Sebastian is located at the northern tip of the Treasure Coast at the center of the Florida east coast. A sign at the entrance of the city reads, “Welcome to Sebastian, Home of Pelican Island, friendly people and six old grouches” — indicative of a community not only with a sense of humor, but the first designated wildlife refuge in the country.
In 1715, several Spanish ships loaded with treasure encountered a storm off the shores of the Treasure Coast and were lost. It is estimated that only a portion of the sunken treasure has been found. The value placed on the treasure lost from the 1715 fleet has been estimated at over $500 million USD.
The town was a fishing village as early as the 1870s. In the early 1880s David Peter Gibson, and Thomas New settled in the area. New filed to start a post office under the name New Haven. However, New got into legal trouble for misuse of his position as postmaster and was removed. As a result, Sebastian was officially founded in 1882 and named St. Sebastian, after Saint Sebastian. Later, “St.” was removed from the name of the town, but not from the river. It was incorporated as a city in 1923. Nearby Pelican Island was declared the United States’ first National Wildlife refuge in 1903.
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Here is a short video I made for you guys so you can see how special this place is.
- An outstanding number of awesome beaches including many protected state and national parks.
- Plenty of onshore activities.
A brief history
Its name comes from a fleet of Spanish ships that sailed too close to the area back in the 17th century. It was one of many fleets used to transport treasures so they could be delivered back to Spain.
A week after departing, a violent hurricane struck the fleet. The crew got stuck in the Bahama Channel and had no way to escape. Eleven of the twelve ships were struck and ultimately sank. Most of the crew members did not survive, and the pieces of gold, silver, and jewelry fell to the bottom of the ocean.
One ship did manage to survive the hurricane. The crew members aboard the ship were able to escape the storm. They ended up on the Florida coast.
Don Francisco Salmon, the fleet’s admiral sent some men inland to find help. Others tried to make a new boat. Some of the survivors attempted to recover pieces of the lost treasure. It was a fruitless venture. The strong currents continued to move the gold and jewels around the seafloor.
Rumors of lost treasure would soon spread, and ships would come from all around to seek it.
In the 1950s, another hurricane swept through the area and blew away the local sand dunes around the Sebastian Inlet. It revealed parts of the sunken ship from the 1715 Treasure Fleet. Following the discovery of the Treasure Fleet shipwrecks, several interesting treasures were discovered along the coast.
John J. Schumann Jr. and Harry J. Schultz of the Vero Beach Press Journal were the first people to coin the term “Treasure Coast.” They used the term to describe the coast since treasure hunters starting coming in to recover the lost Spanish treasure from the nearby waters.
You could come and find buried treasure or discover a treasure of your own!
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