Lost Ship in the Desert

WikipediaThe 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.

LINK: In 1610, King Phillip III of Spain ordered Alvarez de Cordone to search the Western coast of Mexico and recover the pearls residing there. Cordone hired two other captains, Juan de Iturbe and Pedro de Rosales. He also hired sixty pearl divers and began having three ships build. By July 1612 they set sail to plunder the west coast of its precious oysters.

Over and over again the ship would pause in its travels so the pearl divers could jump off the ship and return with the oysters they discovered on the ocean floor. But the going was slow. Eventually they discovered a Native American village and stopped, meeting with the village leaders. They discovered that the Native Americans had baskets of the pearls just lying about and they formulated a trade of their rich fancy European clothing for the pearls. However, the Spanish swindled the Native Americans and traded them only rags and dirty cloths. The Native Americans outraged attacked the ship as it was trying to set sail. Cordone was hit by an arrow and lay ill. His ship was forced to turn around, but he ordered the other two on in search of more pearls, commanding them to look up the Gulf of California.

As they journeyed up the Gulf, Rosales's ship struck a reef. The cargo was rapidly transferred to Iturbe's ship and they continued on. One story says that Rosales's ship was sunk in a terrible storm. With one ship remaining they sailed up the Gulf and eventually up the Colorado River and into the Salton Sea (or the Blake Sea or Lake Cahuilla as it may have been called long ago).

For a perspective, here is the region on Google Earth (below). Tons of shifting sand and places to get lost and be reexposed, especially when the Colorado River overflows. An El Nino year would be ideal for a search and a drone would probably be the best option. In fact, we are starting up an El Nino pattern again. This winter might be a good time for a search.