The SS Central America once held so much gold that the ship's sinking triggered a national financial panic in 1857, but is there any gold left among its watery ruins? Deep-sea exploration firm Odyssey Marine Exploration is betting there is, even though a treasure hunter brought $52 million in gold back from the fabled wreck in 1988 (and subsequently stiffed his team of technicians), Fox News reports. The company believes the wreck 160 miles off the South Carolina coast still holds $86 million in gold—as well as the bodies of 425 passengers and crew who went down with the ship. And Odyssey arrived at the site this week with an 8-ton remotely operated vehicle that will dive to the ocean floor.
"The SS Central America is one of the greatest shipwreck stories of all time," Odyssey’s CEO said in a statement. "We’re very familiar with mid-19th century paddlewheel shipwrecks, as well as the range of artifacts that are likely to be on the site." Skeptics, however, suspect the firm will come up empty-handed—unless rumors of a secret cache of military gold on board are true. "The only way it is a home run project is if they found this secret army gold," an investor who is selling Odyssey stock short tells Bloomberg. "Otherwise, they are literally picking coins out of the skeletons of 425 dead passengers." (Odyssey managed to make a major discovery in 2013 involving silver bullion.)