Recent El Niño Storms unearthed a 1930’s shipwreck mystery off the coast of Coronado, California. The ship originally crashed onto Coronado shores on January 1, 1937, dubbed the “sin ship” – was a floating gambling casino ship called the SS Monte Carlo. The ship itself was full of mysteries and excitement. Here are 10 things you might not know about this newly unearthed shipwreck in Coronado.
1. The SS Monte Carlo, a 300-foot ship, was originally a concrete and iron oil tanker launched in 1921 bearing the title SS McKittrick.
2. In the early 1930’s, Southern California mobsters acquired the ship and by 1936 it was a fully operating hub for gambling and prostitution off the coast of Long Beach. After much harassment from the authorities, they settled off the coast of Coronado, California.
3. How was this even possible? The Monte Carlo was anchored in international waters, about 3 miles off Coronado Beach in San Diego – well outside the boundaries of state and federal laws.
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5. Purportedly, Hollywood stars such as Clark Gable and Mae West would frequent the ship. Which is no surprise since the Hotel Del has a long history of Hollywood royalty frequenting the hotel.
6. San Diego evangelists would devote entire sermons to the ship and its demise.
7. The “sin ship” crashed in front of what is now the El Camino Tower of the Coronado Shores condos during a storm on New Year’s Day in 1937. Once it crashed onto land, no one claimed ownership because, once on land, the gambling ship was technically illegal. That was until 2014, when the grandson’s owner, Stephen Turner, claimed ownership of the boat.
8. SS Monte Carlo was not the only gambling ship along the SoCal coast. From 1927-1939 as many as ten gambling ships have been reported to exist along the coast between San Diego and Long Beach – ships named the Lux, the Rex, the Johanna Smith, the Rose Isle and the Monte Carlo are a few known gambling ships to have existed.
9. The wreckage, located about half a mile from the Hotel Del, can be seen underwater at low tide, and is occasionally exposed during strong storm tides, similar to the ones we encountered over the past weeks.
10. Myths and legends: Legend has it that there might be $150,000 worth of silver dollar coins remaining in the wreckage, according to the late Bud Bernhard who retrieved hundreds of dollars from the shipwreck as a child. “I’m convinced there is $100,000 in gold and silver coins deep in that wreck,” he once said.
Feeling adventurous? Check out these 9 shipwrecks that can still be seen along the California Coast.
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