Remains of a legendary 17th-century shipwreck that reportedly inspired the cult classic The Goonies have been found—though not by a band of hilarious misfits. Pieces of the hull of the Spanish galleon Santo Cristo de Burgos were raised from sea caves in a state-protected area of Manzanita, Oregon, this week after extensive diving and surveying by volunteers with the Maritime Archaeology Society, National Geographic reports. The wooden trading ship, which traveled across the Pacific Ocean from the Spanish colony of Manila in the modern-day Philippines to New Spain's port of Acapulco in modern-day Mexico, had left Manila carrying Chinese silk, porcelain, and beeswax when it disappeared in 1693.
It is one of just four Manila galleon wrecks identified on the west coast of the Americas and the only one with hull remains, per NatGeo. Oral histories of local indigenous tribes have long told of a foreign ship wrecking on the coast where, centuries ago, Native Americans were trading blocks of beeswax with Spanish markings that had apparently washed ashore. Thousands of shards of Chinese porcelain have also been found. Legends of galleon treasure, common in Oregon's newspapers by the late 20th century, later caught Steven Spielberg's attention and "likely inspired his idea for the 1985 film The Goonies" about a group of kids who discover a treasure-filled galleon in an Oregon sea cave, per NatGeo.
Commercial fisherman Craig Andes had spotted what he thought were ship timbers in sea caves as far back as 2013. In 2020, he asked MAS to test the wood, which turned out to have come from an Asian tropical hardwood felled around 1650. As a geological study carried out near the mouth of the Nehalem River, where the upper deck of a wooden ship had been visible until the 1920s, indicated other flotsam came from beneath and within a layer of sediment deposited by a 1700 tsunami, experts were sure the timbers could only be from the Santo Cristo de Burgos, and were perhaps deposited in the caves by the tsunami. The timbers—claimed by the Spanish government, per the Oregonian—have been moved to a museum while the search for the source of the beeswax and porcelain continues. (Read more shipwreck stories.)