, 2022-12-23 00:40:58,
The S.S. Pacific was packed full of passengers in 1875. It was charting the first steamship voyage from Seattle to San Francisco, before Washington had even achieved statehood. But after a collision with a sailing vessel called The Orpheus, the Pacific and its cargo was lost.
Now after decades of searching, two local researchers think they’ve found it.
The wreck has also fired up imaginations because of rumors that it was carrying millions of dollars’ worth of gold. But for researchers Jeff Hummel and Matt McCauley, the story behind the Pacific is what captured their imaginations back in the 1980s.
The two met at high school on Mercer Island in 1979. Rumor had it that Hummel knew about a sunken plane that his late father had seen crash from his job at the Renton Boeing plant. McCauley had just received scuba certification, and together, they devised a plan to pull the plane up from the seafloor.
The two friends knew the Navy had ownership over crash sites, but they figured out that this particular plane was intentionally discarded. In preparation, they wrote to the Navy to get approval, who responded that they were unaware of any protocols around intentionally discarded planes.
“We got a letter from the Pentagon,” Hummel recalled. “And we thought yeah, that was pretty good.”
To McCauley and Hummel, that was a green light. Using old air hoses they gathered from gas stations and connected lift balloons, they could pump air down to the lakebed…
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