One of the most fascinating shipwreck sites that has ever been discovered, the SS Republic Shipwreck is the main shipwreck that is presented in the museum. This amazing recovery is the largest Civil War treasure trove ever discovered.
History of the USS Republic
The SS Republic had was a coastal trading ship that was en-route to New Orleans from New York Harbor carrying thousands of every day items and silver and gold estimated to be worth $400,000, at the time the ship was loaded in 1865. The purpose of the voyage was to deliver the items to the war ravaged New Orleans area, reinvigorating the economy. Unfortunately, the ship hit a rough storm and after a three-day battle with a hurricane, succumbed to its damages and sank off of the Atlantic Seaboard. When the ship went down, it was carrying 80 passengers, all of whom survived thanks to the lifeboats on board the ship. The ship sank in October of 1865, the same year it was renamed the SS Republic from the Tennessee.
This ship sank to 1,700 ft below the ocean surface and was thought to be lost for nearly 140 years. It was not until Odyssey came along, with their innovative technology allowing them to explore depths that were never before possible, that the shipwreck site was rediscovered. Odyssey began its efforts with retrieving items from the SS Republic in 2003 using brand new technology that completely changed the methods of the time.
Items found on the SS Republic
From everyday items like combs and toothbrushes to one-of-a-kind pieces, the SS Republic was brimming with artifacts from every day life from this time period. These exhibits provide unique insight into how the passengers lived their lives and each item has its own story. Just a few of the objects recovered on this retrieval mission include:
- The original porthole from the SS Republic.
- The original bell from the SS Republic with authentic 'Tennessee' inscription.
- SS Republic coal.
- Children's toys such as dominoes, chess pieces, and a tea set.
- Everyday items such as headbands, pitchers, urns, ink wells, slates.
- Over 6,000 glass bottles featuring everything from ink wells to delicate perfume bottles.
- Never-before-seen collection of intact preserved foods and medicines such as gooseberries, peaches, pepper sauce, mustard, stomach elixir, and hair serums.
- 111 uncirculated Seated Liberty Half Dollars from the late 1850's - 1860's in pristine condition, showing no effects of being in salt water for 140 years.
As well as a variety of unique artifacts, the SS Republic was found to be holding approximately 75 million dollars worth of treasure. There were 51,000 gold and silver coins as well as 14,000 other artifacts that were retrieved from the site. An amazing time capsule of a time significant to the history of our country.