A dozen wooden timbers from the suspected Santo Cristo be Burgos have been discovered in Oregon, adding further hope that the famous ship may be resting just offshore.
The hull remains were removed from sea caves near Manzanita, a small coastal city in northwest Oregon near the Washington border. The recovery mission involved archaeologists, law enforcement personnel, and search-and-rescue teams from both state and local agencies.
The fabled ship sank in 1693 with a full cargo of beeswax and porcelain. Blocks of beeswax with Spanish lettering and chunks of porcelain (which are made from beeswax) have been washing ashore since the early 1700’s, leading to constant reminders that the fabled ‘Beeswax Wreck’ was probably not far from shore.
Archaeologists have dated the recovered porcelain to between 1680 and 1700, which falls right in line with the loss of the Santo Cristo be Burgos.
Recently, The Washington Post covered the excavation of 12 timbers by the Maritime Archaeological Survey that they believe are linked to the ship.
“We’re about 90 percent sure they are [from the Santo Cristo de Burgos], but there is nothing definitive that we’ve seen that says they are from the ship that went missing in 1693,” said Scott Williams, the president of the Maritime Archaeological Society. “There’s a chance it’s an unknown shipwreck, but the odds are small for that. The simplest explanation is that these timbers are part of the galleon.”
How the ship went down is still unknown. It disappeared during a crossing from Manila, Philippines to Acapulco, Mexico, which was part of a well-known trade route for Spanish merchants. At the time, both Mexico and The Philippines were Spanish colonies. The cargo of beeswax was likely for making Chinese porcelain, rare silks, and candles. A National Geographic story about the ship also mentions oral histories passed down by local Indigenous tribes about a major sinking close to shore.
Williams and his team from the Maritime Archaeological Survey intend to establish a definitive link between the timbers and the ship. But there’s one major hurdle to overcome- the coastline is considered a marine reserve, which makes excavation illegal. However, there is hope that the group can undertake some deep water dives to explore the coastline for more evidence in the sand. Given that the Santo Cristo de Burgos has been slowly releasing her cargo for centuries, archaeologists are confident that her remains are either on the surface, or very lightly buried.
So, how does this related to the beloved 1985 cult classic, The Goonies? Simple.
The film was developed by Steven Spielberg, who needed a famous shipwreck along the Oregon coast to coincide with the film’s plotline taking place in sleepy Astoria, Oregon, just 35 miles from where the Santo Cristo de Burgos went down. The true story of the ship made a perfect fit for the fictional saga of ‘One Eyed Willy’ and his galleon The Inferno, leading Spielberg to adopt many of the features of the Santo Cristo de Burgos to The Inferno to suit the film.
The Goonies, if you’ve never seen it (but you totally should), centres around a rag-tag team of local kids from the ‘Goon Docks’ who embark on a journey to find One Eyed Willy’s missing treasure. The crafty kids elude everything from dimwitted mobsters to the Kraken before discovering the fabled ship inside a cave. The film is a beloved 80’s cult classic (so much so that the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”). To make the unveiling of the ship as surreal as possible, Spielberg and director Richard Donner built the 105-foot faux-galleon ‘Inferno’ specifically for the film inside a massive studio, replete with a cave and a lake. Sadly, The Inferno was destroyed after filming.