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SS George Law and Key West: Ship of Gold with Dr. Brian Magrane

16-February from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM

Distinguished Speaker Series | SS George Law & Key West: Ship of Gold with Dr. Brian Magrane
February 16, 2023 | 6pm – 7pm
Tropic Cinema

In 1856, Yellow Fever was raging in Havana. The United States Mail Steamer, SS George Law, was diverted to Key West (its one and only visit) for refueling with coal. The ship was carrying over $2 million in California Gold ($76 million value today). Peter Burnett, first Governor of California was a passenger whose diary recants this eventful voyage.

This illuminating talk discusses several historical milestones of the 1850s including wrecking along Florida Keys, early Lighthouses, opening of the Panama Railroad, newly designed US $20 gold coins and Side-Wheel Paddle Steamers.

The SS George Law was forced to load coal in Key West due to a yellow fever outbreak in Havana. She had her name changed to SS Central America, which sank soon after the stranding described in this lecture. Her cargo was worth some $1.5 million in gold in 1856!

About the Presenter: 

An Islamorada-based physician and shipwreck coin collector, Dr. Magrane became interested in Florida’s sunken treasures. He has become involved in maritime heritage projects and shipwreck treasure research.

This project is sponsored in part by the Department of State, Division of Arts and Culture, the Florida Council on Arts and Culture and the State of Florida, with additional support provided by The Helmerich Trust. Additional support from Aloys & Carol Metty and The John & Marilyn Rintamaki Family Charitable Fund.


Key West Art & Historical Society
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Tropic Cinema
416 Eaton Street
Key West, FL 33040 United States
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