Odyssey Marine Exploration, a pioneer in the field of deep-ocean exploration and modern-day treasure-hunting, announced it recovered nearly 1,000 ounces of gold during the first reconnaissance dive to the SS Central America shipwreck site on April 15.
Recovered gold included five gold ingots and two $20 Double Eagle coins (one 1857 minted in San Francisco and one 1850 minted in Philadelphia). The gold ingots were stamped with assayer's marks and weights that range from 96.5 to 313.5 troy ounces.
The SS Central America was an 85-meter (280-foot) wooden-hulled, copper-sheathed, three-masted side-wheel steamship launched in 1853 as the SS George Law. Operating during the California Gold Rush era, the ship was in continuous service on the Atlantic leg of the Panama Route between New York and San Francisco, making 43 round trips between New York and Panama. The Central America was caught in a hurricane and sank 160 miles off the coast of South Carolina on September 12, 1857. When she was lost, the SS Central America was carrying a large consignment of gold for commercial parties, mainly in the form of ingots and freshly minted U.S. $20 Double Eagle coins. Because of the large quantity of gold lost with the ship, public confidence in the economy was shaken, which contributed to the Panic of 1857.