Search for Bees wax wreck comes up empty
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  1. #1
    Dec 2004
    Long Island New York
    White's XLT
    26 times

    Search for Bee's wax wreck comes up empty

    Sensors' clue leads to railroad debris, not galleon
    Nehalem Bay - Searchers eliminate one area that could have held wreckage from the long-lost "Beeswax Ship" Wednesday, September 26, 2007RICHARD L. HILL The Oregonian Staff
    MANZANITA -- The whereabouts of a 17th century Spanish galleon that wrecked on the northern Oregon coast about 300 years ago remains elusive.

    A team of about 20 researchers and divers spent last weekend at Nehalem Bay State Park looking for remains of the trading ship. The three-day search for the "Beeswax Ship" -- so called for its cargo of Philippines beeswax -- found no signs of the vessel, but project leaders say they plan to return next spring to continue their work.

    The researchers focused on sites at the bottom of Nehalem Bay. In May, sensors had detected irregularities in magnetic fields there during an initial phase of the project. The anomalies could pinpoint cannon or other objects from the ship.

    But divers found only wooden railroad ties and rails that apparently had been dumped into the bay long ago. Rough ocean conditions prevented them from exploring potential sites offshore.

    "We accomplished a lot in three days," said Scott Williams, a Washington state archaeologist who is leading the project in his spare time. "We can now eliminate some sites and move on to other places that show promise. We knew this was going to be challenging work."

    The wreck has been well-known for more than 150 years. Native Americans and 19th-century settlers made use of the shattered ship's teak timbers and abundant blocks of beeswax.

    The Spanish galleon probably was on its way to Acapulco, Mexico, after picking up its cargo of Chinese porcelain and beeswax in Manila, Philippines. A storm may have blown the ship off course, and it wrecked near the mouth of Nehalem Bay.

    Any survivors could have been the first Europeans to make contact with Native Americans in the Northwest.

    The ship's cargo of several tons of beeswax, prized for candles, was strewn throughout the area. Blocks of the beeswax, stamped with numbers and other designs, are on display with other artifacts at the Tillamook County Pioneer Museum in Tillamook

    Evidence, including records of missing galleons, has narrowed the vessel's possible identity to two ships: the Santo Christo de Burgos, which vanished in 1693, and the San Francisco Xavier, which disappeared in 1705.

    The search for the ship is supported by the Naga Research Group, a nonprofit archaeological organization based in Hawaii. (Information:

    Researchers hope to renew the hunt in May.

    "We're just beginning the search," said Jack Peters, a project staff member from Springfield. "The ship isn't going to give herself up easily."

    Richard L. Hill: 503-221-8238;


  2. #2
    Dec 2004
    Long Island New York
    White's XLT
    26 times

    Re: Search for Bee's wax wreck comes up empty

    Here's a link to a 34 minute video on this wreck. Also check out the vid "Secrets of the lost canyon" very cool!!


  3. #3
    Dec 2004
    Long Island New York
    White's XLT
    26 times

    Re: Search for Bee's wax wreck comes up empty

    By Paul Fattig
    Mail Tribune
    February 25, 2008
    GOLD BEACH It was the luminescent glow that caught Loretta LeGuee's attention.

    "The sun was shining through it it kind of looked like a huge egg," said the Gold Beach resident who has been combing the local beach each morning for years.

    The oval-shaped amber object resting on the storm-tossed log early that December morning was no egg.

    Experts believe it's a chunk of beeswax from a Spanish trading vessel that sank off the coast of what is now Oregon more than 300 years ago.

    "From the picture they sent me, that's what it looks like to me it's definitely beeswax," said Scott Williams of Olympia, Wash., assistant state archaeologist for Washington.

    Williams would know: He's the leader of the "Beeswax Wreck Project," an effort by a nonprofit group of volunteers whose mission it is to solve the mystery of why blocks of beeswax have been popping up along the Oregon Coast for centuries.

    They suspect the beeswax is either from the Santo Christo de Burgos, which sank in 1693, or the San Francisco Xavier, which disappeared in 1705. In both were tons of beeswax from the Philippines bound for Mexico via the Manilla-Acapulco trade route, Williams explained. There is historic evidence one of the ships wrecked in Nehalem Bay, creating the beeswax bounty, according to the team that hopes to conduct archaeological research at the site.

    "Where she (LeGuee) found it would be unusual, being so far south," Williams said, noting the ocean currents off Oregon flow north, not south. "But we know the Indians were trading it prehistorically up and down the coast."

    LeGuee, 52, and her dog, an energetic German shepherd named Norman, found the beeswax along the beach just south of Gold Beach in early December. She often takes her two children to school in the morning then goes for a short walk on the beach with Norman. Her husband, Rory, is a local minister and a substitute teacher.

    Since a ferocious storm had just blown through the region, Loretta LeGuee, a 1973 graduate of Medford Senior High School, kept a sharp eye out that day. After all, she had found fishing floats and agates in the past after a storm.

    "And we had just had high winds real bad weather," she said.

    Sure enough. There was the beeswax weighing some 10 pounds.

    After showing it to her husband, she took it to Gold Beach High School so science teacher Nancy Treneman could examine it.

    "I have walked the Oregon beaches for 48 years and I have never seen anything like this," said Treneman, a veteran teacher who has taught everything from chemistry to physical science.

    "Loretta has found the coolest find," she said, noting her students are fascinated by the discovery.

    "It's things like this that make it so interesting to live here," Treneman added. "Two years ago it was a dead whale. This year, it's the beeswax."

    "Yeah, when I took the kids on a drive down past Pistol River the other day, we were talking about the dead whale," LeGuee said. "One of the kids said, 'Remember mom, one of the kids got up on top of it and fell in.' "

    With that, both LeGuee and Treneman fill the science room with laughter.

    As a marine biologist, Treneman can rattle off the Latin names of the barnacles and mussel shells embedded in one side of the wax.

    "This looks to me like a worm tube," she said of a formation left by one long-dead sea creature. "They are all species that live on our coast. All of these are near-shore species."

    But she was at wit's end about just what the chunk was until she spotted a January article in Science magazine. It told about Oregon's mysterious "beeswax wreck" near Nehalem.

    "I knew this was what we had," said Treneman who then contacted Williams about the find.

    Beeswax was a hot trade item back when the two Spanish vessels sank, Williams explained. It was much preferred for candles over foul-smelling tallow (rendered animal fat).

    "The Catholic church required the use of beeswax," he said. "There were no native honeybees in the New World. The churches in Mexico had to get wax from someplace and the large Asian honeybees produced a lot of beeswax."

    There are numerous records dating back to the early 1800s of Indians trading cakes of beeswax to Europeans coming into the Pacific Northwest, he said.

    "As soon as the Northwest fur trades came into the country, the Indians were trying to trade beeswax to them," he said. "The Indians told them it was from a shipwreck."

    The San Francisco Xavier was carrying some 75 tons of beeswax, representing at least 500 cakes, according to shipping records. Because a massive tsunami in January of 1700 would have sent earlier ship remains farther inland, a researcher on the team believes the Nehalem Bay beeswax is likely from the 1705 shipwreck.

    Over the years, Williams has talked to nearly a dozen people, mainly along the northern Oregon coast, who have found large chunks of beeswax.

    Although it has little monetary value, unlike the gold and silver found on some sunken galleons, the rare find is priceless to the archaeologist.

    "It's 300-year-old beeswax from a Spanish galleon to me, that's really neat," Williams said, adding, "And it's still washing up."

    For more information about the Beeswax Project, check out online.

    Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or e-mail him at

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  4. #4
    Aug 2008
    103 times

    Re: Search for Bee's wax wreck comes up empty

    That looks a little like the one I just found off the San Augustin, but I think the close fresh water source and bog-like conditions at Limantinour preserved the one I found a lot better. I turned mine over to the park service, like I do with all the stuff I find there.

    A thing to remember about these Manila galleons is that with rare exceptions, they were turning over their silver and gold in Manila to pay off previous investors and buy new inventory they could transport back across the Pacific for a profit. They wouldn't take a silver bar or a gold coin all the way from Mexico to Manila, and then turn around and sail back to Mexico with it. They would buy 10 china plates, 20 tortise shell combs, or 40 pounds of a rare wood that they could sell at Acapulco at the fair for 5 gold coins. The limit of the worth of the goods was dictated by a royal decree and was about 100,000 pesos. This amount was usually exceeded by 150%. With some exceptions, this was all supposed to be sold to and used in New Spain (Mexico).

    A lot of the stuff transported was perishable too, like silks, finished cottons, beeswax, gutta percha, fine wood and ivory work, samurai swords, weapons and armor, cinnamon pepper and cloves, and all sorts of "oriental bric-a-brak."

    What survives is the porcelin and non perishable metals. From what I remember, the San Francisco Xavier had made a previous run, or been used as a cannon platform to fight off the Dutch who attacked Manila.

    My San Augustin beeswax.



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