A ship from the Gold Rush era that sank off the coast of Washington which carried gold that is now worth millions of dollars, was believed to be discovered by a group of historical preservationists.

After colliding with another ship off in the Pacific Northwest, killing over 300 passengers and causing the loss of nearly $5 million in modern gold, the SS Pacific sank in November 1875. Now explorers believe that they have found the wreck of the SS Pacific.

Based on initial information, the find could be a “world-class find,” one of the leaders of the non-profit Northwest Shipwreck Alliance and Rockfish Inc, Jeff Hummel said.

“It looks so different than anyone ever expected, Initially, it looks like the wrong size, shape and everything. You slowly work through using the robots, imaging things and looking at it that eventually we realized: ‘Oh wait, that is the ship.’ It took a while,” Hummel told Fox 13 Seattle.

The fact that Hummel’s crew was able to find the ship’s paddle wheels, which had separated from the ship as part of the accident, was one indication that the wreckage they discovered was in fact from the Pacific.

Philip Drew of the Northwest Shipwreck Alliance said, “Historical accounts describe the Pacific partially breaking up at the surface, so we expected to find paddle wheels independent from the rest of the ship. Sure enough, we were able to image both paddle wheels with sonar and view the uncovered portion of them with the ROV in a nearby debris field.”

The discovery’s announcement comes after the U.S. awarded Rockfish Inc. the sole authority to salvage the wreck. James Robart, a district judge. The ship’s potential gold find may be part of the legal disputes during the salvaging project, which is anticipated to start in 2023.

The ship’s story, whose wreck has been considered one of the worst maritime disasters in U.S. history, Hummel hopes to allocate to a museum as he thinks that there could be a “treasure trove of artifacts.”

The S/V Orpheus collided with the vessel, which was being commanded by Jefferson Davis Howell, the brother-in-law of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. It took the Pacific almost an hour to sink.

Robots designed by Hummel and his team were developed especially for examining the ocean floor about 40 miles southwest of Cape Flattery. The two remotely operated vehicles, known as Falcor and Dra. Numerous people also participated in the search operations, which are reported to have cost $2 million.

As they return the ship to the surface, the crew does not anticipate finding any human remains among the gold miners, wealthy couples, and Chinese employees that were on board.

We take this very seriously, and this is a somber deal. This is not like woo-hoo party time kind of a thing. A lot of people died, even though their remains might not be in the vessel itself. We’re treating it with some dignity and reverence here because it is the final resting place of a great tragedy. There’s some real horror stories that these poor individuals befell oftentimes before they actually perished,” McCauley said.

When Hummel and Matt McCauley, another owner of Rockfish, discovered a sunken bomber ship in Lake Washington during their college years, then they decided to work together to search for forgotten history.

Sources: Dailywire, courthousenews, conservativenewsdaily

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