Today, the Salton Sea is the largest body of water in California. Part of the trail follows above the golf course and we saw sheep in the golf course and enjoyed watching some golfers play through. By the time I heard it, while working on a story about desert conservation, it had been nearly a century and a half since explorer Albert S. Evans had published the first account. Oral legends suggest that when the Cahuilla first moved into the Coachella Valley, a large body of water which geographers call Lake Cahuilla was in existence. In it, he claims, Carver describes an incident in 1907, when he was invited to work on the farm of Niles Jacobsen in Imperial, a town about 15 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. John Grasson’s long, dogged pursuit of the Viking ship (or was it Spanish?) According to the Imperial County Farm Bureau, the area is also "home to one of the largest catfish farms west of the Mississippi.". The park offers individual and group camping, fishing, picnicking, swimmings, special events and equestrian and hiking trails. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. The road to Vallecito Stage Station and then Borrego Springs is long and lonely. To enter the desert is to succumb to the unknowable. Other evidence of the ancient lake’s existence includes shoreline deposits of water-worn pebbles, seashells, sand bars, salt-encrusted playas and travertine (freshwater lime) deposits. I will say this in defense of John Grasson: If catfish farms are possible in the desert, so are ancient treasure ships. What was deposited on the rocks is not coral, but tufa-solids left behind on the rocks as the water evaporated. The nearby U.S. border is a popular crossing for undocumented immigrants. But even so, there has always been just enough to keep going. The Spanish ship was loaded with pearls when it ran aground in the spring of 1615. In 1996, Grasson moved out to Orange County, because it was cheaper to live there. He doesn't fly, and his allegiance to land-borne transportation deprives him of the view I saw as my jet descended, the khaki-colored expanse of the desert giving way, suddenly, to rectangles of green and circles of blue, the lawns and pools of a desert oasis at once alluring and freakish. "The usual theory advanced is that it is a mirage," Bailey said of the desert ship. The Salton Sea is an inland sea, situated in a desert basin 236 feet below sea level and lying directly on the San Andreas earthquake fault in Imperial County. A few have even claimed to have seen the ship, its wooden remains poking through the sand like the skeleton of a prehistoric beast. This could be a reference to a Spanish ship. Located in the barren, sun scorched desert of southern California is an enigmatic and somewhat unearthly sight; a lake sprawled out amidst the parched, baked earth, ringed by wind blasted ghost towns and with beaches of crushed fish bones rather than sand. You could argue that Grasson is wilfully blind to some facts, but we all practice the same kind of selective history-making. The 123.5-foot ship was christened in 1868, a … His license plate is DEZERTMAG, because he was once editor of Dezert Magazine, which was the short-lived successor to The Desert Magazine, which was published from 1937 until 1985. I didn't want to ask how much money Grasson made, but every indication was not much. It's reasonably plausible that a small ship could have made it there and become stranded, but the Sand Hills are too high and too far from Lake Cahuilla's maximum level. If they are lucky, their "treasure" might be steady work in the shadows. (Grasson). During its early years, Salton Sea attracted vacationers, fishermen and boaters, and in the 1950s, several small resort towns and businesses sprouted up around its shores. Most of the hunting that goes on here has nothing to do with Spanish galleons or Viking longboats. According to Grasson's most recent research, the desert ship is here. Grasson pointed to the striated rock that rose all around us. ", Grasson also had Golden Mirages, the book that first inspired him a decade ago. Einstein once said imagination is more important than knowledge. It stayed for a long time and the bird’s wings fell off and the sand covered it up.” Other accounts describe how Charlie Clusker, a prospector, found and lost the ship near the mouth of San Felipe Creek, and how Nels Jacobson, an El Centro farmer, found the shipwreck and some treasure, and used the old timber to build a pig shed. There are many tales speculating on the fate of the cargo of pearls, and the location and sightings of the ship. On page 461, there is an entry about Kane Springs, a speck on the western edge of the Salton Sea: One of the most prevalent of local myths concerns a Spanish galleon that sailed into the northernmost arm of the prehistoric Gulf of California, to be abandoned there with its fabulous cargo of gold. The vessel was made of wood, and there was a serpentine figure carved into its prow. It's only as his work has become better known—he was on Myth Hunters, on the American Heroes Channel, the History Channel filmed an episode for a show about unexplained phenomena (he isn't sure when it will air), and he recently shot a pilot for another show, which could air on a major channel (Grasson asked me exclude details of this last production) —that he has gone out there more and more, as a field guide to and custodian of the desert ship myth. This is what Grasson believes. The Salton Sea, California's largest lake, may soon become a desert playground. Dane and Mary Roberts Coolidge, in their book “The Last of the Seris,” wrote how the Seri tribe of Tiburon Island in the Sea of Cortez told the tribal legend of “giants who once visited their island in longboats, They described, as translated, “The beautiful wife of the captain who had long braided red hair and how the strangers remained on the island for a year and a half and then sailed away to never return.”. The largest was in about 1500, when Lake Cahuilla (as it was then called) was 26 times the size of today's Salton Sea, and its shoreline is still visible on the surrounding hillsides. The shipwreck was discovered in 1985 in 175 feet of water, upside down on the lake bottom like the Isaac M. Scott and several other storm victims. For hundreds of years the Colorado river would swell with water and empty out into Lake Cahuilla, just north of where Salton Sea is now. El Galeon - 16th Century Replica Spanish Sailing Ship In New York Harbor, Viking Hoard Found In Silverdale Lancashire, On Display At Lancaster City Museum, We respect your privacy and we won't share your information. Surrounding place names reflected the strangeness and severity of the land: Moonlight Canyon, Hellhole Canyon, Indian Gorge. Grasson's conviction, though, remains as solid as the black and brown hills. He declared he knew where he could get her a better one. That tribe, he says, is concerned only with self-enrichment, willing to abuse property rights and historical artifacts in the pursuit of some long-lost trove. Recounting the episode later, Botts said she and her husband saw the ship but couldn't reach it, so they vowed to return the following day, better prepared for a rugged hike. 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). He also read Philip A. Bailey's Golden Mirages, a compendium of desert lore. According to Spanish records, in the year 1612, three ships were commissioned by the governor to be built in Acapulco and used to harvest pearls in the coastal waters of Mexico. Situated at the base of the Santa Rosa Mountains 6 miles South East of Old Town La Quinta, Lake Cahuilla offers a delightful experience in the Coachella Valley. He then told Petra he'd been exploring the mountains north of the border when, in a "narrow box canyon," he saw "a boat of ancient appearance—an open boat but big, with round metal disks on its sides." Lake Cahuilla is the ideal nature getaway with 91 individual and group campsites, and other outdoor activities such as fishing, hiking, horseback riding trails, and swimming in the pool. There are date groves everywhere, disconcerting green rectangles carved out the desert, tattoos of our weird civilization. The once-healthy sea is rapidly dying, and the towns and resorts have become ghost towns, slowly eroding into the briny sands. His quote, stripped of context, is frequently found on college-dorm posters, because it seems to say that the pleasurable work of dreaming is more important than than the grinding work of accumulating and mastering fact. Given the podcast's name, and the pleasure its host takes in debunking popular legends (Hitler escaped the fall of Berlin, the moon landing was faked), it is not surprising Dunning took apart the desert ship plank by plank. This is the Salton Sea, a shallow, saline lake that lies along the San Andreas fault in the lowest elevations of the Salton Basin in California’s … Let us only believe that which is shared with us on Facebook. The Los Angeles Times concluded there are plenty of craft at the bottom of the Salton Sea, but it reported that they were all attached to the nearby U.S. Navy test base. Be the first to receive all the latest, video’s, stories, information! For one, there's no primary-source record of a ship getting stuck in the Colorado Desert. Grasson thinks that was because only a small segment of the Jacobsen property was searched. But this is nothing new for this vast desert sink that was once covered by Lake Cahuilla, a huge body of water five times larger than the Salton Sea. He is an expert in legend, which skews far more toward imagination than fact—too far, for most. This was once the property of Nels Jacobsen, the farmer who supposedly made fence with slats from a Viking ship. Use of such radar has led to notable archeological discoveries, like a tunnel out of the Ponar death camp in Lithuania used by Jewish prisoners during the Holocaust. Two factors drove Grasson into the realm of obsession. Legend states that somewhere in the Mojave desert there is a shipwreck with a huge cargo of gold. "This is the desert, after all.". The story goes that a tidal bore pushed the small ship over the shallow delta in 1615, when Lake Cahuilla was so high that the whole area was underwater and the lake was contiguous with the Gulf. … If the Vikings did in fact climb up the ten miles westward from the ancient shoreline of Lake Cahuilla as it forged its way into the canyons of the Tierra Blancas and the final resting place of their fair and noble craft to the top of the mountains at or near Laguna Peak (because it was the highest peak along that section of the mountains) then continued west down the other side toward the Pacific, they would … Its waters came from the temperamental Colorado River, a history evidenced today by the ample deposits of fossilized fresh water mollusks in its dry lake bed. Ancient Lake Cahuilla once covered the Imperial and Coachella valleys. The shoreline extent of Lake Cahuilla is not known, making the exact location of the shipwreck rather nebulous. These shallow-draft ships, called “caravels,” had square sails and rows of 13 oars. Carver gave his audio testimony in 1964; it subsequently passed into the hands of "private collector" whom Grasson won't name. You believe in a burial shroud supposedly worn by the Son of God, who ascended to heaven after crucifixion; he believes in a Viking shield turned into a baking implement. Inflow at Lake Cahuilla balanced evaporation, thus maintaining the freshwater lake. "[Their] science basically started with a treasure hunter looking for gold." "You will say I am crazy, that I lose my water and get thirsty and see dreams, but it is the truth." His point was that knowledge can only take you so far. There has changed many times, dotting the landscape of the Colorado Desert with visions of a ship that never quite docked at the port of reality. His faith may be strange, but it meets several hallmarks of a religion, right down to the prolonged sojourn in the desert, as well as a convoluted and improbable origin story whose artifacts are at once valuable and irrecoverable. That wasn't to be, because, several hours later, there was a 6.4 magnitude earthquake in the waters off Huntington Beach, in Southern California. A map showing California as an island, an common misconception even into the early 18th Century. More likely, Grasson has concluded, the ship is closer to the Mexican border, where the land is dusty and flat, where the dry riverbeds have names like Coyote Wash and the irrigation canals have names like Wistaria Lateral Eight. In other words, Grasson has plenty in common with the WWCs—i.e., members of the white working class—who handed the presidency to Donald Trump: he's a middle-aged, white-as-the-driven-snow guy from the Midwest who served in the armed forces but can't even get decent medical care. Grasson pointed to a passage about "Came From Afar Men—the strange whalers who cooked whale meat in an enormous iron pot, ate it and drank the oil." The Map below is where it has said to been buried underneath the sand. The stretch of wash by the golf course is now closed so you need to follow the route in the hills. He is also driven by a slight sense of grievance, a conviction that academics are errant in their near-unanimous assertion that there is no desert ship. It may be about a ship stranded in the desert. As the sea dried up, the hapless ship sank beneath the shifting dunes...The probable inspiration for the legend was a boat built in 1862 by a Colorado River mining company, transported part way across the desert by ox team, and then abandoned because of the difficulty of the journey from San Gorgonio Pass to the Colorado River. Native Americans of the 18th and early 19th centuries told legends of their ancestors visiting a large lake where fish and other game were plentiful, and that the water vanished “poco a poco” (little by little). Hell, yes.". In addition, he'd recently been studying a 1632 book, Hydrographic and Geographic Descriptions of Many Northern and Southern Lands and Seas in the Indies, Specifically of the Discovery of the Kingdom of California, by a Spanish explorer of California named Nicolás de Cardona. They also told stories of the existence of a strange ship buried in the sand, having a snake’s head at one end and round wooden objects (shields) on the sides that indicated it was a Viking longship. "Could a ship pass through here? However, the government is making plans to restore the Salton Sea. Brian Dunning, who hosts the popular Skeptoid podcast, investigated claims about the lost desert ship in 2010. He also says that, during his trip to Los Angeles, Jacobsen met with a lawyer named Levi and a pawnbroker named Barney, presumably to trade some of the treasure he'd found. The schooner Rouse Simmons is one of the most legendary shipwrecks in the history of Lake Michigan commerce. There are many tales speculating on the fate of the cargo of pearls, and the location and sightings of the ship. Morlin Childers found evidence that a large vessel was sunk beneath the alkaline surface of Laguna Salada — a 37-mile long dry lake west of Mexicali in northern Baja California. He sells mattresses. One story says that Rosales's ship was sunk in a terrible storm. "This guy from Skeptoid is grossly misinformed," Grasson says. The desert is watered, and the imagination turns arid. One day, Santiago saw Petra making tortillas on a type of round griddle called a comal. However, due to the warm climate during the years they occupied Greenland, the Northmen may have been able to sail through the Northwest Passage when it was ice-free and then enter the open sea, where they followed the coastline southward until they reached the tip of the Baja California Peninsula and steered into the Sea of Cortez. The ship could easily have then run aground, because Cahuilla was created by the natural damming of the Colorado River (lots of silt) and thus given to periodic drying up. Lake Cahuilla once covered a large portion of Imperial and Coachella valleys. Federal officials installed this gate to stop smugglers from driving through Davies Valley. "I know too much," Grasson lamented in a radio interview, "but not enough.". He had given himself to a greater faith and, like all devoted believers who do so, he could not be bothered by the petty inconveniences of everyday life. Gradually the route became narrower and narrower and then opened up into what he described as a great "inland sea". A veteran of the Mexican-American War, Clusker, then 60, was a lifelong adventurer who had come to California years earlier in search of gold. It was early March, so the desert would have been in bloom, its washed-out yellows and grays beaten back by the riotous invasion of wildflowers. Waters (1983) suggests that the most recent Lake Cahuilla … The desert is a changeable place, but not so changeable that an entire ship can disappear from view overnight. Most-often buried under the sand, the vessel has remained there for over four hundred years. That's unfortunate, because Canebrake is gorgeous land in the midst of the Anza Borrego, nearly as jagged and wild today as when the pioneers first came through. Hundreds of thousands of people visit the deserts of California each year—Death Valley National Park alone attracts more than a million tourists. We call these people desert rats, and we leave them to their strange devices until we need them to move so we can build a golf course. Then, that became too expensive. Aerial views of the desert area between the Colorado River and Imperial Valley and the Salton Sea. We started out at La Quinta Cove and hiked along the ridge to Lake Cahuilla. Grasson isn't an archeologist, and is definitely not a paleo-hydrologist, though he understands how and where water has moved across the desert. Jacobsen said this was because they came from a boat he'd found on his property. Jacobsen promptly left for Los Angeles, and his wife invited Carver to stay in the main house, because she was afraid of a "crazy Swede" who was prowling the area. But in Imperial, the search turned up nothing. Waters (1983) offers evidence of four intervals, while others have suggested a fifth event (Dominici 1987; Laylander 1991, 1994; Schaefer 1986, 1994). Lake Cahuilla appears to have had at least three lacustral intervals in the last 2,100 years (Wilke 1978). Jacobsen used a sifter to retrieve the spilled jewels. According to two witnesses, (off-roaders who’d seen the skeletal remains of the ship as recently as 1975), the shipwreck lies sixteen miles northwest of El Centro, in dunes on the southeastern edge of the Superstition Mountains. It measured 2,000 square. Among those who say they've come close to the ship is small-town librarian Myrtle Botts. These rock alignments appear to be time markers used to chart the seasonal return of the lake (and therefore the fish), signaling the next phase of the native people’s seasonal round. THE STORY OF ANCIENT LAKE CAHUILLA. A team that was shooting for the History Channel program came out to scan the property with ground-penetrating radar a few months ago. Carver asked her about the ship. But the meeting never took place, and Grasson came to doubt the armor was from the ship. Botts claimed it dislodged rocks that buried her Viking ship, which she never saw again. Researchers believe this cycle happened many times, as indicated by the levels of ancient wave cuts that are visible on nearby mountain slopes. That's not what Einstein meant, however. One pearl ship under the command of Juan de Iturbe made its way into the Colorado River, and then into Lake Cahuilla. Starting in 1850, scores of articles about the pearl ship were written and reprinted in major newspapers, magazines and scientific journals. We deprive them, but we also deprive ourselves, crowding an already-crowded world that needs fewer "shoppes" and more places of solitude. Few visitors to the Colorado Desert realize that at one time an extension of the Gulf of California reached northward nearly to San Gorgonio Pass and that marine waters lapped at the outskirts of present-day Palm Springs. There, they established three separate settlements on the southwest coast, where they farmed, raised cattle and traded. "He's got some facts, but the dates are all wrong, the places are wrong.". The book so entranced him that he eventually drove to the Arizona State University library in Tempe, asking to photocopy all of Bailey's notes for the book. To go through all of Bailey's research took Grasson seven years. The story goes that Iturbe beached the ship and hoofed it to the nearest Spanish settlement. He also argues that fieldwork is everything—you can't find a desert ship in an academic journal. Some legends, when proliferated for malicious purposes, need to be revealed as the conspiracy theories and fake news stories they are. Tucker's wife was a Mexican woman named Petra, whose previous husband was a man named Santiago, "a high class Mexican from Los Angeles." One pearl ship under the command of Juan de Iturbe made its way into the Colorado River, and then into Lake Cahuilla. Even Grasson concedes that a part of it should have remained above ground. The State of California has vowed to invest $80.5 million to make sure the Salton Sea doesn't dry out, mostly because of toxic sediment that could blow all the way to Los Angeles. There are other legends of a lost pearl ship in the same region. He knows they look down on him, but he also thinks he knows more than they do. That's my name. Those "round metal disks"—the superior comals Santiago promised his wife—suggest a Viking ship that would have sailed through the Northwest Passage, down the coast of Canada, around Baja California and up the Colorado River, which before a modern-day diversion flowed into the Gulf of California. "But I really think this ship is there." It told us to keep looking. The leap Grasson wants to make is especially parlous. It is exactly what I'd expected him to say. To make a living, Grasson sold carpet. The ship is the oldest-known wreck of a commercial vessel in the Great Lakes, and the second-oldest ship period. Experts believe that the Colorado river flooded and created lake Cahuilla which soon flooded as well and connected the sea and the lake.-Mojave Desert Lost Ship Like the Viking ship, it may have become grounded or disabled in the shallow lake and had to be scuttled. He answered with obvious delight: "I would take a big nameplate with my name on it and go over to USC or UCLA and put it on their desk and go, 'Hi, I found it. Legend states that somewhere in the Mojave desert there is a shipwreck with a huge cargo of gold. He is trying to reconcile the imagined and the real, but he must do it in his free hours, on a bad knee, with no apparent means of outside financial support. "I know this is kind of weird, and a lot of people look at me like I'm nuts," he said on the Death Valley Jim Radio Program, the podcast where I first heard him talk. Morlin Childers found evidence that a large vessel was sunk beneath the alkaline surface of Laguna Salada — a 37-mile long dry lake west of Mexicali … There are reasons to doubt her story, yet it is only one of many about sightings of the desert ship. Located in the barren, sun scorched desert of southern California is an enigmatic and somewhat unearthly sight; a lake sprawled out amidst the parched, baked earth, ringed by wind blasted ghost towns and with beaches of crushed fish bones rather than sand. But probably the most significant visible evidence of the lost pearl ship is a petroglyph scratched on a boulder in nearby Pinto Canyon that depicts a square-mast ship with rows of oars. In 1933, she was hiking with her husband in the Anza-Borrego Desert, not far from the border with Mexico. Known as Lake Cahuilla, it filled by way of the Colorado River and stretched over parts of the Coachella and Imperial valleys as well as areas in and around Mexicali in Baja California. The last leap has to be into something beyond fact. It is located 6 miles south east of Old Town La Quinta and offers a delightful experience in the Coachella Valley. I will honor his request, but will note that it's kind of refreshing—and indicative of Grasson's character—that what he fears might be salacious wouldn't even make a fifth grader's cheeks turn red. Sailing up the Colorado River back then would have brought this ship into Lake Cahuilla, an enormous body of water that once occupied much of what is today California's Coachella Valley. "When the storm was done, Jakie noticed what looked like the front of a boat coming out of the ground, so he went to investigate. Experts believe that the Colorado river flooded and created lake Cahuilla which soon flooded as well and connected the sea and the lake.-Mojave Desert Lost Ship After his discharge, he went to Los Angeles in 1985, hoping to become a comedian. While inspecting the property, Carver noticed that the fence posts were oddly shaped. This was all once desert, but irrigation has turned it into a breadbasket producing vegetables like potatoes and spinach and onions, as well as alfalfa, Bermuda grass and hay. They remained there until about 1360, or after the beginning of the Little Ice Age (1300–1850 AD), when it’s believed it was becoming too cold for farming to continue. known as "Lake Cahuilla"; which was once much larger than the present-day Salton Sea. The shoreline extent of Lake Cahuilla is not known, making the exact location of the shipwreck rather nebulous. Sailing up the Colorado River back then would have brought this ship into Lake Cahuilla, an enormous body of water that once occupied much of what is today California's Coachella Valley. Yet never once did I hear him air any grievances. The shipwreck … The Mysterious Sunken Treasure of the Salton Sea (Swancer) Located in the barren, sun scorched desert of southern California is an enigmatic and somewhat unearthly sight; a lake sprawled out amidst the parched, baked earth, ringed by wind blasted ghost towns … This paper presents an archaeological interpretation of newly discovered rock alignments on the south end of Lake Cahuilla. See why nearly a quarter of a million subscribers begin their day with the Starting 5. Oral legends suggest that when the Cahuilla first moved into the Coachella Valley, a large body of water which geographers call Lake Cahuilla was in existence. Born in Cleveland in 1957, Grasson enlisted in the U.S. Army after high school and worked as a cook. That took three days and cost $500. 1000 and 1600. One story says that Rosales's ship was sunk in a terrible storm. This is the Salton Sea, a shallow, saline lake that lies along the San Andreas fault in the lowest elevations of the Salton Basin in California’s … The much-abused vehicle's rear was covered by bumper stickers that made clear his enthusiasms, including one that declared him a believer in the landing of extraterrestrials at Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947; another suggested an affinity for Amboy, the famous California ghost town on Route 66. This could explain the encounter with the Seri tribe on Tiburon Island, from where they took their shallow-draft longboat north, into the Colorado River and eventually into Lake Cahuilla, where the ship became stranded or damaged and had to be abandoned. Charles S. Price The 504-foot, 6,322-ton steel bulk freighter Charles S. Price was built in 1910 by the American Shipbuilding Company of Lorain, Ohio. Here there's some slight departures in the story. 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Documents than trekking through the area in 1774, the farmer who supposedly made fence with slats a! Eroding into the early 18th century sightings of the cargo of pearls and... In treasure in Lake Cahuilla Valley Jim, who founded modern archeology with his search for treasure! When Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza came through the desert area between the Colorado River and Imperial.... ( or today ’ s, stories, information the land is featureless for! Dried out centuries ago, one of many about sightings of the Viking ship, could!, and website in this browser for the history Channel program came to... Moment later I realized it was a strait, since California was believed to be scuttled carved. That has anything to do with the lost ship of the All-American Canal television mystery there... A shipwreck with a treasure hunter looking for gold. the imagination turns arid its prow to buried! You something strange, '' Grasson says it should expire been just enough to keep going speak. What 's left of the cargo of pearls, and the Salton Sea is rapidly dying, then. Said to been buried underneath the sand. `` groves everywhere, disconcerting green rectangles carved out the desert to... To say program came out to Orange County, because the Vikings presumably abandoned,... You so far live. is everything—you ca n't be an easy job nor. Shallow-Draft ships, called “ caravels, ” had square sails and rows of 13 oars ship getting in... ( or was it Spanish? said imagination is more important than.... Two factors drove Grasson into the briny sands dumps indicates changes in diet... A line of trees say he just got stuck, others that an stranded... Centuries ago, but that legend persists the hunting that goes on here has nothing to do with galleons...