Shipwreck Believed to Have Inspired The Goonies Found Off Oregon Coast

In Steven Spielberg’s 1985 film The Goonies, kids who lived in the “Goon Docks” neighborhood of Astoria, Oregon, armed themselves with a map and went on a desperate search for legendary pirate One-Eyed Willy’s long-lost treasure. This past June, a team of volunteers unearthed over 20 pieces of wood in a cave off the Oregon coast that actually turned out to be wreckage from a Spanish galleon called the Santo Cristo de Burgos, also known as the Beeswax Wreck. Coincidentally, Steven Spielberg was so fascinated by the Spanish galleon that he set The Goonies in Astoria, Oregon, where remnants of the wreck have washed ashore for centuries.


According to Scott Williams, president of the Maritime Archaeological Society, an Oregon-based organization that worked on excavating the wreck, after the vessel capsized in 1693, locals found pieces of cargo washed ashore, including chunks of beeswax. Williams added that a local Oregon resident, who heard stories of the Beeswax Wreck since he was a child, was out searching for agate gemstones along the coast when he found some of the timber a few years ago. The local’s belief that the beams had to be more than mere driftwood paid off.

Steven Spielberg and The Goonies Were on to Something

Warner Bros. Pictures

Due to COVID-19 delays and the time it took to secure the correct permits, it would be almost two years before a team could organize and excavate the remaining known timbers. The team found the timbers in a rocky area at the base of sea cliffs that were only exposed at very low tides, and based on their size and shape, Williams’ team thinks the pieces made up parts of the ship’s lower hull, such as the ribs or supports, as well as the upper hull’s decking. Researchers believe the timbers came from the Santo Cristo de Burgos that capsized near Astoria, Oregon, while sailing from the Philippines to Acapulco, Mexico. Countless explorers and settlers in the region wrote of the wreck and the cargo pieces they had discovered in the centuries that followed.

Williams said that while the Beeswax Wreck may not be overflowing with gold, there are many similarities between it and the ship from The Goonies, given its location on the Oregon coast and the mystery surrounding its fate. He added that the team will look for more parts of the wreck using magnetometers and sonar. CNN has reached out to Amblin Entertainment, Inc., Steven Spielberg’s production company, about the discovery, but Amblin representatives have not responded for comment.