On 22 February 1901, the SS City of Rio de Janeiro, inbound from Hong Kong in thick morning fog, struck rocks near Fort Point-close to where the now famous Golden Gate Bridge is located-and sank taking with her 128 of the 210 passengers and crew aboard. The sinking was so sudden (due to the catastrophic nature of the damage on the underside) that a nearby lifesaving station was unaware of it for 2 hours. Fortunately fisherman rescued survivors but the captain, William Ward, went down with the ship. Most of the passengers were Chinese and Japanese immigrants but one notable passenger was Rounsevelle Wildman, who was the US Consul General at Hong Kong enroute with his family to Washington D.C. for the innaguration of President William McKinley. He and his family were lost in the sinking. Due to the depth, it was impossible at the time to dive to the wreck. Rumors of gold or silver have persisted despite the cargo manifest showing 2,423 slabs of tin aboard. Bodies of the dead would wash up on the nearby shore for a few years including that of Captain Ward.
Most attempts to locate the wreck failed. One notable claim from 1931 was that it was located via submarine but the person making the claim later disappeared. In 1987 it was announced that it was found and a consortium named Seagamb Inc. would go down, look around, and see if the could find the rumored cargo of silver. While they initially got a permit it was revoked in 1990 because they did not live up to the terms specified. Another problem emerged more recently when another expedition sponsored the National Marine Sanctuaries Maritime Heritage Program (part of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration or known simply as NOAA)to document shipwrecks around San Francisco Bay found a discrepancy in the wreck’s location. The 1980 coordinates differed from U.S. government sonar scans of the area. At any at the problem has been cleared up. And with newer technology much clearer scans of the wreck along with three dimensional images allow us to see this wreck as never before.
1. First Images Of ‘Titanic Of The Golden Gate’ Revealed(11 Dec 2014,CNN)
2. Revealing the Secrets of “San Francisco’s Titanic” (NOAA)