It was to be a normal trading voyage upon a normal trading ship. The Santo Cristo de Burgos, a Manilla-class trading galleon meant for high seas and big cargo, was setting out across the northern Pacific with a hull full of beeswax, Chinese porcelain, and silk for markets in Mexico, when a disaster of some kind lost the ship.
Seven years later, an earthquake of about 9.0 Richter swallowed the sea along the Oregon coastline, before spitting it back upon the shore in a terrifying tsunami; which just so happened to gather up the downed Spanish galleon and its lost cargo before throwing it against the rugged coast.
The Astoria Oregon all-volunteer Maritime Archeological Society (MAS), who—inspired by local legends of sunken treasure, oral tales from the Nehalem Indians about a burning ship and its survivors, and beachcombing locals routinely finding shards of porcelain—decided to follow the trail of the ‘Beeswax Wreck’ to the end.
“Spanish archival records of the galleon trade list only one galleon sailing from Manila to Acapulco as missing during this time period: the Santo Cristo de Burgos,” write MAS. “We also know, from Nehalem Indian oral histories, that some of the crew survived the wrecking and lived with the coastal Indians for some time, leaving behind descendants whose families continue to this day.”