Diamond News

There’s a mysterious spot about 20 miles off South Carolina where centuries-old gold coins have been found strewn across the ocean floor for decades.

It’s believed to be the final resting place of the SS North Carolina, a steamship that historians say sank in 1840 under bizarre circumstances.

In November -- 178 years after the ship went down -- an expedition is being launched to “reconfirm with absolute proof” the wreck’s identity and unravel the mystery of why the North Carolina seemingly sank itself by heading straight into the path of another ship.

But make no mistake: It’s the stories of gold coins the are driving the expedition.

Project partners Blue Water Ventures International and Endurance Exploration Group are convinced hundreds of highly prized gold and silver coins are still on the wreck, promising a big pay off.

The SS North Carolina sank so quickly that few of its affluent passengers could gather their belongings before boarding a rescue ship, say the organizers. Among the passengers was a businessman who reportedly lost $20,000 in gold pieces, says Blue Water Ventures International.

“You can imagine what they would be worth now,” said Keith Webb of Blue Water Ventures. “Some of these coins are extremely rare and would help fill in gaps when it comes to the history of American coins. We know of 10 gold pieces that were recovered at the site years ago, and they sold for $70,000 each.”

Artifacts could start coming up in the next few weeks, as divers map the site and do an archaeological survey, Webb said. However, the bulk of the discoveries will likely be in May or June, the traditional diving season, he said.

The site, known among scuba divers as “The...

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