In response to the ever-changing COVID-19 situation, and for the well-being of our guests, employees and community, the Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum has announced a temporary closure. We appreciate your understanding on this matter and we will communicate any additional updates or changes as they occur.
full screen background image

When We Say “Wreck Ashore…”

June 3rd, 2013 by Piper Smith

Climb to the top of our 65′ tower and look out for reefs! Let Mr. Asa Tift know if you see anything treacherous for the nearly 100 ships that used to pass by Key West daily during the 18th century. This tower is like the ones that the brave wreckers of their time would climb in order to keep watch over the vessels that passed by the Keys. For when a wreck was spotted and “wreck ashore!” was cried, every wrecker in Key West would race to the reef in order to oversee the salvaging of valuable treasures and goods. The first man to reach the wreck became the wrecking master who oversaw the salvage operation and received the largest share of the spoils–so it was a real race to the prize, dangerous too! Many wreckers would drown in the surf and be fatally injured in the treacherous wrecks!

Wreckers would often trying to salvage while the storm was still raging overhead.

Wreckers would often try to salvage while the storm was still raging overhead.