Remains of the Goonies' 17th Century Shipwreck Found on Oregon Coast

A local fisherman recently found pieces of a fabled 17th-century shipwreck that was the inspiration for the film The Goonies near Astoria, Oregon.

Astoria, the location of One-Eyed Willie's legendary shipwreck in the 1985 film, is home to Craig Andes, a local commercial fisherman and hobbyist beachcomber. He found pieces of the real-life ship years ago, stumbling across bits of timber sticking out of the sandy beach, but not until now have samples of his discovery been tested and dated.

In The Goonies, a group of teenagers follow a mysterious treasure map that leads them to an ancient shipwreck filled with treasure, hidden in a secret underwater cave near Astoria.

According to the Daily Astorian, the long-lost timbers uncovered by Andes are thought to have come from the wreck of the Spanish galleon Santo Cristo de Burgos, the inspiration for the booby-trapped ship in the film.

Experts, including Scott Williams, vice president and principal investigator of the Astoria-based Maritime Archaeological Society, were initially skeptical of Andes' claims that the timbers were from a wreck.

Williams now says he was wrong and recognizes the excitement of locals like Andes who have searched for evidence for years.

The reason for the initial skepticism that the wood was from a shipwreck was that the coast near Astoria is shallow, and shipwrecks are not typically preserved in shallow water. However, the water where the shipwreck was found is cold and not as salty thanks to the Columbia River flowing into the ocean nearby, meaning that there are fewer factors that will cause the wood to degrade.

shipwrecks
The shipwreck that inspired the 1985 film "The Goonies" has been found off the Oregon coast. Pictured, a stock image image of wheel and helm on sunken shipwreck Bonaire. iStock / Getty Images Plus

According to the Daily Astorian, the Maritime Archaeological Society thinks that the lower hull of the galleon is still out there, somewhere offshore.

"We haven't found what we would call 'The Wreck,'" Williams said. "We don't know if something like 'The Wreck' exists."

State officials, marine archaeologists and members of the sheriff's department were all involved in hauling in the timbers found by Andes. They will now be studied to determine their origins.

The Santo Cristo de Burgos was built in the Philippines in the 17th century and it left Manila in 1693. The cause of the wreck is unknown, but the current theories involve the ship encountering strong winds in the North Pacific followed by storms closer to the Oregon coast.

It is thought the ship was not able to correct its course after running into the coastal currents that flow north off the Oregon coast in winter due to the Aleutian low-pressure systems. The discovery of larger pieces of timber may now reveal the truth of how the ship came apart, the Daily Astorian reported.

The Goonies
A local fisherman recently found pieces of a fabled 17th-century shipwreck that was the inspiration for the film The Goonies near Astoria, Oregon. Sean Astin, Corey Feldman, Jeff Cohen, and Ke Huy Quan in The Goonies,1985. Warner Bros

Andes was captivated by the legend of the galleon since he was a child, spending hours poring over centuries-old photos and documents. According to the Daily Astorian, when he came across the first piece of the Santo Cristo de Burgos, he was not sure what it was. However, after finding more wooden pieces, he recognized that the timbers were unusually hard and punctured with small square holes, fuelling his suspicions that they were from the very shipwreck he had been searching for all along.

This area of Oregon sees a high number of visitors each year, drawn by the allure of the lost "Spanish gold." The Oregon State Parks department is concerned about increased tourism in the wake of this discovery, as tourists can harm resources and research sites.

"We don't want to miss the chance at answering some long-standing questions about contact between European and tribal communities. We also don't want to harm these possible artifacts, the ocean shore or see people get hurt trying to chase the mystery," Oregon State Parks Department Associate Director Chris Havel told the Daily Astorian.

The Oregon State Parks department is attempting to remove the majority of the timbers from the cave so that they can tell treasure hunters that there is nothing left to investigate. Andes does not agree with this approach, however.

He wants to spread the news amongst other treasure hunters rather than keep it a secret. "They're going to find out about it anyway," he said.