SS Independence gold

Feb 14, 2022
1
2
Hello everyone, I am posting here about my Uncle who in the late 80's was looking for a shipwreck known as the SS Independence. He was part of a team who basically went down to Mexico disguised as a fishing crew and were trying to get to the wreck, but they had problems with the boat and it never happened. The boat was on it's way from the Panama Canal to San Francisco, and was caught in a storm in 1853, and sunk off of Baja California, at the southern point of Islas Margaritas. I believe over 150 people died. He told me that they found skeletons of people who were buried on the island and some gold coins. Apparently one of the other people on the team went to the Library of Congress and found out there was gold on the ship, but I can't find any evidence about it online. Wondering if anyone else has any information on this.
 

eyemustdigtreasure

Silver Member
Mar 2, 2013
3,365
5,222
California
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Primary Interest:
Metal Detecting
Hello everyone, I am posting here about my Uncle who in the late 80's was looking for a shipwreck known as the SS Independence. He was part of a team who basically went down to Mexico disguised as a fishing crew and were trying to get to the wreck, but they had problems with the boat and it never happened. The boat was on it's way from the Panama Canal to San Francisco, and was caught in a storm in 1853, and sunk off of Baja California, at the southern point of Islas Margaritas. I believe over 150 people died. He told me that they found skeletons of people who were buried on the island and some gold coins. Apparently one of the other people on the team went to the Library of Congress and found out there was gold on the ship, but I can't find any evidence about it online. Wondering if anyone else has any information on this.
Welcome to TNet...!
 

lukdiver

Full Member
Dec 8, 2012
110
99
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
Hello everyone, I am posting here about my Uncle who in the late 80's was looking for a shipwreck known as the SS Independence. He was part of a team who basically went down to Mexico disguised as a fishing crew and were trying to get to the wreck, but they had problems with the boat and it never happened. The boat was on it's way from the Panama Canal to San Francisco, and was caught in a storm in 1853, and sunk off of Baja California, at the southern point of Islas Margaritas. I believe over 150 people died. He told me that they found skeletons of people who were buried on the island and some gold coins. Apparently one of the other people on the team went to the Library of Congress and found out there was gold on the ship, but I can't find any evidence about it online. Wondering if anyone else has any information on this.
PM sent. We were at the site 2x, once 1979 & 1980.
 

Porthole

Newbie
Apr 28, 2022
1
3
Primary Interest:
Shipwrecks
Hello everyone, I am posting here about my Uncle who in the late 80's was looking for a shipwreck known as the SS Independence. He was part of a team who basically went down to Mexico disguised as a fishing crew and were trying to get to the wreck, but they had problems with the boat and it never happened. The boat was on it's way from the Panama Canal to San Francisco, and was caught in a storm in 1853, and sunk off of Baja California, at the southern point of Islas Margaritas. I believe over 150 people died. He told me that they found skeletons of people who were buried on the island and some gold coins. Apparently one of the other people on the team went to the Library of Congress and found out there was gold on the ship, but I can't find any evidence about it online. Wondering if anyone else has any information on this.
INDEPENDENCE was northbound from Acapulco, her last port of call, when she hit a reef off Punta Tosca on the south end of Isla Santa Margarita. She got off the rock but was mortally wounded. Capt. Sampson ran her onto the first beach on the island he could find where the steamer burned , 132 ppl. died of the 415 on board. The dead included 117 passengers and 15 crew. Of those, about 60 are buried in a mass grave on the upper beach. Today there is rotted canvas (sail cloth) mixed in the sand. About 1979 a Mexican archeological group lead the first known organized expedition to the wreck site. Others followed in the 1980s and 1990s. INDEPENDENCE seems to be 'discovered' every decade but the graves are now much harder to see as one group I believe in the 1990s re-buried them but various bones such as long bones and even skulls are occasionally exposed. As to treasure, the beach has been heavily worked w/ mags. starting in abt. 1976 that I'm aware of, but there is so much metal, bits of brass and debris it is hard to distinguish coinage. I have never heard of anyone finding a coin on INDEPENDENCE, buttons yes, but no coins, although there should surely be some there as the ship burned right in the surf and nearly all the passengers belongings were lost. Survivors were rescued several days later by the whaler METEOR anchored inside the bay, on the SE corner of the island. As an interesting side note, there was a coaler named Thomas Sawyer onboard. He made at least four rescues that can be documented. The 4th rescue was of an officer named Collins, who stated he was clinging to a spar when Sawyer swam a lifejacket to him and pulled him ashore using the lifejacket, a testimony of the rescue that was very different from that painted by Sawyer, who claimed Collins had sunk below the surface and he, Sawyer, dove down to rescue him and another man, dragging them up from the depths. Sawyer's colorful claims of rescuing masses have been embellished as there could not be found any other survivor's testimonies lending any credibility to his assertions. Shortly thereafter Sawyer befriended Samuel Clemens, AKA Mark Twain, who famously said, “never letting the truth get in the way of a good story.” It is believe Clemens took Sawyer's name for his famous fictional character. Today the only confirmation of the claimed rescues come from posting's from his decedents or Sawyer's own stories to the newspapers, there is no 3nd party evidence to support these claims. Also today the only visible signs of INDEPENDENCE is a winch, some misc. gear, and when the sand is out, her port and starboard paddlewheel shafts. No wreckage has been found in the water, her walking beam engine believed to have been crushed into the aggregate. She is visited fairly frequently, often by yachters who swim ashore or land their dingy on the middle of southern end of the beach. The wreck can also be reached by hiking across the island.

Hello everyone, I am posting here about my Uncle who in the late 80's was looking for a shipwreck known as the SS Independence. He was part of a team who basically went down to Mexico disguised as a fishing crew and were trying to get to the wreck, but they had problems with the boat and it never happened. The boat was on it's way from the Panama Canal to San Francisco, and was caught in a storm in 1853, and sunk off of Baja California, at the southern point of Islas Margaritas. I believe over 150 people died. He told me that they found skeletons of people who were buried on the island and some gold coins. Apparently one of the other people on the team went to the Library of Congress and found out there was gold on the ship, but I can't find any evidence about it online. Wondering if anyone else has any information on this.
 

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