Meet the editorial board of The Coronado News. Photo by Madeline Yang.

America in the 1920s and 30s was a cocktail of deep revelry, the unwelcomed Prohibition and the Great Depression. 

However, one place managed to escape it all.

Floating in international waters, a concrete ship, the SS Monte Carlo, was anchored 3 miles offshore from Coronado.

And this Sunday, around 3 p.m., is likely the ideal opportunity to see the washed up icon in her final resting place right outside The Hotel del Coronado, according to Coronado lifeguard captain Sean Carey.

He noted the tide calendar shows San Diego County beaches will be experiencing the lowest tides all year, allowing the viewing of the ship.

Rule breaker

Settled just far enough away from law enforcement, the SS Monte Carlo was a haven for breaking rules.

Gambling, drinking and prostitution lived on board; and whether she was seen as a heaven or a hell, she often was frequented. 

She made a name for herself on the California coast for a good part of the 1930s, and has now made a name for herself almost a century later as the concealed shipwreck in Coronado. 

Mysteriously hidden away under high tides and drifting sand, the elusive ship is only seen every few years when the oceans permit. 

Oil tanker to casino

Historical records show the Monte Carlo was a concrete ship approved for construction under President Woodrow Wilson during World War I and had known many names and occupations, originally commissioned as an oil tanker for the U.S. military.

She was purchased to be used as a commercial oil tanker in 1923, where she stayed for the next decade before coming into her last and final personality: the ungovernable sin ship. 

Operated by infamous rumrunner Tony Cornero, he was known for his crooked lifestyle and…his floating casinos. 

The Monte Carlo moved to Long Beach in 1932, where she partied for the next few years as part of a fleet of gambling ships before finally settling in Coronado for her last year. 

Escape to Coronado

She evaded the law even until after her death on the shores of Coronado.

When she escaped her anchor on New Year’s Day 1937 due to a storm, the ship eventually grounded on the beach, and no one claimed her.

She was a sinking pit of crime and felony and evidence of that had washed ashore.

No one wanted to be incriminated, associating themselves with the once grand and glorious Monte Carlo. 

At just about 300 feet long and made of concrete, she was too big and heavy to be moved.

The ocean claimed her, giving her a natural burial – and like most buried things, in time, they become unearthed. 

Now, almost 90 years later, visitors can once again enjoy her for just a few hours this Sunday. 

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Madeline Yang is a reporter for The Coronado News, covering the City of Coronado, the U.S Navy and investigating the Tijuana/Coronado sewage issue. She graduated from Point Loma Nazarene University with her Bachelors in Journalism with an emphasis in Visual Storytelling. She loves writing, photography and videography and one day hopes to be a filmmaker. She can be reached by phone at 916-835-5843.

The Coronado News is a 24-hour news website and direct-mail free newspaper to all residents and businesses of Coronado as we cover city government, schools, businesses, entertainment and the Navy.