Many reports of mysterious medieval wooden ships found in the middle of the deserts came in the 19th and early 20th centuries from the state of California (USA).
These mysterious ships were regularly stumbled by local Indians, sometimes finding treasures in them.
When we hear the phrase “ghost ship”, we usually imagine an abandoned ship with tattered sails, sailing somewhere in the ocean.
Sometimes these mysterious ships are thrown ashore and there they continue to lie, and gradually get covered with sand.
But how do you explain the sea ships that are found from time to time in the middle of the deserts?
Legends about these ships have been going on for at least several centuries, and none of the eyewitnesses usually could understand how these ships got into the desert.
Did they fall from the sky?
The most famous theory says that all these mysterious ships once sailed on the seas, and then fell on a sandbank and after a while, the sea retreated under the influence of another climatic change.
So the ships, they say, ended up in the sands.
And there really are such cases.
For example, you can see the rusty abandoned ships in the dry Aral Sea or the wreck of the German ship “Edward Bohlen”, which is now rotting in the Namib Desert, after being stranded off the coast in 1909.
However, there is no way to explain the cases when mysterious ships in the deserts are found where there have never been sea or ocean waters in the foreseeable history.
Among urologists, there is a hypothesis that such mysterious ships are victims of alien abduction, for example, from the area of the Bermuda Triangle.
The hypothesis is so popular that at one time it even got into Steven Spielberg’s film “Close Encounters of the Third Degree” (1977).
At the beginning of the film, in the Asian Gobi Desert, a camel caravan accidentally stumbles upon the Cotopaxi motor ship lying in the sands, which disappeared without a trace on November 29, 1925, leaving South Carolina for Havana (Cuba) along a route that ran through the Bermuda Triangle.
Later, according to the plot, it can be understood that aliens were involved in the disappearance of the steamer, who kidnapped the ship’s crew for the purposes they did not name.
“Cotopaxi” in the Gobi Desert. Still from the film “Close Encounters of the Third Degree
Recently, researchers (already in real life, not in the movies) managed to find the remains of a sunken ship at the bottom of the ocean 65 km from the coast of South Carolina, which in many ways matched the description of “Cotopaxi”.
It turns out that the steamer simply sank and no one kidnapped it (if only all mysterious stories ended in the same trite way).
The most famous place in the United States, where mysterious ships are often seen, is the Colorado Desert in the state of California in the southwest of the country.
Likewise, over the past two centuries, reports of abandoned sailboats, thrown as if “from the sky” on the desert rocks, came from the Sonoran Desert, covering the states of California and Arizona.
Local Indians who occasionally stumbled upon these ships described them as abandoned, sun-dried, and half-buried in the sand.
However, by their descriptions, one could easily recognize, for example, the Spanish galleons of the Middle Ages or the Viking ships.
A few times, the Indians dared to climb into the skeletons of abandoned ships and even found treasures there, and sometimes ghosts.
Of course, all this is mostly suitable only for “scary stories” near the fire, but these stories were told not only by adventurers with a rich imagination but also by much more reliable eyewitnesses.
One such story dates back to 1775, when a young mule driver, Tiburcho Mankerna, was hired on the desert expedition of Juan Baptista de Antsa in search of a land route from Sonora to Alta California, Upper California.
One day, the guy accidentally stumbled upon a huge wooden ship with sails, which looked pretty decent, as if it had recently been in the sands.
Mankerna was alone at that moment and there were no other members of the expedition next to him, so he decided to climb inside the ship in order to profit from something.
And inside, he actually came across many chests laden with pearls and gold coins.
“I was sent to the right of the course that day in search of a passable road to the ocean. Traveling at night due to the heat, I came across an ancient ship, in the hold of which there were so many pearls that it is impossible to imagine. Concerned about this wealth, I took what I could carry away and abandoned the comrades.
I headed for the ocean and tried to get as far as my mule could carry me. I hiked the steep western mountains. After finding shelter and food from the Indians, I finally made it to the San Luis Rey mission. Since then I have been looking for this ship all my life. “
However, no matter how many times Mankerna returned to the desert over and over again, he could not find the very ship from which he then took too little treasure.
Either he did not remember the road well, or the ship was completely filled up with sand, or it disappeared as mysteriously as it appeared in the first place.
Another story took place in 1862 after severe flooding occurred due to the overflow of the Colorado River.
When the water finally left, the locals unexpectedly found in a desert area near Dos Palmas (California) an old ship, partially buried in the sand, similar to the same Spanish galleon.
The water of the Colorado River washed away this sand and revealed the skeleton of a ship, which, apparently, lay in these sands for at least several hundred years.
Many people specially came to look at the ship even from afar, as it could be seen clearly from the nearest hill. However, when after a short period, a special group reached there to study the ship, they could not find it.
It is assumed that the location of the galleon was hidden by the waters of the Salton Sea salt lake, which regularly dries up and then refills.
Because of this, it is almost impossible to conduct any excavations in these places.
In November 1870, a man named Charlie Klasker and his friends heard from the Indians about a large sailing ship, which was, according to their description, in the same place of Dos Palmas, but on the other side of Lake Salton Sea. Klasker and his friends went to the area several times and searched for the ship, until they finally found it.
Klassiker described the ship as an ornate Spanish galleon, carrying a lot of luxury items.
They needed a lot of resources to export all this wealth, and they returned to the city to collect more people and carts with mules.
They even wrote about them in the Los Angeles Star:
“Charlie Klasker and his group returned from the desert yesterday just as we were about to go to press. They had a hard time, but they succeeded in their efforts. Ship found! Their party stood without food or water in the scorching sun for more than twenty-four hours and almost died. Today Charlie returns to the desert to reap the fruits of his labors. He is prepared with a good wagon, pack-saddles, and boards to cross the sandy ground. ”
Unfortunately, there is no information about what happened next with the Klasker team.
Because not a word was mentioned about them in the newspapers, and nothing else was heard about them either.
It all looked like Klasker and his team had simply disappeared somewhere in the sands.
Some forest later thereafter, in 1878 about 120 miles northwest of Yuma and 40 miles east of Indio, California, three German prospectors saw a similar “Spanish galleon” in the desert.
One of the prospectors was allegedly so agitated that he fled into the desert in a frenzy to get to him, and never returned.
Oddly enough, when the others searched the area, they could not find a trace of either their comrade or the ship, as if the desert had just swallowed them up.
It was only later when an official search party was combing the area, they did find the man dead and naked in the desert, with no trace of his clothing or ship.
Observations of this ghost galleon continued at the beginning of the 20th century.
One day an Indian arrived in the dusty remote town of Borrego Springs in California and paid in stores for food and drinks with very expensive-looking pearls.
It seemed very strange that the poor desert Indians had such a commodity, and when asked where he got the pearls, he explained that there was a strange wooden “structure” half-buried in the sand full of them.
Local adventurers, having heard about Spanish galleons stuffed with gold in the deserts, rushed in search of another ship, but none of the trips found anything, and the same Indian himself suddenly disappeared somewhere.
In 1907, there is another similar message from a farmer named Niles Jacobsen, who claimed that during a hurricane near his estate in Imperial, California, the remains of a ship were found, from which he then made wooden fence posts.
In 1933, the story of a woman named Myrtle Botts, who was walking with her husband in the Anza-Borrego Desert, was in the newspapers when they stumbled upon a prospector who told them he had found a mysterious ship in the desert on a rocky cliff in Canebrake Canyon.
He told them that the ship was made of wood and a serpentine figure was carved into its prow.
Botts and her husband went looking for this ship and soon found it sticking out of a pile of rocks in the canyon wall.
As soon as they got closer, the earthquake began and they had to retreat.
A subsequent attempt was unsuccessful, as the earthquake completely hid the ship under large stones.
In 1949, three students at the University of California, Los Angeles went in search of a deserted ghost ship.
They had heard from a Cahuilla Indian about a “big boat” in the shape of a snake that he saw in the area in 1917. According to the students, the description matched the Viking ship.
The students were well prepared with irrigation maps from 1910 and various published reports of similar desert ships from the 1800s and set out on a quest from Salada Lagoon in Baja California.
It is unknown what ultimately became of this expedition and whether they ever found what they were looking for.
They just disappeared.