The Shipwrecked Ring of John C. Calhoun

You can’t erase history, but preserving it can be murky.

This episode’s deep historical dive is literal—to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean where a relic belonging to the family of John C. Calhoun was discovered 61 years after it was lost. We explore the tragic events that led to the Honda Point Disaster—the greatest disaster the US Navy ever suffered during peacetime—along with the story of the man who discovered the find of a lifetime and the target it put on his back. And it all starts with a street in the Sherman Oaks neighborhood of Los Angeles named Calhoun Avenue.

Listen now:

This episode is the story of how seeing this street in my neighborhood:

made me wonder if it could possibly be named for John C. Calhoun, this historical villain:

My search led me to the story of this man, California Wreck Divers club member (and one-time president) Dan Purdie:

who discovered a gold Navy signet ring belonging to this man, William Lowndes Calhoun:

the great-grandson of John C. Calhoun and the captain of the USS Young, which was among several ships lost in The Honda Point Disaster, the greatest peacetime disaster in US Navy history, pictured here:

Join us for a deep dive into these stories and an hour filled with heroism, tragedy, dead reckoning, one of the deadliest earthquakes in modern history, and the first undercover sting operation by the National Park Service in the California waters.

Listen now:

If you like what you heard, spread the word! And consider joining our Patreon community, or signing up to nominate us to be a finalist in the People’s Choice Podcast Awards.


Sea Yields a Treasure From Ship That Went Down 62 Years Ago” by David Haldane, The Los Angeles Times, February 2, 1986
Tragedy at Honda by Charles A. Lockwood and Hans Christian Adamson
October 8, 1987: 87-243 – Channel Island – Looting of Shipwrecks, Channel Islands Incident Reports, NPSHistory.com
The Wreck and the Reckoning” by Christopher Reynolds, The Los Angeles Times, December 27, 1990
Honda Point Disaster – Taking a Wrong Turn at Albuquerque by Drachinifel, YouTube


Leave a Reply