The Most Famous Shipwrecks in American History
The Most Famous Shipwrecks in American History
While the United States remains a relatively young country compared to many others in the world, we have our fair share of history. One of the more interesting aspects of history is mysteries and solving them. I consider historic shipwrecks to be of great interest and historical value because of the story behind each lost ship. Below are the five most famous shipwrecks in American history. All of them are located somewhere around the country and there is an interesting story behind each one.
1) U.S.S. Arizona
-In my opinion, the U.S.S. Arizona is the most famous American shipwreck in history. It did not carry gold or jewels and was not lost out at sea. It was an American battleship sunk at Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack that sparked World War II on December 7, 1941. Some 1,177 lives were lost as a Japanese bomb tore through the ship and into the munitions hold. The bomb then detonated and set off a massive explosion inside the ship sinking it quickly. The wreckage is still on the bottom of Pearl Harbor and a national monument was built over the wreckage, which is visited by some 1.5 million tourists every year.
2) S.S. Andrea Doria
- The Andrea Doria is not an American ship, but rather an Italian one. However it was sunk off the coast of Massachusetts. The ship was the grandest passenger ship following World War II and made transatlantic crossings still, as people were still not yet used to airplanes. On July 25, 1956, the Andrea Doria collided with the M.S. Stockholm off of Nantucket, Massachusetts. The Stockholm received minor damage, but the Andrea Doria was fatally wounded on its side. Some 46 people died on the ship, but many lives were saved because of the massive rescue effort.
3) S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald
- The Edmund Fitzgerald was a large cargo ship that sailed throughout the Great Lakes in the 1960’s and 1970’s. On November 10, 1975, the Fitzgerald sunk in Lake Superior during a massive storm. The cause of the sinking has been a mystery that has not fully been resolved, but experts believe that hatches not being properly closed are the likely culprit. The ship is located in 530 feet of water and some 29 sailors lost their life.
4) S.S. Republic
- The Republic was a passenger ship sailing from New York to New Orleans carrying some 100 passengers and $400,000 in currency designed to help reconstruct the south, following the Civil War. The Republic ran into a hurricane off the coast of Georgia and sank on October 25, 1865. The majority of the passengers were saved, but the coins were lost to the sea. In August 2003, the Republic was found 100 miles off the coast of Georgia in 1700 feet of water. Salvagers managed to bring up 51,000 coins, roughly 1/3 of what the ship was carrying. Today, the coins are worth more than $75 million.
5) S.S. Central America
- The Central America was a passenger ship that was carrying several hundred passengers and 30,000 pounds of gold. In September 1857, the Central America ran into a hurricane off the coast of the Carolinas going from the Panamanian city of Colon to New York City. The majority of the people and gold on board were products of the California Gold Rush. The ship was old and sank suddenly in the storm. Some 400 passengers died and all of the gold was lost. Due to the loss of such a large quantity of gold, the shipwreck sparked the economic Panic of 1857 over gold shortage fears. The wreck was discovered in 1987 and the gold recovered was worth an estimated $100-$150 million.
Our history is rich with such accounts, but these five are the most famous shipwrecks in American history. They make the cut because of the loss of life, the loss of treasure, or the tragic story behind each one.
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