This year’s El Niño has been fairly disappointing in California, with less rain and snowpack than the state needs. But El Niño has accomplished one curious thing: It unearthed a large shipwreck in San Diego County.

The wreck of the SS Monte Carlo is located at Coronado Beach, about 6 miles from downtown San Diego. Earlier this month, drone footage showed off the submerged-but-visible hull:

The Monte Carlo wrecked on Jan. 1, 1937, when a storm shook it free from its moorings. There were only two people onboard at the time, and they both survived.

Prior to that, the ship had been anchored three miles offshore and served as a gambling vessel, according to the Coronado Historical Association. During prohibition, the ship drew crowds looking for booze.

coronado shipwreck 2

After the storm knocked the ship loose, it ran aground on the beach and locals showed up to strip it:

Coronadans by the hundreds flocked to the scene, grabbing gambling tables, roulette wheels, silverware and liquor that washed ashore as the vessel lay pounded by the surf. Although the two crew members managed to get to shore, one sailor swam out to claim salvage and drowned.

The Monte Carlo’s status as an illegal “sin ship” meant that no one wanted to claim it. And so it was left to rot on the beach.

Coronado ship wreck

Stories about El Niño exposing the ship started appearing late last month, and I haven’t been down to Coronado yet to check it out. From the pictures and videos I have seen, it looks like conditions vary somewhat depending on the tides.

Nevertheless, El Niño is ongoing and I suspect there is still time this year to check out the newly-unearthed piece of history.

— Jim Dalrymple II


Written by Jim Dalrymple II

Urbanism and travel writer. Also a journalist covering the news.

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