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The Catalina Islander
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April 25, 2014     The Catalina Islander
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April 25, 2014
 

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Watson From page 1 Prentiss had left his home, lost his girlfriend, lost all the tools of his trade and very nearly lost his life in two separate shipwrecks, the last of which found him stranded on Catalina. What was this castaway possi- bly going to do now? Why, dig for buried treasure, of course ! Americorps helps keep Catalina beautiful STAFF REPORT An AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps team, Blue 4, consisting of 10 members is currently serving on Catalina Island. The team is partnering with the Catalina Island Conservancy to help maintain the natural beau- ty of the island. The team will be working with the Catalina Island Conservancy in three main areas during their time on the Island. The first area is helping with ecological restoration of the island whereby they will be focusing their efforts on inva- sive non-native species removal. Secondly, the team will also be assisting with a special fencing project in order to help maintain the facilities on the island. Finally, the team's is supporting the Native Plant Nursery to promote native ecological development on the island The Conservancy is in charge of preserving the Island's native flora and fauna in order to con- serve the natural beauty of the island. It is also charged with managing the Island's open space lands and seeing to it that they are solely used for controlled recre- ational purposes and scenic beau- ty. The Conservancy i-s committed to providing public access to the island; it maintains most of the interior roads and the recreational Catalina Airport-in-the-Sky. This is the third project the NCCC team Blue 4, based out of Sacramento, has worked on. They have been serving since October. Their previous projects have included tending to camp mainte- nance in Stayton, Oregon atCamp Taloali and park maintenance at the Salton Sea State Recreation Area in Southern California. The AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps and its FEMA Corps units engage 2,800 young Americans in a full- time, 10-month commitment to service each year. The program is currently cel- ebrating their 20th Anniversary. AmeriCorps NCCC members address critical needs related to natural and other disasters, infra- structure improvement, environ- mental stewardship and conserva- tion, and urban and rural devel- opment; FEMA Corps members are solely dedicated to disaster preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery work. The programs are administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service. It engages more than five million Americans in service through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, For more informa- tion, visit NationalService.gov. The story of Samuel Prentiss and his hunt for a fabled treasure purportedly belonging to an Island chieftain named Turie (or possibly Turia), has all the elemelltS of a great "lost treasure" story. Perhaps too many great ele- ments, in fact, and the truth as we shall see may have been quite dif- ferent from the story that has been handed down through the past two centuries. Nevertheless, it is one of my favorites in a lifetime of pursuing such tales and if only half of it is true it rightfully deserves its place in Island lore. Our story begins on Christmas Eve in 1828 aboard the Yankee brig Danube anchored off the coast of Point Fermin in San Pedro. It was, as they say, a dark and stormy night, and a vic.ious south- easter had sprung up leaving the Danube no time to get underway. She was very quickly run aground and, according to the legend, all hands were lost save four sailors, including our hero Mr. Prentiss. Prentiss, who had left his home- and his sweetheart Back East, had joined the Danube in Peru after deserting an American man-of- war in South America. No doubt, he was feel- ing the Hand of Pro,i- dence at this point. The survivors of the wreck made their way to what passed for civilization on the California coast in those days and Pren- tiss eventually found himself at Mission San Gabriel. Here, it is said, he befriended the dying Chief Turie who di- vulged to him the location of an enormously valuable treasure bur- ied on Catalina Island, reportedly interred in Turie's old stomping Jim Watson Columnist grounds by an English privateer named Sir Thomas Cavendish. Prentiss eventually made his way back to the wreck of the Dan- ube, still strewn about the beaches of San Pedro. Turning his carpentry skills to hand, he fashioned him- self a small sloop in be- tween occasional glances at the distant silhouette of Catalina which he be- lieved held his yet-to-be- discovered treasure. In the Spring of 1829, Prentiss' craft was ready for sea and preparations were made for the voy- age across the channel. However the sea had a few more tricks in store for the young carpenter. Halfway across the channel, it is said, a fickle wind blew his crude treasure map overboard and into the sea. Not satisfied with that, the de- vious Northwesterly winds pro- ceeded to kick up the seas enough to swamp Prentiss' little boat, sending it to the bottom along with all of Prentiss' provisions and car- pentry tools. Prentiss, who was apparently better at swimming than sailing, eventually dragged his weary bones upon the shores of the West End. Foodless, shel- terless and--perhaps most impor- tantly--mapless, Prentiss no doubt scanned the lonely scrub-oak hills of Catalina and wondered what was to become of him. The only thing he remembered from the map was that the treasure was bur- ied "under a tree." Undeterred by this latest catas- trophe, Prentiss rolled up his sea- soaked sleeves and began his new life: a treasure-hunting life that would span another 30 years. NEXT WEEK: The Hunt for Turie's treasure, part 2, There will be free parking available at the Navy base " via the Liberty Gate on Seal Beach Blvd, on the .. west side of PCH. A free shuttle will provide rides to and from the show between 0o% THE CATALINA ISLANDER Friday, April 25, 201415