I would like to know is whether Grant did also visit the West Coast of the United States during the time he served as President, and if not, who was the first President to do so?

Teddy Roosevelt visited the Panama Canal in 1906, while he was in office. I don’t recall exactly, but I think he saw the Pacific as part of his tour.

If not him, Warren Harding died while visiting the west coast, so he is the latest possible.

Woodrow Wilson had planned to visit the western states as part of his campaign in favor of the League of Nations, but cut the trip short and may not have gotten there.

Rutherford B. Hayes was the first President to visit California while in office.
He seems to be the likeliest answer.



Since the Pacific was visible from the hotel Teddy stayed in, I’m sure he saw it.

Grant not only saw it, he sailed on it, since he went to California via Panama.

:confused: Hayes isn’t listed on that page.

However, the fact is a true one. Hayes stayed at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco during his 1880 trip, the same hotel that had recently hosted ex-President Hayes and would in the future house both Wilson and Harding on their California trips.

The hotel is a few blocks from San Francisco Bay. If you include that as part of the Pacific, and I can’t see any reason not to, it’s hard to believe that he didn’t see the water at some point. If you want to nitpick and claim that only the western side of SF is the true Pacific, then I don’t know. The nitpick would be that the Bay is an estuary and estuaries are not always thought of as part of their oceans. The Hudson River is an estuary up to Albany and nobody claims that Albany is on the Atlantic.

just a guess, but he was the first president listed in the mexican-american war

In the unlikely event he didn’t view the Pacific itself at some point during his stay in San Francisco, he also visited Monterey during his California visit, and that’s right on the ocean. This newspaper article gives more detail on his itinerary. He also visited Seattle and traveled by boat on Puget Sound as far as its mouth at Port Townsend. On the way back he stopped in Astoria, Oregon, also virtually on the sea.

Since the answer to the OP’s question seems to be Hayes, I thought I would mention that Grant was the first man who was US president to have visited Siam, on his round-the-world trip (after his presidency). I believe the first sitting US president to visit Siam/Thailand was Nixon.

That would be wrong. The Mexican War campaign that Taylor participated in did not come anywhere near the Pacific.

He also returned from Astoria to San Francisco on the steamship Columbia, so he couldn’t really have avoided seeing the Pacific unless he hid in his cabin the entire time.

HJow did they cross the isthmus before the canal was dug? Stagecoach? Rail?

Standard way for 49ers to get to California was: ship to the isthmus, train across, ship to San Francisco.

There was a train across the isthmus of Panama many years before the canal was built. It’s still there today, in fact it’s still in heavy use.

The 49ers themselves crossed the isthmus partway by river, and the rest on mules, since the railroad had not yet been completed. The hardships of the crossing prompted the building of the Panama Railroad, the first transcontinental railroad in the world. Construction was started in 1850 and completed in 1855.

When Grant crossed the isthmus in 1852, the railroad had only been finished about half way across. He and his men completed the rest of the route by mule.

The present Panama Canal Railway is mostly for freight, with only a couple of passenger runs a day. When I first came to Panama in 1977, the railroad had much more extensive passenger service and I used it several times a week.