1888 Shipwreck Found Under Golden Gate Bridge, Photos Released

Image: 1888 Shipwreck Found Under Golden Gate Bridge, Photos Released

Thursday, 24 Apr 2014 07:12 AM

By Nick Sanchez

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A shipwreck from 1888 was recently found near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and archeologists released the first images of wood and iron steamship Wednesday.

"History is made up of a lot of people who never made it into the books," James Delgado, director of maritime heritage for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Sanctuaries, told NBC Bay Area. "Same with this shipwreck. It was filled with everyday people who got into a situation beyond their control."

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The "City of Chester" ship went down on August 22, 1888, killing 16 people just after it set off for Portland, Oregon. It was nearly cut in half by a ship more than twice its size, the Oceanic, in the dense fog of the bay.

Scientists are working with city administrators to display the new imagery and history of the boat's passengers at an exhibit in Chrissy Field, which looks out at the spot where the ship sank, just in front of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The new display will not only offer an account of the collision, but also offer a window into the post-Gold Rush context in which the ship sank. Specifically, it aims to showcase the original reporting on the disaster, whose accuracy varied wildly across numerous publications.

Likely because the larger ship was carrying Chinese immigrants, many reports inaccurately blamed the collision on the Oceanic, and failed to report the many acts of heroism the crew performed in saving many passengers from the freezing water.

"The Oceanic crew was up on the bow reaching down to survivors on the Chester, lifting them on the deck," Robert Schwemmer, NOAA's West Coast regional maritime heritage coordinator, told The Associated Press. "After the collision, in five or six minutes, the Oceanic crew went on to save a lot of people."

The 202-foot long steamship rises roughly 18 feet out of the seabed mud, and scientists have been lucky to photograph the impressive gash that sank it. It remains the second-worst shipwreck in San Francisco Bay Area history in terms of loss of life.

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