Undated historical photo of the SF State Tiburon campus


Fishermen know this area as California City, the "flight path" for salmon on their way from the Pacific to the Sacramento River. Mariners know this area by the hazards and ruins well marked on navigational charts. The scientific community simply knows this area as the Romberg Tiburon Campus or "RTC" - which is steeped in history.


Click here to see more historical photos of the Romberg Tiburon Campus.


1870's - 1900's

Union Fish Company

The origin of the Union Fish Company dates back to 1864 where Thomas McCollam traded thousands of tons of fish and set up a curing station to salt and dry the fish on Belvedere Island in the San Francisco Bay. In addition to cod fishing, the company’s vessels carried provisions to Alaska and often returned with both fish and furs. In the 1890’s, McCollam merged his company with another pioneer in the industry, Lynde and Hough. The Belvedere processing plant became known as Union City and the newly expanded operation referred to itself as "Union Fish Company."

Historical photo of the campus as a coaling station in the 1920's



Great White Fleet Coaling Station

The site where RTC now stands was purchased by the Navy in 1904 for $80,000 where it became the "Great White Fleets" coaling station, until 1941. The coaling station was converted to the California Nautical School in 1931. The school graduated its first class of cadets in 1933 as officers in the Merchant Marine and continued operations until 1940 when a new war in Europe returned the site to active service and forced it to move to Vallejo where it became the California Maritime Academy. The new installation was named the Tiburon Naval Net Depot and commissioned on August 1, 1940.


Historical photo of the campus as research station in the 1970's

1960's - 1970's

A Marine Laboratory

In the early 1960's, the site was transferred to the Department of the Interior, and became the Tiburon Marine Laboratory, which began research on migratory marine game species. The site became part of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration of the Department of Commerce in 1970. In 1977 SF State founded the Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies.