From the Book
In September 1857, the SS Central America, a side-wheel steamer carrying nearly six hundred passengers returning from the California Gold Rush, was caught in a hurricane two hundred miles off the Carolina coast. Despite the heroic efforts of Captain William Herndon and his crew, the ship and over four hundred lives and twenty-one tons of California gold were lost. It was the worst peacetime disaster at sea in American history.
In a riveting narrative that combines historical adventure and scientific discovery, Gary Kinder re-creates the ill-fated voyage, and then tells the incredible story of a young engineer from Ohio, Tommy Thompson, who in the 1980s set out to find the wreck of the Central America and salvage its treasure almost two miles down on the ocean floor. Kinder chronicles Thompson’s epic quest for the lost vessel, an enterprise marked by hair-raising weather, the hostility of the deep ocean at eight thousand feet, highly experimental technology, and unscrupulous rival treasure hunters. The result is an extraordinary tale of the human drama, heroic rescue, scientific ingenuity, and individual courage.