“The story of the SS Central America, its cargo, its lost passengers and crew and its survivors is a historic moment in American history, and the recovered items are a time capsule of the great California Gold Rush,” said Dwight Manley, managing partner of the California Gold Marketing Group. “For insurance purposes, we’ve estimated the display’s value at $40 million, but these extraordinary treasures are priceless.”
A 280-foot long, three-masted side-wheel steamship, the SS Central America was carrying tons of California gold that had been shipped from San Francisco to Panama when she sank in a hurricane during a voyage from Aspinwall (now Colón), Panama to New York City in September 1857. The shipwreck site and the gold were initially discovered more than 7,000 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean in September 1988.
Housed in a 40-foot long re-creation of the famous ship’s hull, the Ship of Gold exhibit originally debuted at the February 2000 Long Beach Expo to display a portion of the vast treasure from the first SS Central America recovery operations in the late 1980s. The exhibit subsequently was seen over the years by millions of people across the United States and overseas.