It reads, "One of the last photos of Larry Justus, who reportedly found the Lost Ship of the Desert.". "This guy from Skeptoid is grossly misinformed," Grasson says. Sufferers of arthritis and rheumatism park their mobile homes here for up to six months at a time, to enjoy the springs' soothing waters. There are many places to cast doubt on the Botts’ story. Hell, yes.". Brian Dunning, who hosts the popular Skeptoid podcast, investigated claims about the lost desert ship in 2010. This a reference to Heinrich Schliemann, who founded modern archeology with his search for the city of Troy in southern Turkey. Lost Viking ‘highway’ revealed by melting ice. I’m hoping I can catch someone who lives in this area of California, namely near the Anza-Borrego State Park. The last leap has to be into something beyond fact. There are reasons to doubt her story, yet it is only one of many about sightings of the desert ship. 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. She bought a tiny 8-room farmhouse and began a little refurbishment which would take $5.5 million and … One of the most intriguing story lines of the Lost Ship saga, is whether there could have possibly been a Viking voyage in which one or two ships were lost. 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. "This is the desert, after all.". The Content was loaded with 4 million dollars in stolen gold but it is believed that the ship ended up in the desert never … The Lost Ship of the Desert series is exclusively for subscribers on desertsun.com and other USA TODAY Network sites. Melting glaciers in Lendbreen, Norway have revealed a lost mountain pass and artifacts that were used by the Vikings. During the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration published a guide to California. Einstein once said imagination is more important than knowledge. A map showing California as an island, an common misconception even into the early 18th Century. "We tell ourselves stories," Joan Didion wrote in The White Album, "in order live." And yet the legend about a long-lost vessel has persisted for centuries. "But I really think this ship is there." Remember the name of the tribe, it's important for later. The explorers may have thought the lake was a strait, since California was believed to be an island into the 18th century. He also argues that fieldwork is everything—you can't find a desert ship in an academic journal. In 1870, for example, explorer Albert S. Evans was traveling to San Bernardino, Calif., when he claimed to have stumbled on its remains. When knowledge is sparse, he has to let his imagination do the work. In 1933, she was hiking with her husband in the Anza-Borrego Desert, not far from the border with Mexico. 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. Grasson went out into the desert, to the Vallecito Stage Station, one of the stagecoach stops on the Butterfield Overland Mail Trail. I will say this in defense of John Grasson: If catfish farms are possible in the desert, so are ancient treasure ships. He once met Jay Leno, but asked me not to repeat the story of that encounter because he thought it was salacious. It was a hint, though also a taunt. 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. In the rugged Colorado Desert of California, there lies buried a treasure ship sailed there hundreds of years ago by either Viking or Spanish explorers. Follow Question; 3 Great Question; Asked by ScottyMcGeester (1897) July 2nd, 2013 I wanted to know more about this story, as much as I can. '", You have 4 free articles remaining this month, Sign-up to our daily newsletter for more articles like this + access to 5 extra articles. "The moon threw a track of shimmering light," he wrote, directly upon "the wreck of a gallant ship, which may have gone down there centuries ago.". 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. Among those who say they've come close to the ship is small-town librarian Myrtle Botts. Newsweek is drawing attention to a search for California’s lost Viking treasure ship Breaking News tags: California, Spain, Viking, Archeology. The vessel was made of wood, and there was a serpentine figure carved into its prow. 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. Most of the hunting that goes on here has nothing to do with Spanish galleons or Viking longboats. The story begins in the year 1587. Reach her at kristin.scharkey@desertsun.com or on Twitter @kscharkey. The lost Spanish Galleon stories began after the Colorado River flood of 1862. It took Jakie quite some time to get through all the sand, but when he did he found a small chest full of gems. He could take up yoga, learn to garden, start a tour-guiding business. "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. Viking Sunstone Josh travels to England and Norway to unlock the secrets of the Viking sunstone, a mystic crystal the Vikings used to conquer the seas. Others have also seen this vessel, but much farther south, in Baja California, Mexico. History. "The usual theory advanced is that it is a mirage," Bailey said of the desert ship. John F. Kennedy will stay a paragon of 20th century liberalism, no matter how much we learn about his philandering, drug use and mafia associations. Nearby was the reservation of the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians. Those who support the lost Viking ship theory suggest Norsemen 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 … "He's got some facts, but the dates are all wrong, the places are wrong.". The state answered back with a resounding no. But these are not the things Grasson has chosen to do. This was once the property of Nels Jacobsen, the farmer who supposedly made fence with slats from a Viking ship. The legend does seem, prima facie, bonkers: a craft loaded with untold riches, sailed by early-European explorers into a vast lake that once stretched over much of inland Southern California, then run aground, abandoned by its crew and covered over by centuries of sand and rock and creosote bush as that lake dried out…and now it lies a few feet below the surface, in sight of the chicken-wire fence at the back of the Desert Dunes motel, $58 a night and HBO in most rooms. To get to Imperial, you skirt the western edge of the Salton Sea and head through the unnaturally fertile Imperial Valley. Imperial is a sad, low town eternally under a hot, low sun. Subscribe today. A Viking ship. Magazines, newspapers and books across the world have long perpetuated the idea that a ship is buried beneath the desert floor. It is enough for Grasson to live inside the legend, the way a believer lives inside a religion, never questioning its outer bounds. Viking ship's buried clues may reveal identities of mystery women. Are we ready to become mere aggregations of lifehacks, corporate efficiency our only goal? Unfortunately, that very day, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck Southern California. It told us to keep looking. Newsweek is drawing attention to a search for California’s lost Viking treasure ship Breaking News tags: California, Spain, Viking, Archeology. Today, the Salton Sea is the largest body of water in California. 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." We pulled off the highway, drove through town and toward a farmhouse shaded by a line of trees. "I was hooked full-bore," Grasson recalled. The Viking Sky lost power on Saturday and sent out a distress signal after it began drifting towards land. But others must be allowed to live, because without such nourishing nuggets of wonder, life can shrivel up into an endless series of tasks, captured and measured, posted on social media, forgotten. Hundreds of thousands of people visit the deserts of California each year—Death Valley National Park alone attracts more than a million tourists. In early December, there was another search, by another production company, using LIDAR, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging. But when he tried to lift the chest out it fell completely apart." Perhaps the most plausible tale of a ship lost in the desert involves the pearling expedition of Señor Juan de Iturbe in the year 1615. This is, Coolidge wrote, "a record of the old Norsemen who visited the west coast of Mexico long before the Spanish came. They point, for example, to a wooden sloop from the 1770s unearthed during excavations at the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan, or the more than 40 ships, dating back perhaps 800 years, discovered in the Black Sea earlier this year. We stood for a moment, watching the white bird pass. Some legends, when proliferated for malicious purposes, need to be revealed as the conspiracy theories and fake news stories they are. And if there was a ship on the desert floor, where did it go? All rights reserved. Like all faiths, Grasson's constantly renews itself, flourishing at the very moment when it should expire. A team that was shooting for the History Channel program came out to scan the property with ground-penetrating radar a few months ago. Selling mattresses can't be an easy job, nor an especially profitable one. When we'd spoken on the phone, I'd gotten the impression he thought the ship was of Spanish origin, which made more sense, as there were Spanish conquistadors in Mexico in the early 1500s, whereas there is no solid evidence of Viking settlement on the West Coast. 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. 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. This could be a reference to a Spanish ship. Over breakfast at a diner in Indio, I asked Grasson what he would do if he discovered the ship. That's when Hernando de Alarcón sailed up the western coast of Mexico, traversed the head of the Gulf and then navigated the lower Colorado River, making it at least to modern-day Yuma, Ariz. – abut 100 miles southeast of the Salton Sea. Like all great legends, the desert ship is immune to its contradictions: It is fake news for the romantic soul, offering passage into some ancient American dreamtime when blood and gold were the main currencies of civic life. Yet there are believers who insist that, using recent advances in archaeology, the ship can be found. Totally insane, right? 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. What was a ship doing out here, of all places? Those wildflowers were what brought the Bottses to the desert, and they ended up near a tiny settlement called Agua Caliente. Grasson is convinced his ship is buried on a farm near the sad, parched town of Imperial, but won’t say more because he doesn’t want the area to be overrun by “a bunch of idiots wrecking private property.”, while working on a story about desert conservation, Meet Death Valley Jim, California Desert's Best Hope, WWII-Era Tunnel Unearths Story of Lithuania's Jews, The 'Hole' is 12 Feet Below Street Level and About A Century Behind the Rest of New York, Camel Hair Was the Glamour Garment of the 1930s, Rikers Island Guard Guilty in Beating Death of Prisoner, New Bridge Reveals How Little South Africa Has Changed, How Endangered Species May Fare Under Trump, Extinct Tasmanian Tiger Was Smarter Than We Thought, Why Trump Won't Move the U.S. Embassy in Israel, Inside the War Between Trump and the Media, Trump is Standing on the Wrong Side of History, Beijing Is Becoming the Global Champion of Free Trade, he said on the Death Valley Jim Radio Program. Now Grasson wants to head back with a Geonics EM-61 MK IIA, a kind of ground-penetrating radar used on The Curse of Oak Island, a History Channel show about 140-acre plot of land off the Canadian coast that has hosted even more mysteries than the California desert. "I don't think that has anything to do with the lost ship of the desert," Grasson says. Aerial views of the desert area between the Colorado River and Imperial Valley and the Salton Sea. Like Bailey many years before, he refuses to consign the desert ship entirely to the realm of fiction. Let us banish forever all traces of wonder from our lives. In 2003, the Los Angeles Times concluded there were plenty of craft lost to the saline depths of the Salton Sea, but these belonged to the U.S. Navy, which had a test site nearby. But even so, there has always been just enough to keep going. Bailey might not have many more facts than Grasson, but he has does have the force of conviction, annealed by the passage of time. "We had a bad windstorm awhile back, and it blew a lot of sand off of one of the dunes near the back of the house," she said, according to Grasson. The grave was found during excavations in Trondheim, Norway. As in a good television mystery, there are clues everywhere. Yet some rivers can be deceiving, especially those in the volatile region west of the Rocky Mountains. 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. He played some of the city's famous clubs, but did not become famous himself. 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. It is believed that an English ship called The Content took a plunge off the coast of Baja, California, into the Cortez sea aka The Gulf of California — the home of the indigenous Kumeyaay tribe. The desert ship is buoyed by legend, but scuttled by facts. 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. 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. A Viking ship. Phantom Ship of the Gulf of California (Ives) 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." The route Evans took came nowhere near Canebrake Canyon, and the ship Evans claimed to see was Spanish, not Norse. Sarah Winchester as a young woman. Santiago said he was pulled away by his companions before he could explore the ship, and he never went back. The earliest tales of a lost Spanish galleon appeared shortly after the Colorado River flood of 1862. 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. To continue reading login or create an account. Tucker's wife was a Mexican woman named Petra, whose previous husband was a man named Santiago, "a high class Mexican from Los Angeles." 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. This would explain why sightings of the desert ship began in the 1870s, by which time the abandoned boat, exposed to the elements, would have come to look like an ancient vessel. We cannot subsist on faith alone, but can we subsist without any faith? © 2021 www.desertsun.com. Deep Canyon is known by archaeologists as carrying the trail that Cahuilla Indians … "If you gotta guy who spends 10, 15 years looking at one particular story," Grasson said one day over breakfast, "and you got an academic who spent maybe a summer or two—you gotta realize who really knows more.". The furthest documented voyage by a Spanish ship throughout the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries happened in 1540, says Don Laylander, a senior archaeologist with the cultural resources firm ASM Affiliates, who has published numerous studies on the region. In the Los Angeles Daily News of August 1870, the ship was described as a half-buried hulk in a drying alkali marsh or saline lake, west of Dos Palmas, California, and 40 miles north of Yuma, Arizona. (Alex Berger / CC BY-NC 2.0) The leap Grasson wants to make is especially parlous. A moment later I realized it was a child's play structure wedged between two trees. We deprive them, but we also deprive ourselves, crowding an already-crowded world that needs fewer "shoppes" and more places of solitude. Jacobsen said this was because they came from a boat he'd found on his property. However, Roberto Junco, director of underwater archaeology for Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History, says it's possible there may have been a shipwreck that "we know nothing about.". Desert Legends: The lost ships of the desert. In the rugged Colorado Desert of California, there lies buried a treasure ship sailed there hundreds of years ago by either Viking or Spanish explorers. A few have even claimed to have seen the ship, its wooden remains poking through the sand like the skeleton of a prehistoric beast. He became an avid visitor to TreasureNet.com, an international clearinghouse for those seeking Jon Swift's silver mine deep in the Appalachian Mountains or a vault made by the Knights Templar on an island off Nova Scotia. Jacobsen used a sifter to retrieve the spilled jewels. Before testing it, he explores a crypt in a Nordic church and descends 1,000 feet into a deserted mine. Lost Viking ‘highway’ revealed by melting ice 1,000-year-old horseshoes, sleds, and tools are emerging from a shrinking ice patch in Norway, telling the story of the rise and fall of a mountain pass and the people who travelled along it. Grasson hasn't been there, but won't discount the possibility. This created a waterway that reached inland as far as the valley currently known as Imperial Valley, California, would have provided easy access to the deserts of southwest America by ships. Cahuilla dried out centuries ago, but water returned here in 1905, after a dam broke on the Colorado River. He declared he knew where he could get her a better one. 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. And yet the legend about a long-lost vessel has persisted for centuries. If they are lucky, their "treasure" might be steady work in the shadows. Kristin Scharkey is features editor at The Desert Sun and editor of DESERT magazine. Two factors drove Grasson into the realm of obsession. A new life was started in San Jose California in 1886 by an eccentric lady named Sarah Winchester from New Haven to California. John Grasson’s long, dogged pursuit of the Viking ship (or was it Spanish?) "The beauty with legend," he says, "is that you're never wrong.". * Vintage 1960's Salton Sea, California Bathers and Boaters Post Card * // Circa 60's // Sexy Guys and Gals // Fast and fun boats // Summer time scene // Salton Sea, California // New old stock // Photo by David Mills // would make a great birthday card or bitchin' postcard to send someone special Please feel free to contact me prior to purchase with any questions you may have. We drove along an irrigation ditch, between fields of rye grass (Grasson has asked me not to reveal the exact location of this farm, for fear that its occupants might be disturbed by "a bunch of idiots going out and wrecking private property"). There were also impressions on its flanks where shields had been attached—all the hallmarks of a Viking craft. He is an expert in legend, which skews far more toward imagination than fact—too far, for most. There are reports of sightings around the Salton Sea and Imperial Valley, extending as far south as Mexico’s Baja peninsula, though firsthand accounts are rare. This may be foolish, for there are surely more productive ways Grasson could spend his time. Grasson does not think the desert ship is in Canebrake Canyon, where Myrtle Botts claimed to have seen it in 1933. For one, there's no primary-source record of a ship getting stuck in the Colorado Desert. The land is featureless except for the brown jags of mountains that squat on the horizon. The Dutch didn't really buy Manhattan from Lenape natives for $24, but that legend persists. Carver gave his audio testimony in 1964; it subsequently passed into the hands of "private collector" whom Grasson won't name. But they did leave a trace, and Parcak's team were determined to pick it up, however faint. Then, that became too expensive. "Those who hold to this theory as the only solution of the mystery insist that almost all the exciting tales that come out of the desert are due to mirages.". On that recording, Carver says he saw the ship protruding from the ground. The Jacobsons eventually divorced and left Imperial. Grasson thinks that was because only a small segment of the Jacobsen property was searched. That's not what Einstein meant, however. A 17th-century Spanish ship and a fortune in pearls are rumored to be buried in the sand of the Colorado Desert. He wears a black Dezert Magazine cap, which obscures what's left of the graying hair at his temples. Others have reached more or less the same conclusion as Dunning. The Canyon collapsed and the ship was buried in the rubble. Like many others who lived in or near Los Angeles, Grasson found real-estate prices pushing him East, into Riverside County and beyond, ever deeper into the desert, until he ended up in Banning, where he has lived for the last 11 years. It is fed entirely by agricultural run-off that will soon cease to flow, for an insanely complex set of reasons having to do with California's insanely complex water-rights statutes. Lost Galleon of the California Desert; COLD CASE On the morning of November 12, 1870, Charley Clusker set out from San Bernardino, California, looking for a 255-year-old Spanish ship loaded with pearls and other treasures. In 1870, Philadelphia’s Evening Telegraph called it “a marvellous story” about “a ship high and dry on a Colorado Desert – billows of sand beating about her.” In 1875, British publishing house Chapman and Hall released poet Joaquin Miller’s book of verse The Ship in the Desert. Ships were a Viking's most prized possession, and if a high-born Viking did not die at sea he would be buried in a ship on land. He prefers to be called an "explorer of legends and lore," not a treasure hunter. 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