Excavation of Bertrand Cited From: Steamboat Bertrand Collection

So in the ensuing years several attempts were made to find the Bertrand. None were successful until the early spring of 1968 when two Omaha entrepreneurs,  Sam Corbino and Jesse Pursell, drilled down through the sand and gravel on what is now the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge. The dill bit brought up raw pieces of glass, metal and wood. The took this as an indication that they found the boat and entered into a contract with the US General service administration under which  were to get 60% of any mercury, gold or whiskey that they found. The rest of the cargo, whatever was found, was to go to the government of the United States since the boat had been found on US property in the National Wildlife Refuge.


So during in spring and summer of 1968 Corbino and Pursell brought in heavy equipment; drag lines and bulldozers. They gradually cleared off the over sand until 28 feet below the surface they came upon the haul of the boat itself. They installed two powerful deasil pumps that were needed to keep the water tabled down to a specific level.  Otherwise, the pit would be flooded. These pumps had to be working continuously during the entire exploration. The pit extended considerably beyond the dimensions of the boat of coarse, in order to prevent land slides.


Cited from: Peach Ridge Glass

They uncovered the bow first and gradually stripped the planking from the haul and started taking out the cargo. The excavation was under the direction of the National Park Survive. The Park Serves supervise the entire operation and controlled how it was handled so the cargo would be damaged as little as possible. Therefore, there was no secrecy involved in the in the excavation. It was all done in the opened and the Wildlife Refuge Administration constructed a lookout for the public could see what was going on down below.

The two men put all the money into the excavation and the overall amount at the end was over some $100,000 dollars. They worked through out the summer and fall of 1968 then had to stop for the winter and picked up in the spring of 1969 and were able to complete the excavation late in the fall of 1969. A fantastic amount of cargo was taken from haul of the boat.

Excavation and the Cargo