Feb 24, 2007, 09:03 AM
MINELAB XS-2 Pro ....... XTERRA 305 ....... EXPLORER SE PRO
Spanish Galleon in the Desert
Somewhere in the rugged desert wasteland of Imperial County in Southern California lies the long-dead skeleton of an old Spanish galleon, its sun-bleached timbers jealously guarding its million dollar fortune in fabulous pearls.
Feb 24, 2007 09:03 AM
Mar 22, 2007, 12:00 AM
Re: Spanish Galleon in the Desert
if you will look in this forum under Treasure Legends /Pearl ship
you will find more material and if you have any questions I and a couple of others can fill you in on some of the stories told about the ship in the desert.
Mar 23, 2007, 10:53 AM
Re: Spanish Galleon in the Desert
I believe all this is just fancied legend. My grandparents were settlers to that area in the 1920s (Brawley, El Centro, etc....). It was known that that was myth, but a cool story to tell the grandkids to keep them spell-bound
Metal detecting is my one worldy vice!
Mar 23, 2007, 11:00 AM
MINELAB XS-2 Pro ....... XTERRA 305 ....... EXPLORER SE PRO
Re: Spanish Galleon in the Desert
Originally Posted by Isayhello2u
I merged them together.
It makes it easier.
Mar 24, 2007, 12:04 AM
Re: The Pearl Ship
Tom although a lot of fiction has been written & told about the ships in the desert
starting on or before the early 1870's one of the odd things about the "true" stories told in each generation is that in the non viking ship reports of sightings there is less and less of the wood found.
1920's hmm your family were late arrivals
Mar 24, 2007, 05:47 AM
Mar 24, 2007, 07:58 PM
Re: The Pearl Ship
Hi there "Isayhello". No, 1920s is not late arrivals for that part of the desert. Aside from travelor stop spots, there wasn't much of anything before the 1910's down there. All those towns got their start just after the turn of the century, at the earliest. The reason is, it gets to friggin 120* at times, esp. before the Salton Sea, and irrigation got going to cool things down a few degrees (Now it only tops out at 115*!). Can you imagine living there before air conditioners? Before there was electrical power, to power "swamp coolers", it was only a hardy few that lived down there, if any. Swamp coolers were later replaced by conventional air conditioner technology in later years. But anyhow, in the late 1920s, when my granfolks arrived, those towns were scarcely 25 yrs. old then. So no, they weren't late arrivers. And sorry to say, the lost ship story was just fancied tall tales.
I've read somewhere that the time-line for the inland sea story, that that was shallow sea up till 1600, is off. It had receeded long before that, in historic time. So I guess to beef up the story, story tellers add: In a storm, at high tide, that pushed waters way up to what is now the desert... blah blah.... (to promote the possibility that it was could've happened). We're talking 100+ miles here folks. If water got that high, as recently as 1600, you could merely do a study to see how much higher ocean levels would have to be (ie.: how high is the land, before dropping back down to below sea level @ Brawley/El Centro area). Now take whatever # of feet that is, and see how that would affect the rest of the world's sea fronts? I mean, certainly there are European coastal front communities who have historical reference points going back much older than that, that sea levels can be measured from (1600 is relatively recent, in terms of world history). And don't forget you have to add at least 10 more foot of depth (?), to account for the depth the ship would need to keep floating along.
And to show that old maps showed CA as an island, is not conclusive. Let's face it, mapmaking was poor in those days. They just merely mistook the Colorado River as going up and up and up. Or, they just saw the gulf of CA, and just assumed it kept going and going. Heck, spots on maps all over the world were innacurate in those days. They were full of conjecture and mistakes. It proves nothing.
Sure, maybe there was a lost pearl ship, but I doubt it's anything but at the bottom of the current gulf of Mexico, or Pacific somewhere, or who knows.
PS: My grandma is still alive down there at 96. Probably one of the last of the area inhabitants that can still recall life down there in the 1920s. She moved there as a 19 yr. old bride I've gotten coins back to barbers and IHs there in parks in those towns.
Metal detecting is my one worldy vice!
Mar 24, 2007, 10:15 PM
Re: The Pearl Ship
I was just needling a bit with the late comers comment The Indians and the mexicans were already living in the area when my american greatgrandad started homesteading palo verde valley in 1902, my grandfather (who lived to age 98) was only about five at the time. great grandmother dragged gma into the imperial valley around about 1911 after the grandfolks got hitched in the 1920s they lived in various cities of riverside county and san bernadino as well. They knew many of the desert characters Juanita Razon, Old Dad the russian hermit, John Hilton, General Patton etc. what does this have to do with the boat nothing.
(as a side note get out a tape recorder and just let your grandma tell you about the early days the local historical societys are looking for that kind of personal history)
If you ask me If there Is a boat somewhere in the desert between el centro and the gulf of california. The answer is yes. The remains of the american steamboat the explorer are out there. Is there another boat out there where a Fresh Water Lake used to be. I don't know. Is the wood people keep reporting Iturbe's shallow drafted caravel or the remains of a collapsed hacienda or the entrance to the frenchman's mine or pure fiction. I dont know. I do believe that When the fresh water lake cahuilla was in existance, and certain riverflow, tidal bore and weather conditions were met It could have been possible to get a small boat roughly the size of Lt. Hardy's sloop the Bruja through the rock channel.
The boat is Fiction maybe, but not impossible fiction.
Mar 25, 2007, 05:27 AM
MINELAB XS-2 Pro ....... XTERRA 305 ....... EXPLORER SE PRO
Re: The Pearl Ship
This ship wouldn't be as old as what I'm going to ask here.
& I'm just putting this out as a "What If" because I don't know.
But, first, I don't think anyone has pinpointed exactly
when Man first walked the earth.
I know at one point most of the earth was covered by water.
Sea Shells can be dug here in PA.
I don't know when the first Sea travel started.
or the first ever boat / ship sank.
Seemes to me there could be boats & ships just about anywhere
on earth. maby even in Fossil Form
Mar 29, 2007, 12:08 AM
Re: The Pearl Ship
Originally Posted by Isayhello2u
The Spanish Pearl Galleon is most definitely not fiction. The reason the story has persisted so long is because of the paper trail to back it up. After losing two galleons (one in a bad storm, and the second near Borrego Springs), he returned to Mexico with the third and last ship, and like any Captain who had lost two of three ships and many bushels of valuable pearls, there was a trial in Acapulco. The transcripts of that trial are at the Mexican Maritime Museum Archives in Acapulco, and copies are in Mexico City.
Apr 04, 2007, 09:13 PM
Re: The Pearl Ship
Hate to throw gas in the fire but when in collage at Weber State in Ogden Utah it was common knowledge that the great salt lake and bonneville saly flats were once conected to the Gulf of California.Thats at 4400 + elevation.The upheaval help create The Grand Canyon and partly answers why stata are missing there. OK now let my have it.
Truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it, but, in the end, there it is.
Apr 06, 2007, 09:15 AM
Re: The Pearl Ship
Here it is!
"It" and the Cal. Basin were both once connected to the ocean, Pacific and Sea of Cortez (Baja) !
Apr 06, 2007, 11:42 AM
Re: The Pearl Ship
rumor has it that many of the earlier records that were held at Fort San Diego in Acapulco were lost during the troubles of 1864. so that copies of Iturbe's records may not be there.
The originals in any case would have been sent to the Archives in Madrid.
I think Im going to post here some of the background material I've written on this
Moderators Please if you feel anything that I am about to post is too long and boring feel free to edit and delete.
Apr 06, 2007, 11:58 AM
Re: The Pearl Ship histories 1
Juan De Iturbe and some other sailors
(this is part of the background histories of the Ship in the Desert
Iturbe Sails with Pedro Fernando De Quiros
Of all the proposed captains of the lost ship of the desert Juan de
Iturbe tops the list.
Walter Nordhoff under the pen name of Juan Colorado wrote in his book
Journey of the flame the legend of how Juan lost his ship.
This is a background of Juan de Iturbe and the apocryphal
lost ship legend ascribed to him and other odd little bits of info I
came across while doing research on this subject.
Juan De Iturbe first sailed into the history of the pacific in 1605
as the fleet overseer and accountant for the explorer Pedro De
Fernandez de Quiros
Iturbe's job was much like a naval purser today. He did all the
purchases for outfitting the ships, he kept records of what items
were used up or discarded during the voyage. He oversaw the care and
management of any slaves, acted as paymaster for the sailors,
oversaw negotiations with natives. As Iturbe's job also included
acting as a Tax collector , selecting the King's portion of one fifth
of all treasure acquired, It is important to note Iturbe was
appointed by the Spanish authorities and not hired by De Quiros.
When De Quiros first sought permission from the king of Spain to take
some of the royal fleet and go searching the unknown pacific for the
fabled Continent of the South. The king refused as the Spanish fleet
was currently very busy in protecting Spain, its colonies and
treasure ships from Privateers, Pirates and the incursions of other
De Quiros asked the Cardinal of Spain to change the kings mind. The
Cardinal needing the kings monetary and military support to continue
conducting the infamous Spanish inquisition also refused De Quiros
then went to the one person who could order the Spanish to give him
some ships. De Quiros went to Pope Clement VIII in Rome. The Pope
gave De Quiros the mandate he asked for.
Upon receipt of the Papal mandate. Phillip the most catholic king of
Spain was forced to let De Quiros have what he wanted.
With three ships Quirós left Callao Peru on 21 December 1605 with 300
crew and soldiers.
two Priests appointed by the king's friend the Cardinal of Spain
and the king's appointed representative Juan De Iturbe
After six months sailing to various places in the pacific De Quiros
landed on what he thought was the fabled southern continent. he named it
Australias del Espiritu Santo
De Quiros named the land after King Philip III of Spain, a prince of
the House of Austria and the holy spirit he felt was guiding his own
glorious destiny. Here De Quiros held a great pious ceremony where he
inducted all the gentlemen of his fleet (including de Iturbe) into
his own newly created religious order of "Knights of the Holy
Six days after leaving Espiritu Sanctu De Quiros ordered all three
ships to go back , whereupon the other two ships returned to Espiritu
Sanctu. But De Quiros's own ship instead of turning back sailed
onward to Peru
Some accounts say De Quiros willfully abandoned the two ships, other
accounts say it was a mutiny. Iturbe's accounts and those of the
priests that sailed with the expedition were very critical of Poor De
Quiros. When the missing two ships returned to Peru they disclosed
that they had found that Espiritu Sanctu was not a continent, but
only a Large island. De Quiros's voyage was a failure. De Quiros
spent his last seven years writing of his voyage and trying to get
permission for another expedition. It was after one of his accounts
was published revealing to the other european nations some of the
discoveries that the Spanish government had been keeping secret that
De Quiros was given a order for ships and assistance to take to
the Viceroy of Peru. Meanwhile a message was sent directly to the
Viceroy with somewhat different orders on what to do with De Quiros.
It is rumored that a third party also received orders about the De
Quiros matter as De Quiros died mysteriously while crossing Panama en
route to Peru in 1615.
Iturbe's accounts of De Quiros's failure must have really pleased
someone important for while De Quiros was broke and begging for
another expedition Iturbe's next job was a promotion as overseer
and Accountant for what became the 1610 Panama Treasure Fleet
It was in memory of De Quiros failed expedition that Juan De Iturbe
later named a very small Island he discovered near California
Espiritu Sanctu. which is proof that Iturbe had a sarcastic sense of Humor.
In the year 1610 Rumors persisted that the Dutch were exploring the Eastern end of the Northwest Passage. If the Dutch had control of the eastern entrance then the Spanish needed to control the western exit. Since only smaller Indian villages were found northwest of the Aztec Empire, Spanish Adventures were unwilling to continue the Northern exploration. Most land based conquistadors turned toward the Mayan Jungles in their search for "El Dorado" the lost city of gold. Great sea voyagers like Fernando DE Quiros were eager to search the south seas for the rumored new continent of "Terra Austrias". Without a reliable method of determining longitude at sea it was far easier and certainly more profitable to sail toward the south seas or east toward the Philippines and Asia than to struggle north from Acapulco against both the prevailing wind and the strong south flowing current until the death toll from scurvy and other endemic problems forced a return to the Spanish outpost. The Spanish also wanted more ports along the return route of the "Manila Galleon" the yearly ship that carried the China treasures to the Americas. Unfortunately with all their wealth the Spanish were going into bankruptcy. They were overextended protecting Spain, its colonies on the new American continents, important island groupings in the Caribbean and the Philippines as well as treasure galleons full of a mixture of far eastern and new world wealth. Spain was besieged by pirates , privateers, rebellious natives, the incursions of competing European nations and internal interracial and religious conflicts. There was little that was available to be sent to the remote northwestern coastal areas. Its my belief the only resources the Spanish crown could easily spare were missionaries. The Spanish inquisition was at its height and the religious from all over Europe were flocking to Spain to participate. A much smaller problem that troubled the Spanish in the 1600's was that the easily accessible oyster beds of the New Worlds eastern coasts were nearly stripped bare by pearl hunters. Pearls were the most popular and fashionable gem of the 1600's and this shortage helped send their values sky rocketing. There is a saying that if you have one problem it remains a problem but if you have many problems they can sometimes solve each other. The Pearl shortage provided the Spanish crown with a partial solution to the other problems on their northwest frontier. in 1610 A.D. Tomas Cardona, the head of a wealthy merchant cartel worked out a deal with the Spanish crown. In exchange for exclusive pearl fishing rights in the Americas the cartel's ships would run errands between various ports for the Spanish government, provide assistance to the treasure fleets, help guard Spanish possessions against pirates and continue the exploration and mapping of the coastal shores of the new world including the seemingly barren areas north of Acapulco. For the Spanish government it was a win win situation. It meant some of Spain's resources were freed up to be used for more important matters. Instead of being fully paid servants of the crown, the merchant owned pearl ships paid the king's taxes on any income. The pearl ships were also better at mapping coastal waters than the Spanish navy. This was by virtue of the fact that the pearler's spent more time in any given area, Unlike the typical deep ocean vessel, the pearler's smaller vessels were built to sail into shallower coastal waters and the pearler's maps marked the deadly underwater rocks, dangerous reefs and other great pearling locations. For the Cardona Cartel it was a win win situation The price of pearls was skyrocketing and The cartel virtually now owned the pearl industry in the Americas. The Cartel also had a new invention that allowed their divers to go after pearls in deeper waters. (This top secret device was a prototype of the diving bell Juan De Iturbe was using in the California gulf in 1632A.D.. The 1632 model of diving bell was said to be made of wood and lead and that two people could go down about 300 feet and remain under the water for about ten days). Under the guise of providing assistance, the Cardona ships would be the first to greet the Manila treasure galleon on its return voyage from China. This gave the Cardona Cartel a major advantage over the other merchants waiting in Acapulco to bid on the galleons cargo. and last but not least the cartel now had exclusive rights to California's oysters. The gulf of California was at that time an untouched, pristine fishing ground and it's oysters were the only known source of the rare and valuable black pearls until the (hundred years later) discovery of Tahiti. Military commander Captain Franciso Bassillo and Tomas De Cardona's nephew Nicholas de Cardona were sent with six ships to set up the pearling operations. The plan was that after inspecting the Cartel's new holdings and setting up operations, Bassillo would take charge of the west coast and Nicolas would be responsible for the Cartel's east coast operation. On the east coast Nicholas could also oversee all the trade goods the Cardona Cartel would be importing to Spain. These imports would have included many items like Chinese porcelain, Japanese silks, Peruvian Silver and of course Pearls. Once in the Americas Bassillo took three of the ships, and toured the Caribbean pearl beds. During this time Bassillo bought negro slaves from the Carib Indians and tested the cartel's diving device on the over fished pearl beds of the Marquesa Islands. Meanwhile Nicholas filled the other three ships with trade goods and sent them off to Spain. After this Nicholas and Bassillo began the arduous overland journey to Acapulco. Poor Bassillo died en route. This left Nicholas in a quandary. To replace Bassillo, Nicholas needed someone with experience to purchase trade goods from the Manila galleon. Someone with experience in exploration. Someone with experience in managing slaves. Someone the Spanish government would trust in a position of authority. Someone like the former overseer of the 1610 panama treasure fleet. Senor Juan de Iturbe. Nicholas hired Iturbe and paid the Spanish government's fee to give Iturbe The military rank of Captain. The Government however insisted on someone who could actually handle the military aspects of protecting Acapulco's coasts from pirates. So Sargent Pedro Alvarez de Rosaless was appointed as the third co-Leader of the planned excursion along the western coast. Taking command of the initial Survey trip into the gulf Nicholas ordered a small frigate (the San Francisco) and two smaller caravels (the San Diego & the San Augustine) to be built at Acapulco. They cost Nicholas more than similar vessels built elsewhere as Acapulco had no ship building/repair facilities prior to his arrival. The advantage to the cartel was there would be time for a maiden pearl fishing voyage up the gulf before the Manila galleon's arrival in Acapulco. The personal advantage to Nicholas in building his own ships was that they would not be half waterlogged with wood rot and ship worm when he took possession of them. All three of this little fleet were shallow hulled coastal vessels designed to travel through the dangerous galleon ripping rocky shoals that oysters loved. The two caravels being described as much smaller than the frigate are thought to have been single masted open boats similar in construction to Sebastian Viscano's Tres Reyes. This Viking like design is important as one of these simple fishing caravels is the Spanish candidate for the lost ship of the desert. In 1615 Nicholas gave himself command of the San Francisco leaving Iturbe and Alvarez to command the smaller ships. Leaving Acapulco, the little fleet sailed up the east side of the gulf making stops at the outpost at Navidad and at the coastal indian villages where the Jesuits were trying to establish missions. At these stops the fleet refilled their water tubs and traded for fresh food and pearls, The ships also collected the better oyster shells (items inlayed with mother of pearl were popular in all the markets, in Europe as well as Asia). The Indian pearls and shells were mostly of poor quality having been burned in cooking fires. It was after landing at the farthest missionary outpost near the mayo river that the voyagers luck ran out. There are various stories as to what went wrong. Some accounts say the natives upset by Nicholas cheating them on some trade attacked. Other accounts say the on site missionary told of how the natives had skinned and eaten his partner and incited the Spanish to punish the murdering cannibals. What is known is there was a skirmish between the Indians and Spanish and that the Spanish were able to escape because Captain Juan de Iturbe used his two huge mastiff dogs to chase the attackers off. These dogs were normally used to guard the slaves. During the skirmish Nicholas was badly wounded. It was decided he should take all the pearls collected so far and return with the frigate to Acapulco. Meanwhile Iturbe and Alvarez were to try some pearl diving along the deeper waters of the peninsula's eastern coast and return to port a month or so later when the Manila galleon could be expected to arrive. Nearing Navidad The frigate San Francisco is caught and taken by the Famous Dutch Admiral (and infamous pirate) Joris Von Speilbergen. Speilbergen's Journal which was first published in 1619 says that when he encountered the frigate it was trapped near shore by the lack of a good breeze. Unable to sail any of his own ships closer he launched several boats filled with good men toward the frigate. He said the Spanish Captain abandoned ship before their arrival and he acquired the Frigate with out a shot being fired. Nicholas claimed he escaped the pirates vicious attack with only his life and none of his treasure. Speilbergen immediately renamed his prize, the Pearl. Yet Speilbergen wrote that there was nothing of value aboard the ship except a four month supply of wine that the prize crew drank during the short voyage from Acapulco to the Ladrone Islands. The real treasure of the ship for Speilbergen were the two Jesuit priests and the navigator Nicholas left behind when he fled his ship. Since Joris carried these three off to the Philippines rather than setting them ashore like he had done with other prisoners it is to be assumed that he gained much information about the gulf waters and other matters from them. It was after his return to the Netherlands that the Dutch began printing maps showing California as an Island. The real treasure of Speilbergen's Journal for us is the drawing he made of the tiny Pearl ship anchored beside his large galleons in the Philippine islands. It gives us an better idea of what Cardona's remaining smaller caravels might have looked like. A few weeks after the theft of the San Francisco Alvarez and Iturbe return to Acapulco with about 16 oz of pearls. One of these black pearls was a worth a kings ransom but was not enough to make up for the cost of the Pirates raid. Nicholas de Cardona pleading illness caused by his wounds retreated to the east coast. Within a few years Nicolas was hired to do salvage work on the newly sunken treasure galleon the Atocha. In the archives of Spain are the records and drawings Nicholas made of his initial voyage along the coasts of the new world. He writes of how at the head of the California gulf there is a river that leads to a large lake in Florida. Florida is what Nicholas called the mainland coast of the gulf to distinguish it from the pacific (west) and desert (east) coasts of the California peninsula. Nicholas's Florida lake would have been the last occurrence of the now vanished ancient lake Cahuilla Alvarez was sent with his caravel south to the Spanish authorities, to make reports on events in the gulf. It was left up to him to explain how and why Speilbergen was allowed to sail off with a new frigate for free. Then Alvarez disappears from history. In 1616 Acapulco had acquired a fort to protect its harbor against pirates. In 1616 a majority of the Europeans living along the west coast of what is now Mexico died in a massive Indian uprising. It didn't do the natives much good. The Spanish just sent more money hungry conquistadors and soul thirsty missionaries. In 1616 Iturbe escaped the massacre because he was out pearl fishing. He didn't however escape the Pirates. They captured his caravel north of Tehuntapec as easily as they had taken Cardona's frigate the year before. If they had tried to sail it up the gulf this lost caravel may very well be the legendary ship in the desert. Captain Juan de Iturbe fished for black pearls for the rest of his life. The last official record had him and Francisco de Ortega using a new diving bell near tiny Espirtu Sanctu island in 1632. In 1620 there was an apocryphal report that a Spanish ship near the head of the California gulf was carried by an unusual high flood of water through the shallow gates of Anian into the sea beyond. This report was largely ignored by the Spanish for at the same time Explorer Juan de Fuca was announcing his major discovery of the western entrance to the northwest passage (it wasn't really but thats another story). Meanwhile as the only Spanish ships in the California gulf in 1620 were Iturbe's fishing vessels If this report was true then The captain of the lost ship was Capitan Juan de Iturbe.
Apr 06, 2007, 12:19 PM
The Pearl Ship histories weather conditions
the background of the water in the desert
The weather roundabout the Ancient lake Cahuilla and the Colorado river.
I started looking at what role weather played in the formation of the
ancient lake cahuilla lake, its sister lake Maquata and in their disappearance.
The first thing to look at of course is the recorded data showing the
average weather in the area.
When forecasters talk about the average weather of this area they are
using less than one hundred years of recorded data.
The first consistent reporting of the weather was by the local
These newspapers started sometime after 1900, When the american
settlers began farming in the area.
In a conversations meteorologists I also found that accurate reporting
of temperature and rainfall amounts
didn't really occur until the 1980's when the national weather service
set up official monitoring stations throughout
the region. In my opinion there is not really enough data to say what
the real average is.
But the usual or current weather pattern in the area is this.
Its cold and it sometimes rains a day or so in winter, is often windy
in spring and fall, very hot with occasional thunderstorms in Summer
and it rains only a few inches in any year.
A major stumbling block in determining what the weather was before
records were kept is that weather is an inconsistent thing.
A temporary change like an el nino rainfall year or a natural event
like an erupting volcano alters the area's weather pattern.
Because weather changes and natural events occurred during the times
the lake existed
they have to be considered as part of the weather patterns that
created or destroyed the lake.
A volcanic event could cool the atmosphere which would slow the
evaporation of the ancient lake
or it could change the rain/ snowfall patterns causing a drought or a
drop in the waters flowing into the lake.
(volcanic pumice stone is found all around the ancient lake bed. The
Last eruption of Amboy
a small volcano to the north of the lake is thought to have been about
500 yrs ago.)
for looking at the weather in the unrecorded past. There are only two
good methods at this time.
1) sampling deep glacier Ice. (oops sorry no glacier ice in the area).
2) looking at tree rings.
(no tree ring studies that im aware of in the area, besides a lack of
trees growing in the desert
I'm not sure if local trees live more than 70 yrs, I also think lake
era trees, stumps or dead trees may not exist
because the desert termites & insects are very efficient)
In one of those happy little internet finds I stumbled across some
government paleoclimatic work on weather patterns
of the pacific basin in the 1600's. What they did was get data from
the spanish archives on the successful Spanish voyages
between acapulco and the phillipines.
(successful means the ship arrived in port, & records of the voyage
were sent to spain)
Taking into account each ships estimated route, size, design and the
effect its cargo may have had on its speed
they were able to estimate the weather pattern changes in pacific
basin between 1590 A.D. and 1750 A.D.
among other results were that the average trip of 79 days lengthened
to about 125 days in the Mid 1600's
then by the 1700's the trip returned to the previous average of 79
days. The changes in the Mid 1600s
suggested that the storm season started earlier, and storms traveled
farther north than in other decades.
The also suggest that the weather stormfront changes were more violent
than the weather pattern we know today as the "El Nino"
I wonder if in 1620, if one such pacific storm raised the tide in
californias gulf high enough
to push a ship into the ancient lake bed.
The one weather event in the lakes history Im sure had an effect was a
world wide weather event known as the little ice age.
The last lake cahuilla disappeared during this event. The little ice
age started about 1490 and ended around 1890.
The little ice age did cause a severe drought in the american south
Fish bones and other refuse at indian sites may date the lakes final
disappearance as being in the late 1600's.
(between the arrival dates of the spanish explorers & the american
It is interesting to note that at the very end of the ice age, the
Southern Pacific railroad started to note
Occasional, unusual flooding in the areas where the ancient lake used
The Colorado is a damned river. So much of the water is dammed and
syphoned off that little or none reaches the ocean. The little muddy
dribble that does get that far is condemned as some of
the most polluted water in the world. The river is so constricted that
it no longer has the ruddy red hue that gave the river its name, its
infamously dangerous tidal bore or its reputation of
making frequent course changes by damming itself. The dams blocked
the saturation of mud and debris that gave the red hue to the river
and the rivers full force of flow. The dams also blocked
the tidal bore that came up river from the Gulf of California.
The following chapter is mostly written describing how the river was
or would be if the human
created dams did not exist
The river begins life in the American north west under the name
Green river. (An act of congress
gave the upper river's name to Green and gave the Colorado name to a
lesser tributary that flows
out from the state of Colorado). Fed by glacier and snow melt the
upper river is as cold, clear and
fresh as the Green name implies. Joined by its tributary and
re-baptized, the great Colorado
leaves the high country and begins carving its way down into the Grand
Canyon. Scouring itself
against the sun warmed rock walls, fattened by muddy floods pouring in
from narrower side
canyons as it swiftly drops in elevation, the river becomes over
saturated with the debris, mineral
rich silt and rolling red mud. This is how the river acquired the
ruddy red hue that caused the
Spanish Conquistadors to name it Colorado, the red river. Exiting
from the canyon lands the
Colorado weds with the Gila river and then immediately begins
spreading out across a large sandy
delta area. The highest point of the delta is near Yuma at about 160
feet above sea level. The land
falls fanning out in every direction from this area with a nearly flat
slope of about five feet per
When it reached its delta the Colorado was sometimes so saturated with
silt and debris that it was
described as "Too thick to drink and too thin to plow" Over
saturation caused by the Colorado's
travels through the canyons is the first part of the mechanism that
helped the river to damn itself
and change its course. Saturation is a term used to describe how much
mineral etc that can be
mixed into the water before it reaches the point where no more can be
absorbed, dissolved, or
retained. Warm, fast moving, water has a higher saturation level than
cooler stationary water.
(This is one reason ice floats having a lower saturation level it
carries less minerals and is lighter
than the water around it).
The second mechanism is the nozzle like effect The narrowing of the
canyons and the steep drop
of water from the high plateaus to the ocean has on the Colorado. The
canyons constrictions like
a nozzle on a hose give the river speed and force enough to push heavy
objects down its path.
Freed of the canyons the Colorado slowed, its saturation level
dropped and its force weakened.
The third element in the rivers self damning equation is the Tidal
Bore. A Tidal bore is a
phenomenon in which the leading edge of the rising tide forms waves
of water that travel up river
against the direction of the current. The daily tidal bores that came
up from the upper gulf of
California were among the worlds highest, largest and most dangerous.
They were recorded as
traveling as far up river as the steamship port of Callville which is
now under Lake Meade. The
bore's different temperature, saturation level and its push against
the river current caused the river
to drop more of its load creating sandbars (aka instant dams). The
tides push also encouraged the river to spread out and flow into side
The last element that would encourage the river to change course is
the delta itself.
Within the delta is an area known as the Cerro Prieto Volcanic
region, one of the most geologically active places on earth and part
of the tectonic plate phenomena known as the Salton Trough.
Earthquakes are a frequent occurrence here. Land on either side of a
fault will shift positions during a quake, so its not hard to
visualize a river channel shifting position also
Quakes cause subidence in the center of the Salton trough but land
surrounding it may also be rising. In reading the description of early
explorations, Its certain that the gulf's ocean water was still
filling the northwestern delta's Laguna Salada area. In 1974 a group
of historians and explorers went looking for the now abandoned Port
Isabel a slough which was located on the southeastern edge of the
Delta, it once had hand dug channels deep enough to allow oceangoing
vessels to dock. When they found the ports remains they discovered the
entire landmass of the area had risen several inches blocking the
ports access to the sea.
So unconfined by canyon walls the Colorado river slows, dropping its
load, raising the level of its current channel damming itself until
the main river channel switches to another path. Pushed against the
wall of the incoming tidal bore this channel switching can occur very
swiftly . Some times the main channel was on the delta's east side,
sometimes on the west. Sometimes the channel flowed into a below sea
level depression known as lake Maquata or the Laguna Salada Basin. And
sometimes the main channel went into a larger basin known as the Salton basin or Ancient Lake Cahuilla. When the lake was full it was one of the
largest bodies of fresh water in the Americas. One small fact is near certain
that is when The Ancient lake Cahuilla was filled with water
the water would flow from it into the Laguna Salada Basin which may or may not have
been part of the ocean at the time.
After the weather event known as the little ice age it is very likely
the ancient lake would have come into being one more time. By the end
of the 1890s small flows of water were coming from the river into the
lake bed, but at that time the Americans were already having an effect
on the river channel maintaining a single channel. There are
descriptions from passengers of the early steamboats of how the
Steamboats would change direction and use their paddle wheels to dig
out recently formed sand bars and deepen the river channel. When the
River began to fill the lake in 1905 it was stopped after a hard fight
by the Americans though the river came close to winning.
Between 1905 and the building of the dams The Americans worked to keep
the river in place.
Several years ago I had the pleasure of many conversations of a man
who grew up along the untamed Colorado and His first real job was to
dynamite snags and other blockages so the river would stay in its main
channel. Then came the Laguna Dam and the River was damned forever
the point of all the above is this if both the salton and laguna basins were filled with water. could a ship make the passage between the two from the ocean.
Apr 21, 2007, 11:42 AM
Re: The Pearl Ship -1870 eyewitness report
this is more of the background histories of the lost ship of the desert
Apr 21, 2007, 11:55 AM
Re: The Pearl Ship
(more from the background histories of the lost ship)
IN THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW
Albert S. Evans.
The Galaxy. (New York) v.10, no.1. Jan. 1870
How reached Dos Palmas I hardly know, but somehow I was there by 2 P.m. I found there a man named Black. He was as white a man as I have ever seen, and though he weighed over two hundred, his heart was too big for his body. He nailed on the soles of my boots with Carpet-tacks, which had found their way there Heaven knows how, and gave me a pair of cotton socks to protect my bleeding feet. That afternoon and evening I stayed with him and began to feel rested and refreshed as night set in. At midnight I was off for Toros on the western Side of the desert, twenty-eight miles from Dos Palmas. By two o’clock I had reached the Summit of the divide between Dos Palmas and the Palma Seca and looked down into the plain.
The last man surveying the wreck of the world could not behold a scene of Utter desolation or be wrapped in silence more utterly terrible. The full moon flooded the whole landscape with her mellow light, but naught of life was seen; the ghastly pallor of death was over and upon everything. Southward to the very horizon stretched a great plain of snowy salt, the white ghost of a Dead Sea, which once covered all this accursed land, but has passed away forever. Across this white plain, as across the waters of a placid lake moon threw a track of shimmering light, so bright as almost to dazzle the eye of the beholder. Right in this burning pathway of light, far out in the of the ghostly sea, where foot of man hath never trod, lay what appeared in the dim distance the wreck of a gallant ship, which might have gone down centuries ago, when the bold Spanish adventurers, bearing the cross and sword in either hand, were pushing their way to the northwest in search of the fountain of youth, the famed Kingdom of Cibola, which lay on the eastward, in what is now called Arizona, where the ruins of its cities may still be been, or El Dorado, which lay just beyond to the northward, and which they found at last, but knew not that they had found it. To the southwest beyond the western shore of the white sea bed, the Coyetero Mountains broke the outline of the horizon. Farther northward, Mount San Jacinto lifted his rugged form in a black mass against the western sky. Northward still, the desert, in rolling waves of ashes and yellow sand, stretched like a stagnant, tideless sea, for a hundred miles away, and at the end, Mount San Gorgonio and Mount San Bernardino towered in awful grandeur, grim guardians of the pass way out of this lonely, mysterious land. The dark-hued, pinion-covered ranges, rising one above the other toward the summits of these mountains, contrasted strongly with the yellow plain beneath, and their crowns of white disintegrated granite, glittering like snow fields in the moon-lit air, seemed to be floating like clouds in the starry heavens, rather than resting upon and forming a part of the lower earth. In vain I looked and listened; sight or sound of life, save my own, there was none; the eternal silence of the desert rested like a pall on the whole scene. This stillness was something awful beyond the power of words to describe. The ticking watch in own pocket was so distinctly audible as to become an annoyance, absence of all other sounds save that of my own hushed breathing. “The world without form and void lay around me; and, though in it, I seemed not of it. “‘Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,’’ cried the Psalmist; lo, the Valley of the Shadow stretched out before my feet!
Apr 21, 2007, 07:42 PM
Re: The Pearl Ship -1871 discussion
lost ship histories
Apr 22, 2007, 03:25 AM
Re: The Pearl Ship a pre-1895 version
A ship in the desert.
as weird a tale as ever sprang from a traveller's imagination is
told of a ship that lies in the midst of the great Colorado Desert,
a waste of sand double the size of the state of Massachusetts. Some
years ago a daring explorer journeyed over a part of the desert,
several hundred feet below the level of the sea, which had never
been visited by man before. at last he came to a valley which
stretched out as smooth as a floor for miles and miles. The surface
was of an ashy white hue, and in the midst a vessel lay. The
appearence of the wreck-for such it seemed-was exceedingly ancient.
To a point not out of pistol range from the ship the traveller
approached without difficulty; but when he strove to come nearer,
the ground-which was but a crust covering a slimy liquid-broke
beneath his feet, so that he was compelled to abandon his efforts to
reach her, He got to the nearest settlement with difficulty, but his
wanderings en route had been so extensive that he could not do more
than guess at the location of the valley. to this day the mysterious
vessel has never been seen again, but it is surmised that it may be
a Spanish galleon, loaded with gold, which the old mexican
chronicles say sailed up the California Gulf, which at that time
extended as far as the Colorado Desert, and was lost in the ocean of
(lost ship histories)
Apr 24, 2007, 12:16 AM
Re: The Pearl Ship
Great posts. I haven't seen some of those articles before.
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