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SS CENTRAL AMERICA
The Ship of Gold

   


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On September 3rd, 1857, 477 passengers and 101 crew on board the Central America left the Panamanian port of Colón and sailed for New York City.  The ship was heavily laden with over three tons of gold. 

The precious cargo included approximately 5,200 recently-minted $20- denomination ("Double Eagle") gold pieces produced in 1857 at the San Francisco Mint. The gold for these coins was mined during the California Gold Rush. There also was a much smaller quantity of other historic gold coins that circulated in the Wild West. The cargo also contained privately-made gold coins and ingots produced by such historic, government-supervised San Francisco Gold Rush-era assayers.

On September 9th, the Central America was hit by a Category 2 hurricane off the coast of the Carolinas. Two days later, 105 mph winds shredded all her sails. At noon, a leak in one of the seals to the paddle wheels gave way to seawater and her boiler could no longer maintain fire. The passengers and crew flew the ship's flag upside down (a universal sign of distress.) No one came.

A bucket brigade was formed and her passengers and crew spent the night fighting a losing battle against the rising water. In the morning of September 10th, two ships came to the rescue. 153 people, primarily women and children, managed to make their way over in lifeboats. 425 people still on board the Central America went with her to the bottom at around 8 pm that night.

Unable to meet payrolls or pay creditors because of the loss of the gold cargo, New York banks began to fail and stores and factories began to close, touching off a financial crash in the United States and Europe. It was "The Panic of 1857."


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This SS Central America model  features:

16" long x 8" tall x 4.5" wide.   $890    S&H is $130   sold out.

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