Florida gets a lot of visitors each year, with most of them bound for Miami or Orlando. The whole world knows about Mickey and South Beach. But, there is so much more to Florida. One of my blogging goals this summer, is to share the Florida we know and love. We will do that, by taking you along on our road trips one coast at a time.
Most people think of Florida as East Coast and West Coast. But the state actually has ten very distinct coasts. I borrowed the color coded graphic below from Google Images since a picture paints a thousand words.
Starting on the East side of Florida from the top, you will see First Coast, Space Coast, Treasure Coast, and Gold Coast. Rounding the tip at Homestead, there is Lee Island Coast, (personally, I think they need to change their name) Cultural Coast, Nature Coast, Forgotten Coast and Emerald Coast. I have always wondered if these were just made up names or if there is a significant connection to the area they represent.
As it turns out, there are some pretty interesting details behind the names and we are on a mission to reveal them, as we travel Florida, one coast at a time.
How the Treasure Coast Got It’s Name
As history has it, (pardon my loose interpretation), Spain, did not produce much in terms of goods in the 1500’s and 1600’s and had to rely on buying what they needed from other nations. Obviously, that takes currency, which they also did not have an abundance of. By this time, Columbus had already discovered the New World and Spain was pretty confident that there were riches to be had in the Caribbean and South America. So, they sailed some ships down to Peru to conquer the Incas and steal their natural resources of gold and silver, which they used for the production of coins. Being fairly successful at enriching their coffers, and by having an adept infantry, they made a commanding agreement with the Americas that all merchant trade would be done with Spain only.
Now, France was in a race to settle the New World also, and they were not keen on that agreement. They attempted to thwart Spain’s domination by capturing Spanish treasure ships. Spain figured they needed to protect their ships and came up with the idea of sending fleets down to Peru to transport treasure, goods and passengers. The fleets consisted of several ships, carrying soldiers and big guns, which made it a little harder to capture the treasure ships or interfere with the passenger transports. One of those fleets was the Tierra Firme which consisted of twelve ships. Spain might have been able to out muscle France and protect most of their treasure, but they couldn’t control the weather and on July 31, 1715 the Tierra Firme was caught in a hurricane off the coast of Florida. Eleven of the ships were lost along Florida’s East coast between Jupiter and Sebastian.
During a salvage and recovery period that lasted well into 1716, some of the estimated $30,000,000 in lost treasure was recovered by Spain, pirates, and adventurers. But, most of it stayed at the bottom of the sea.
Over the years, modern day treasure hunters have successfully recovered many millions worth of gold coins and significant artifacts, with the most recent find being in 2015. During that dive, over 1M worth in gold coins were recovered, with one single coin, a Royal, being estimated at $500,000. According to the Mel Fisher Treasurer website, the coin pictured below is valued at approximately $35,000.
In case you are wondering, the State of Florida has rights to 20% of all finds and the remainder becomes joint property of the salvage company (who has rights to the site) and the finder. You can visit the Mel Fisher Museum in Sebastian to see pieces of the recovered treasure and learn more about this famous treasure hunter.
And there you have it. A bunch of Spanish ship wrecks on the bottom of the Atlantic and a whole lot of gold make this the Treasure Coast.
Even if there were no gold at the bottom, we think you would agree that this is the real treasure….the Atlantic ocean. From sunrise to sunset, on a cloudy day or a sunny one, it will take your breath away!
We are a bit partial to the Treasure Coast since this is our home, but every coast is unique and we look forward to showing you more. Next up, the Gold Coast.