Monday, September 12, 2011

Ship of Gold

Captained by Commander William Lewis Herndon, she sailed from Colon, Panama on September 3, 1857 headed for New York. The SS Cental America, forever after known as the Ship of Gold , carried 578 passengers and crew and fifteen tons of gold being transported from the California mints to the country's seat of commerce.*

On September 9 off the coast of Carolina, the ship was caught in a category two hurricane. Her sails were shredded, the seals on the paddle wheels failed, the vessel took on water, the boiler fires went out. On September 12 in spite of all efforts to save her, the backside of the storm hit and the Central America sank. 153 people had made it to safety in lifeboats, but all the rest were lost.

In 1987, a search team found the vessel and recovered the gold which at that time was estimated to be worth upward of 150 million dollars. Naturally, the insurance companies that had paid off the loss a hundred years before sued for possesion of the treasure. A decade later, the issue was settled when the courts awarded approximately 92% of the gold to the finders.

*Numbers of persons and quantities of gold vary from one report to another. These seem to be the most reliable.



John Cowart said...

Hi Vanilla,

After we'd lived in the house for 15 years, one day I checked out our yard with a metal detector. First thing I found was a coin from Bahrain.

I've always wondered how that ended up in the Florida sand.


vanilla said...

John, I've seen people waving their metal detectors over the terrain, but I have never tried it. May you find treasure! btw, Early as I rise, I can't seem to get here before you do.

Pearl said...

I have a soft spot for stories of nautical adventures/disasters and found this very interesting!


vanilla said...

Pearl, there are some rip-roaring good sea tales. This one is tragic, but aren't many of them?