New York Harbor

Looking back: A treasure ship runs ashore in Ocean City

The Sindia, a British trade ship, is buried in the surf at Ocean City

By Joe Ryan

On Dec. 15, 1901, a four-masted ship heading for New York Harbor with $1 million in silk, porcelain and a rumored golden Buddha got lost in a blizzard and ran ashore in Ocean City, where it sank into the sand and left generations dreaming of sunken treasure.

The Sindia was on the last leg of a voyage from Kobe, Japan, when she beached at 17th Street shortly after midnight. Rumors that the crew was drunk quickly spread and were later debunked as the ship vanished under the shifting sands.

In the decades since, powerful tides have sometimes revealed Sindia's masts, tiller post, hull, or capstan. Each ghostly re-appearance has left beachgoers wondering.

Does the Sindia's hull hide the rumored statue of Buddha cast in gold and other priceless artifacts said to have been looted from temples in China during the chaotic aftermath of the Boxer Rebellion ?

A handful of attempts to excavate the ship have failed. The state dedicated its sandy grave as a historical site in 1969. And on Christmas Eve, 1970, the last surviving member of her crew, David Jackson, died in Philadelphia at the age of 90.