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Q: diving the wreck site os the ss. Golden gate, ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: diving the wreck site os the ss. Golden gate,
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: yyz2112-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 19 Mar 2005 18:06 PST
Expires: 18 Apr 2005 19:06 PDT
Question ID: 497366
I need to know who and how much gold has been recovered in salvage
operations from the wreck of the "SS.Golden Gate" steamer ship near
Manzanillo, Mexico, in 1862.Here is all the info i have so far;
Subject: Re: diving the wreck site os the ss. Golden gate,
Answered By: omnivorous-ga on 19 Mar 2005 20:22 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Yyz2112 --

Since that web page is mine, I can answer this question with some
authority: certainly less than half of the gold was recovered in any
of the operations in the 1860s.

And it's complicated by several aspects of the history of the time:
*  gold and silver coin were still the dominant currency of the time,
so there's no way to know how much coinage was lost with the
passengers.  Multiple reports indicated that passengers jumped
overboard with their money belts, then abandoned them when they
started to sink.
*  many of those returning from California had been involved in the
Gold Rush, including my great great uncle and a friend of his, among
the 330+ passengers on board.  They'd likely have been carrying gold.

Reports still indicate that an occasional gold coin washes up on Playa
del Oro -- though it appears that the myth now self-perpetuates
itself.  There have been more recent efforts in the past 20 years to
seek out a large concentration of gold in the area, but it's been
frustrated by the fact that the currents are heavy in the area and
sand deposits heavy as well.

By the way, the sources of reports are pretty clearly indicated in
those Rootsweb pages, should you wish to pursue the matter further.

Best regards,


Request for Answer Clarification by yyz2112-ga on 19 Mar 2005 21:31 PST
Hi omnivvorous, how can i find out about the recovery operations of
the last 20 years you mentioned?And by whom? thx, yyz2112

Clarification of Answer by omnivorous-ga on 20 Mar 2005 01:29 PST
YYz2112 --

The information that I have regarding more recent explorations came
from Jorge Sosa, the owner of Neptune's Diving, in a personal e-mail
that was written about a year after I posted that original account in

The Playa del Oro is a mile or more north of Pena Blanca, a large rock
on the coast that's well known to divers.  The rock is mentioned in
survivors' accounts from 1862, as it represents the southern end of
the beach and is an obstacle to their continuing on foot towards

Jorge, who's been in Manzanillo for decades, mentioned that several
attempts to use modern metal detection equipment had been tried but
didn't yield much.  Depending on sand movement -- and the area has
very active currents -- the iron structure of the steamer might be
buried deeply or even have rusted away in 140+ years.  Of course, the
steamer was run virtually onto the beach in an effort to save the

One other item that's worth knowing: Sosa indicated that a professor
at the local university had written a thesis on the shipwreck
pre-1960, a research paper that he's been unable to locate.  I've also
made an attempt at finding it, to no avail.

The best resources that I've found have been newspapers of the time,
in which there are accounts of survivors and of salvage attempts. 
Little of that information is online, though you can see from the
Rootsweb pages that little pieces keep turning up.

The California State Library is a core resource, particularly since
some of the newspapers of the time are available.  You may wish to
obtain the San Francisco newspapers like the Daily Alta Times on
microfilm via inter-library loan.  There's quite a bit written that's
more "personal" and even speculative than you'd find in typical news
columns today, but I think that you'd find August-December, 1862
particularly rich.  And since salvage operations, some of which were
conducted with the support of the U.S. Navy, resulted in court battles
over ownership, you probably will find additional information in

Best regards,

yyz2112-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
answer was very friendly and informative

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