Repairs weren’t anything out of the ordinary. But with this new round of tweaks, her team had to look deeper.
As they scanned the bay floor and saw a strange outline not far from one of the bridge supports, she knew they found something important.
Most people think that deep-water discoveries like sunken treasure or mysterious objects are found in exotic places where pirates once roamed.
But for Lilly Moorin of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) she knew there could be amazing finds anywhere.
Monitoring The World
NOAA did far more than people realize, and Mary loved that she was part of a huge team that monitored the waters of the entire planet.
So, when she was told she would be going to San Francisco on her next assignment, she felt a surge of excitement. The waters of that area were quite special.
Back in the time of the Spanish conquistadors, what would eventually be known as the Golden Gate Bay ended up being completely missed.
First, the thick layers of fog made it difficult for sailors to see – which means it went undiscovered for a long while. But that wasn’t all.
Second, the strong currents would usually pull or scuttle ships before they could even make it to the safety of the bay.
Part of Mary’s job wasn’t just knowing about oceans and rivers. She needed a decent gasp on history as well, and she knew far too well what that body of water used to be notorious for.
Sadly, it was quite normal for ships to just disappear. Sometimes there would be survivors.
Sometimes, no one would make it out alive. Mary and her team eagerly set up their array of sophisticated equipment and got straight to work. The engineers were itching to get started on their repairs.
Feat Of Engineering
It was 330 feet down into the dark, cold waters where the mighty supports rested.
Mary held her breath anytime something odd appeared on the screen. It was truly an amazing feat of engineering that Joseph B. Strauss had pulled off. It had also saved far more lives than he would have ever imagined.
Now, to anyone outside NOAA, an “outline” wouldn’t be anything to jump at.
But to her trained eyes, she immediately knew they had stumbled on something. The team scrambled with further tests and scans. The result was unbelievable. It was a ship! But not just any, old vessel. This one had a famous name.
Locals knew the name “Noonday” quite well.
It was a huge cluster of rocks that had been the enemy of many pre-States ships. It was actually the vessel “Noonday” that had crashed on those very rocks that gave it their name. But this was just the beginning of their discovery.
Lost And Found
Even if the old wooden bones were buried under years of dirt and silt, the outline and other details made it a certain match for the lost ship.
It was astounding – even though ever soul had been saved, the abandoned ship had drifted and found a different resting place. Noonday was the first breadcrumb in a long, historic trail.
Mary felt the familiar rush of adrenaline as they continued to remap the bay floor, and another outline appeared.
It was totally different from the build of the 1863 skipper they had just discovered. They had found another one?!
To her and her team, this was like an archaeologist stumbling across an Egyptian burial tomb … and then finding another close by.
Granted, the bay had claimed over 300 wrecks in the past, but that didn’t mean there was always enough left to make an identification. What was this new ship?
“S.S. Selja” was a steamer that sank in 1910.
Between the gold rush and vital trading hub that would become San Francisco, there was no shortage of old documents to sift through. She couldn’t believe they had found another historically significant resting place! There was one group that wasn’t going to take the news well.
One Of The Worst
The repair team was going to have to wait a little longer … because Mary and her team had found a third ship – one that had a far more tragic ending.
It was an iron-hulled, steam-powered passenger ship called the “City of Rio de Janeiro.”
The ship that had carried 220 souls from Hong Kong to San Francisco hit a patch of thick fog and crashed against rocks, sending it stern-first into the icy waters.
The chaos that ensued, and the language barrier between the English-speaking passengers and Chinese-speaking crew, hindered the evacuation.
Only 82 people managed to make it into lifeboats, while the rest were pulled to their demise in the mere 10 minutes it took for the City of Rio de Janeiro to slip below the surface.
There were many tragedies over the years, but this one received a special title.
It was the area’s own “Titanic.”
The thrill of the previous discoveries slipped away and was now replaced with a solemn reminder that it wasn’t just timber and iron that loomed below Mary and her team.
Mary wondered if anyone who drove over the iconic bridge knew what was really under them.
There might have been hoards of gold, silver, and tin from trade and transport – riches that continued to elude experts – but there were also the remains of countless ill-fated people.
The Golden Gate Bridge had a “feature” that most people didn’t realize.
Its creation came from the need to put an end to the string of crashes and loss that had spanned all the way back to the bay’s discovery.
Letting The World Know
The foundations of the bridge rest among lingering ghosts and their lost dreams for a better life … or just making it home to their loved ones.
Mary knew the next step she had to take. She needed the city, even the world, to know what was here.