More than $50 million worth of gold bars, coins and dust that’s been described as the greatest lost treasure in US history is about to make its public debut in California after sitting at the bottom of the ocean for more than 150 years.
The 3,100 gold coins, 45 gold bars and more than 36 kilograms of gold dust recovered from the wreckage of the S.S. Central America steamship are now sitting in a makeshift laboratory just south of Los Angeles.
Bob Evans, the chief scientist on the original voyage that discovered the shipwreck and its treasure in 1988, is now painstakingly cleaning each piece of gold by hand, soaking it in a solution and brushing off rust and grime that accumulated as the treasure sat 2,134 meters below sea level.
“This is a whole new season of discovery,” Evans told The Associated Press this week from the laboratory in Santa Ana. “We are now peering beneath the grime and the rust that is on the coins, removing those objects and those substances and getting to look at the treasure as it was in 1857.”
The Central America was laden with booty from the California Gold Rush when it sank in a hurricane off the coast of South Carolina in 1857. Four hundred and twenty-five people drowned and thousands of pounds of California gold were lost, contributing to an economic panic.