The first evidence that they actually have discovered the Bertrand came when they uncovered some boxes, wooden boxes, that were labeled “Stores Bertrand.” These boxes contain items for the crew. A fantastic amount of cargo was taken from haul of the boat. Almost all of it in excellent condition. The cargo had been packed for the most part in these wooden boxes very carefully. The boxes were staked very carefully in the the haul and when the boat sank the haul was covered over in an airtight mud with then sand and gravel on top.



The mud effectively sealed out the oxygen that would have caused the cargo to decompose. The cargo, although water soaked, was in remarkably good condition.

To give you an idea of what sort of things were found in the cargo, a list of the content reads something like this; all manner of food stuff and that would run from olive oil and olives to tomato preserves and corn and even shelled peanuts, bunches of grape stems that just apparently been loose, so there were fresh grapes. Perhaps, they were raisin that were on the stems. The raisin had disappeared but the stems 161-6114_IMGwere there and they found the shells but no peanuts. The list of contents would go on… of coarse they found the liquored and patent medicine. They found textiles, wearing apparel, sewing supplies. Some of these consisted of silk, braid, burlap bags, buttons, boots, coats, dresses needles, nettings, pins, piping, sweaters, and table cloths. No bars of gold were found.

The park service realized immediately that these items would have tremendous value, not only as antiques but as key items in the “Turning Age.” Other similar items that have been found in other circumstance but whose age was not accurately known could be compared to the Bertrand artifacts. There was found for instance, some 400 cases of medicinal bitters known as Doctor Hostetter’s bitters. Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 5.41.20 PMThis was a medicine with a very high alcoholic content, so high in fact, that it could actually be classified as whisky but classifying it as bitters allowed the makers to legally sell it to the Indians and also avoid liquor taxes. The bottles in which the bitters were kept are probably worth upwards of $50 each now, as antiques, because the authenticity of all of this cargo is actually proven. Nobody can doubt the authenticity of what was found in the Bertrand as you might be about doubting a bottle that you might pick up form an auction.

So the Smithsonian Intuition and museums all around the country were very much interested what was being found on the Bertrand. There was mining supplies such as blasting powered, and detonating devise. Pick axes and shovels and all manner of hardware, all the tools that people in the mining camps might want to buy. Lots of miscellaneous cargo and then all the hundreds of bottles of the medicinal bitters. So the cargo was just almost like a time capsule that had laid dormant for about 100 years and then suddenly came to life. The Bertrand sunk just two weeks before Abraham was assassinated so it goes back to that time in our history. Iowa was still a very young state. So the excavation was then completed in the Fall of 1969.Bertrand_33

It came to its end with out finding any significate treasure like the story suggested except for 9 bottles of mercury. It was packed in cast iron containers that weighed 75 lbs. each. These 9 bottles of mercury were the only thing left that Pursell and Corbino wanted to find. In an effect they were left holding the bottles and the United States government got all the cargo everything that wasworth real value. The textiles and some
of the bottles and everything else that was found.

Post Excavation and Who was involved