Lost Ship of the Desert

Wikipedia: The Lost Ship of the Desert is the subject of legends about ancient ships found in California's Colorado Desert. Since after the U.S. Civil War, stories have been told about buried ships hidden in the desert lands north of the Gulf of California.

The lost Spanish Galleon stories began after the Colorado River flood of 1862.  The reports were of a half-buried hull in the dry saline lake not far from Yuma, Arizona.  It is today believed by many to be under the Salton Sea in California.

A serpent-necked Viking ship was also reported by natives in 1900 in the Colorado River region. Supposedly in 1933 someone had a photo of it and a map to the location which is now held by a museum.

Another legend involving a Spanish Galleon was from supposedly the 1500s involved one going up the Gulf of California. Someone supposedly in the 1700s stole the pearls from the stuck ship and in 1917 supposedly a farmer stole a chest of jewels from it.

Many still go in search of this disappearing and reappearing ship, everywhere from the Yuma Arizona area to the Salton Sea. Some say they ran across it, but produce no relics or photos. It's a very interesting prospect, but given the lack of rain in California, I'd rather doubt it would pop up and go away so easily. Still, there's nothing like a ghost ship on land to set you wondering.... It sounds like it's time for Julie and I to hit the road to chase another legend.


  1. Yep, Salton Sea and ghost ship, here we come!

  2. obviously you don't have to post this. but your last sentence, shouldn't it read ...Julie and me... hope you don't mind me pointing this out

    1. Actually, no. If it were a pronoun, like "you" it would be "me" but with a proper noun like Julie, it is "I."

  3. I've spoken with Yuma residents in 1990 about one of these ships, The Uncle Sam. Apparently it was moored at the docks in Yuma (I know, sounds weird) when the Colorado flooded and broke its ties and sent it downstream down a newly cut flood channel into an area that was later covered by the shifting dunes. I believe the ship was found two or three times in the last 140 years, all pre-GPS of course. One of the reports had it completely uncovered in the 1950's and the dune riders actually boarded it. They said that the ship atill had its cargo and full complements.

  4. @ karl I think the name "uncle sam" is incorrect
    i think it was the earlier steam ship the "explorer"
    that was written about by Ainsworth in 1962

  5. Uncle Sam, was a side-wheel paddle-steamer, first steamboat on the Colorado River, in 1852.



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