Wrecking and salvage – the recovery of wrecked ships and their cargos (as well as the rescue of their crews & passengers) - was the foundation of Key West’s economy throughout the 1800’s. By the mid 1850’s, Key West had become the richest city per capita in the entire United States, all due to the wrecking industry.
The Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum celebrates the rich history of the Key West wreckers with two floors of shipwreck artifacts that include treasures from the Spanish fleets of the 1600s and 1700s, as well as a vast collection of pieces from the 1856 wreck of the Isaac Allerton. You can even lift a silver bar salvaged from the Spanish treasure galleon, Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas.
The museum itself is a recreation of 19th century wrecker tycoon warehouse that includes a 65-foot lookout tower. A variety of audio-visual displays (including a below-sea-level theater) create windows into Key West’s past and allow you to experience life as it was for the brave souls who risked their lives to retrieve shipwreck treasures.