The Historical Preservation Society of the Upper Keys will present the story of the mystery ship, the SS Valbanera, at 7 p.m. at Coral Isles Church, MM 90, oceanside, on Plantation Key.
Matthew Lawrence, maritime archaeologist with the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, will discuss the history and archaeology of this dramatic event which saw the greatest loss of life in Keys history from a shipwreck.
Florida Keys history and hurricanes are intimately entwined. Many storms have left a lasting mark on the area, but there are few touchstones that vividly demonstrate the power of wind and waves like shipwrecks. The lost Spanish fleet disasters of 1622 and 1733 are physical reminders of their respective storms, but the loss of the Spanish steamship Valbanera in the 1919 hurricane is often forgotten. Sinking south of Key West in 25 feet of water in an area known as the “Quicksands,” with 488 souls on board, all lives aboard this mystery ship were lost with not a single bone fragment ever recovered.