Lesson 23.5: Reading Connection

Learn More

Sunken Treasure

Shipwreck!

Have you ever wondered if there really is such a thing as a sunken treasure? The divers who work for the Odyssey Marine Exploration Company can prove that there is. They recently uncovered one of the greatest treasures ever found. It was buried deep in the ocean in the wreck of a ship that sank in 1865.

The S.S. Republic was a paddle-wheel steamship. It left New York and was traveling south in the Atlantic Ocean bound for New Orleans. The ship was carrying passengers and cargo. The cargo included many everyday things like dominoes, shoes, children's writing slates, and coins—a great many coins.

Along the way the ship ran into a hurricane. Two days of wrestling the strong winds and rain was too much for the ship. It could no longer fight against the wrath of the storm. Although most of the crew and passengers were saved, the ship with all its cargo sank 1,700 feet to the bottom of the sea.

Coins Still in Excellent Condition

For many years no one thought that the wreck could be recovered. And, no one succeeded in recovering it until Odyssey Marine took on the job. The company's ROVs (remotely operated vehicles), which were lowered to the bottom of the sea, did most of the underwater exploring.

Over 50,000 gold and silver coins have already been recovered. The divers picked up the coins one by one and wrapped them carefully so as not to scratch them. About 1,000 coins were recovered each day. Most of the coins are gold Coronet Head $20 Double Eagles, gold Coronet Head $10 Eagles, and silver Seated Liberty half-dollars. Most of the coins date from the 1840s up until 1865. And, amazingly, most are in excellent condition.

The Future

Who does the treasure belong to? A judge has ruled that the Odyssey Marine Exploration Company, having recovered the treasure, rightfully owns the remains of the ship and everything found in it, including all the coins. John Morris, the company's chief executive officer, said that the money would be used for developing exhibits about the recovery and for searching for other shipwrecks that may contain treasures now hidden beneath the sea.

Word Wise

wreck:
Something that has been destroyed by an accident or force of nature: The wreck of a rowboat washed up on the beach.

cargo:
Load of objects carried by a vehicle from one place to another: Some cargoes travel by sea, while others travel across land or by air.

hurricane:
A storm marked by heavy rains, strong winds, lightning, and thunder: The force of the hurricane toppled trees and broke windows all over town.

wrath:
Great anger: Mr. Greg was full of wrath when he saw the hole in his garden fence and small bites taken out of his vegetable plants.

recover:
Take something back: When I realized that I lost my keys, I walked back to school and recovered them on the sidewalk.

remains:
What is left after something has been destroyed: After the sun shone all day, we looked out and saw the remains of yesterday's snowman.

Back to Article

Activity

Two of the Word Wise words—wreck and wrath—begin with the letter w. But when you say each of these words, you don't hear the sound of w. Instead, you hear the sound of the second letter, r.

What other words begin with wr? There is one other wr word in the article. Can you spot it?

Use a dictionary to find four more wr words. Write each of these words and their meanings on a piece of paper.

Data Hunt

You have read that there were about 50,000 gold and silver coins found on the S.S. Republic. All those coins were from the 1800s and are no longer used as currency today. Here's a math challenge involving coins that we use every day. How many different ways can you think of to make 25¢ using pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters? Work with a partner or a group to find out.

Here's what to do:

  1. Work with a group.
  2. Put together a collection of coins or coin models. You will need 25 pennies, 5 nickels, 5 dimes, and 2 quarters.
  3. Use the coins to make 25¢. Write down the coins you used, and the number of each. For example: 1 dime, 2 nickels, and 5 pennies.
  4. List as many coin combinations as you can. Make an organized list to record the combinations.