A gold coin treasure in San Pedro Bay ? – or – Just another tale of Wells Fargo ?

Sunken gold

From The California Numismatist

According to early Southern California lore and legend, there lies a fortune in gold ore, bars and coins still buried deep in the cold murky mud on the ocean bottom of the San Pedro Bay. Much of that gold ore came from the booming mines located in the eastern Mojave Desert and throughout the San Bernardino mountains.

Written accounts at the time of this early Los Angeles “golden treasure tale” read more like a Hollywood movie script complete with mystery, intrigue, murder and a missing treasure — something which might have been written for an episode of one of those old weekly wild-west TV shows from the 1950’s and 60’s such as “Have Gun Will Travel”, “Death Valley Days”, or that combined history legend- based western classic of classics’ series “Tales of Wells Fargo” starring Dale Robertson — rather than any factual account of the true events which took place in San Pedro Bay nearly 150 years ago, when the legendary wild west was very much alive.

Back in the late 1850’s and early 60’s, most of the Southern California landscape which surrounded Los Angeles was a hot, dry, sage-scrub chaparral surrounded by rugged mountains which gave way to an even harsher, drier and foreboding extensive desert region. This raw, wild and woolly western frontier was hardly suitable for homesteaders, towns, agriculture, cattle ranching, or much of anything.

The tiny, sleepy pueblo of Los Angeles had an approximate population of around 6,000. It’s two, tiny, outlying coastal seaport and commerce towns of Wilmington and San Pedro had a combined population total of about 700.

The large commercial seaport city of modern Long Beach with its massive harbor and freight distribution center was not even as yet on the map.

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