Nearly 10,000 years ago the Colorado Riveremptied into the Gulf of California or the Sea of Cortes. 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. Others have reached more or less the same conclusion as Dunning. It may be a story about some masterpiece you've been nurturing for years, of selling a tech startup to Google, of raising a family in rural Vermont. I will say this in defense of John Grasson: If catfish farms are possible in the desert, so are ancient treasure ships. Lost Viking Ship in California? A moment later I realized it was a child's play structure wedged between two trees. It is exactly what I'd expected him to say. A new life was started in San Jose California in 1886 by an eccentric lady named Sarah Winchester from New Haven to California. A few have even claimed to have seen the ship, its wooden remains poking through the sand like the skeleton of a prehistoric beast. Phantom Ship of the Gulf of California (Ives) 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. Most notably, how would a ship get into the middle of the desert? The vessel was made of wood, and there was a serpentine figure carved into its prow. 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. According to the Imperial County Farm Bureau, the area is also "home to one of the largest catfish farms west of the Mississippi.". He prefers to be called an "explorer of legends and lore," not a treasure hunter. 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. Here, your sense of wonder dissipates and is replaced by dread. To go through all of Bailey's research took Grasson seven years. 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. Which is the more fantastic tale? Viking ships were marine vessels of unique structure, built by the Vikings during the Viking Age.The boat-types were quite varied, depending on what the ship was intended for, but they were generally characterized as being slender and flexible boats, with symmetrical ends with true keel.They were clinker built, which is the overlapping of planks riveted together. It is today believed by many to be under the Salton Sea in California. We drove on an unmarked road to a striated formation of rock, a neat horizontal line dividing the cliff face into light and dark sections, as if it were an expertly layered ice-cream cake. 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. Audiences appeared to agree. Sightings of the desert ship began in the 1870s and The Desert Magazine covered the mystery of the desert ship for the first time in 1939. Aerial views of the desert area between the Colorado River and Imperial Valley and the Salton Sea. Grasson isn't denigrating professional archeology; only reminding its more pedigreed practitioners that their profession rewards a well-developed imagination—something it shares with astrophysics and pure mathematics but few other disciplines. Carver gave his audio testimony in 1964; it subsequently passed into the hands of "private collector" whom Grasson won't name. 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. 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. Grasson pointed to the striated rock that rose all around us. 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. "Could a ship pass through here? (Alex Berger / CC BY-NC 2.0) The state answered back with a resounding no. Grasson does not think the desert ship is in Canebrake Canyon, where Myrtle Botts claimed to have seen it in 1933. The editor of Desert Magazine during the 1960's, one Choral Pepper (2002), in her book Desert Lore of Southern California (1994), Chapter 3: Anza-Borrego Desert in a section called "Legend of the Lost Viking Ship" writes about a reported find of a single shield-like artifact somewhere close to or in Deep Canyon, near Palm Springs. 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. Grasson isn't an archeologist, and is definitely not a paleo-hydrologist, though he understands how and where water has moved across the desert. 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. We cannot subsist on faith alone, but can we subsist without any faith? Let us slink back to our cubicles and never speak of the desert ship again. Nearby was the reservation of the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians. "But I really think this ship is there." "I don't question the existence of the Lost Ship of the Desert," he wrote to me in an email. ( The-Wanderling) There are many places to cast doubt on the Botts’ story. This was once the property of Nels Jacobsen, the farmer who supposedly made fence with slats from a Viking ship. Hell, yes.". He played some of the city's famous clubs, but did not become famous himself. But if the lake is allowed to disappear, maybe Grasson will discover the desert ship on what is today the lake's floor, and what was 147 years ago the moonlit valley above which Albert Evans stood. In the parking lot of a small Indian casino where we stopped for lunch, Grasson pulled from the back of his Jeep a copy of The Last of the Seris, a 1939 book by Dane Coolidge about the indigenous people of Tiburon Island, in the Gulf of California. So they left and decided to come back in a few days. 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. 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. 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. He concluded that no Norsemen sailed up the Gulf of California: "There is no archeological evidence of Vikings anywhere along the American West Coast.". He sells mattresses. There were also impressions on its flanks where shields had been attached—all the hallmarks of a Viking craft. Let us banish forever all traces of wonder from our lives. Yet there are believers who insist that, using recent advances in archaeology, the ship can be found. Two factors drove Grasson into the realm of obsession. 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. There are many places to cast doubt on the Botts’ story. 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"). During the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration published a guide to California. The Canyon collapsed and the ship was buried in the rubble. Most notably, how would a ship get into the middle of the desert? Promising leads have vanished like a cactus mouse in the undergrowth. * 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. Subscribe today. The route Evans took came nowhere near Canebrake Canyon, and the ship Evans claimed to see was Spanish, not Norse. His attorney first contacted the California Department of Parks and Recreation in 1974 and then two years later with a proposal to enter an agreement with Justus and the Imperial Valley College Museum in El Centro, Calif., to secure an antiquities permit, after which he'd be able to keep "all gold, silver and rare stones.". A Viking ship. Searching for a Lost Viking Ship in California Viking ship from the Ship Museum in Oslo. The last leap has to be into something beyond fact. He once met Jay Leno, but asked me not to repeat the story of that encounter because he thought it was salacious. The leap Grasson wants to make is especially parlous. Remember the name of the tribe, it's important for later. 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." A map showing California as an island, an common misconception even into the early 18th Century. But in Imperial, the search turned up nothing. Brian Dunning, who hosts the popular Skeptoid podcast, investigated claims about the lost desert ship in 2010. We pulled off the highway, drove through town and toward a farmhouse shaded by a line of trees. 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. The Dutch didn't really buy Manhattan from Lenape natives for $24, but that legend persists. The desert is a changeable place, but not so changeable that an entire ship can disappear from view overnight. 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. By the time Myrtle and her husband had set out to explore, amid the blooming poppies and evening primrose, the story of the lost desert ship was already about 60 years old. The legend includes a history of California from Cortez to 1695. 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. Some time ago, he listened to a recording made by a farmhand named Elmer Carver. Elizabethan chronicler Richard Hakluyt reported that Cavendish’s Content and her consort ship, Desire, had set sail for England heavily laden with plunder from the Spanish galleon, Santa Ana. A 17th-century Spanish ship and a fortune in pearls are rumored to be buried in the sand of the Colorado Desert. This is, Coolidge wrote, "a record of the old Norsemen who visited the west coast of Mexico long before the Spanish came. Norse Greenlanders Dominated Ivory Trade, Walrus DNA Shows. '", You have 4 free articles remaining this month, Sign-up to our daily newsletter for more articles like this + access to 5 extra articles. Until someone proves the ship doesn't exist, it could exist. 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. Here, in the creosote wilderness, he found a tranquility he had never known before: "You start getting giddy when you realize how relaxed you are," he told me. "This guy from Skeptoid is grossly misinformed," Grasson says. He knows they look down on him, but he also thinks he knows more than they do. "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.". But even so, there has always been just enough to keep going. After his discharge, he went to Los Angeles in 1985, hoping to become a comedian. "[Their] science basically started with a treasure hunter looking for gold." Totally insane, right? 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. Magazines, newspapers and books across the world have long perpetuated the idea that a ship is buried beneath the desert floor. ", Grasson also had Golden Mirages, the book that first inspired him a decade ago. And whatever he made was hard-won. 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 1996, Grasson moved out to Orange County, because it was cheaper to live there. Your California Privacy Rights / Privacy Policy. Desire, with Cavendish aboard, lost sight of Content in the Gulf of California on November 19, 1587. 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." There's no way a historic ship is buried beneath the California desert. Viking ship's buried clues may reveal identities of mystery women. Newsweek is drawing attention to a search for California’s lost Viking treasure ship Breaking News tags: California, Spain, Viking, Archeology. That took three days and cost $500. Yet never once did I hear him air any grievances. It told us to keep looking. And I am glad he said it, for it would have been deflating to have his search voided by a single paragraph in an 80-year-old book. Lost Viking Ship Agua Caliente Springs (26 mi N of Ocotillo on Hwy S2) Today, the hot and cold springs in this desert canyon are maintained as a county park. Theories range from a Spanish galleon to a Viking knarr — and everything in between. Traveling to San Bernardino, Evans came into a valley that was "the grim and silent ghost of a dead sea," presumably Lake Cahuilla. Are we ready to become mere aggregations of lifehacks, corporate efficiency our only goal? 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