Rescuing Beeswax

Saving the Remains of a 17th-Century Wreck in Oregon
Built in the Philippines, Santo Cristo de Burgos left Manila in 1693 loaded with trade goods and likely wrecked on Nehalem Spit after a journey across the Pacific.
The Beeswax wreck is one of only three known shipwrecks associated with Spain’s transpacific trade with Asia.
The project was sponsored by the National Geographic Society.
State Park rangers, archaeologists, first responders, and SEARCH archaeologists undertook the recovery from the hazardous, surf-lashed sea caves and tide pools along the Oregon coast.

SEARCH led the archaeological recovery of timbers from the hull of the 17th-century Spanish galleon Santo Christo de Burgos, which wrecked on the coast of Oregon with a cargo of beeswax, silks, and porcelain.

Well known to the local Native American tribes, its story persisted through the centuries and ultimately was an inspiration for the 1985 film The Goonies.

The recent discovery of ship remnants in sea caves led to a request to SEARCH’s Dr. James Delgado to organize and coordinate the rescue and documentation of these rare and unique artifacts.

“Hey you guys!” 


Selected media Coverage

Feature story in National Geographic (July 2022)

News of the discovery reached millions via outlets such as National Geographic, The New York Times, NPR, and CNN.

Subject of an episode of National Geographic’s international TV series Drain the Oceans

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