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The Ship Wrecked by Wheat

It wasn’t all that long ago, back in 1961, that a ship was destroyed by the wheat it carried. Not many people know the story today, but it sounds like a real mess.

The S.S. Dominator caused a sensation in the South Bay of Los Angeles when it ran ashore on March 13, 1961 at Rocky Point in Palos Verdes Estates. Stuck there, its cargo load of wheat expanded so much it broke the hull. The captain and his crew had to abandon ship when it started taking on water, and the Coast Guard hadn't been able to tow them out. Then the thing burst into flames. The wet, gloppy, oatmeal-like wheat attracted so many flies, they became a neighborhood nuisance. The flies attracted an invasion of lobsters, which then attracted an influx of swimmers and fishermen. Scavengers tried to salvage whatever valuable materials they could before the Pacific Ocean tide washed it away.

But fascinatingly, that never happened. Over the last 50 years, people have mostly forgotten the Dominator shipwreck, and many born after the incident, or who have recently moved to the area, don't even know how to get to it.

The Los Angeles Obscura Society knows where it is, and went to visit the shipwreck last month. Read what they found, what they found out about it, and see plenty of pictures at Atlas Obscura.

(Image credit: Flickr user Adam Ness)


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