146 years ago on the Sunday evening of July 27, 1862 this beautiful beach provided a much different scene. The surf was up that afternoon, viciously beating the shores.
Reflected in the violent waters was the inferno of flames pouring out of a nearby wrecked ship.
The very waves that surfers now carve were strewn with the battered bodies, wreckage, and gold that had fallen overboard.
The screams of the drowning burning men must have been terrible, covered over only by the roar of the unrelenting surf and explosions from the nearby shipwreck.
How did this happen ? It was the middle of the American Civil War. The boat was the S.S. Golden Gate, one of the fastest paddle steam ships on the West Coast.
338 passengers and crew, along with a reported $1.4 million in gold were sailing on a voyage from San Francisco to Panama. They never made it.
When the S.S. Golden Gate was just 15 miles off the shore of Manzanillo Mexico it was reported that there was a fire in the engine room. Since they were only a short distance away from the safety of shore the ship headed towards the beach.
The spot where they landed was at a rock called Pena Blanca.
The passengers were ordered off into lifeboats, but many never made it.
The fire spread rapidly, quickly engulfed the entire ship in an inferno of flames. The survivors were forced to jump overboard, putting themselves at the mercy of the currents and violent waves. Many died in the relentless surf, too weak and injured to make it to shore.
When help finally arrived 204 of the passengers and crew of the S.S. Golden Gate had already died. The ship itself was completely destroyed by the flames and pounding seas.
The massive iron boxes that had contained the golden treasure sunk down into the sand were quickly buried.