Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Most of us love a good story about a found treasure; lately, those have mostly been about Goodwill patrons finding valuable paintings buried behind discarded motel-room art. But today there’s a story out of South Carolina that might be about actual treasure, and archaeologists believe they might have some gold on their hands.

The wreckage of a 19th century steamer ship was discovered on Sunday off the coast of Cape Romain, and Dr. E. Lee Spence says it’s what’s left of the SS Ozama. The ship originally carried guns and is thought to have hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gold on board.

The ship is remarkably intact considering what it’s been through; built in 1881, it was first used to tow dredges in the building of the Panama Canal, but wrecked in the Bahamas just a year later.

“The vessel made a number trips to Panama and other ports in the Caribbean, sailing into turbulent times,” Spence said. “Her colorful history is packed with events such as a mutiny and extensive gun and money smuggling to Haiti.”

The ship eventually wrecked in 1894 in Cape Romain after striking the shoals on its way to Charleston, where it’s been ever since. Dr. Spence doesn’t yet know what secrets it may hold, as he has to make sure it’s safe to enter first, but whatever he finds will be his.

“This ship had a long history of smuggling and of carrying large amounts of money, and I became the owner of it last year whenever I laid claim in federal court to this wreck and other wrecks that I found off Cape Romain, South Carolina. But I had no idea when I laid claim to it what it was, and it was just recently that I discovered its identity,” he said.


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