HAUNTED FORT JEFFERSON Dry Tortugas National Park


Investigation Team:  Shane Miller,  Dave Miller

Investigation Date:  2011

We found incredible, compelling evidence that I cannot explain. We were camping and scuba diving in Key Largo, Islamorada and Key West. Shane and I booked passage on the Yankee Freedom II for the 70 mile (almost half way to Cuba), 2 1/4 hour ride to Dry Tortugas from Key West traveling at 30 knots.

HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE: The first European to see the eleven small keys was Ponce de Leon in 1513. He caught 160 sea turtles there and called the islands “Tortugas” meaning turtles. They are called “Dry” owing to the absence of fresh water. Dry Tortugas is famous for abundant sea life, coral reefs, birdwatching, shipwrecks and Fort Jefferson, a massive but unfinished coastal fortress. The fort is the largest masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere with its 8 foot thick walls composed of over 16 million bricks. The second tier of the fort was left unfinished as the weight of the bricks in some sections made the fort sink in the small key. The fort is accessible only by boat or seaplane.

Fort construction started in 1846. A lighthouse was added as this dangerous but lucrative shallow shipping channel between the Gulf and the Atlantic Ocean was an important waterway but a navigational hazard for ships. The fort served to protect shipping lanes with its 1,700 military personnel and hundreds of cannons. It also served as a Civil War prison with some famous prisoners arriving in July 1865 – Dr. Samuel Mudd and three others convicted of conspiracy in the assassination of President Abe Lincoln. Dr. Mudd had set the broken leg of John Wilkes Booth and harbored him overnight. Soldiers marched and trained in the broiling sun. Surrounded by death, disease and suffering, one officer’s wife described Fort Jefferson as “a dark, mean place”.

At the end of the war in 1865, the fort’s dwindling population was 468 soldiers and 527 prisoners. All food, water and supplies had to be shipped in. In Sept. 1867 the yellow fever (mosquitoes) epidemic hit the fort as 275 of the 400 soldiers and prisoners were affected with 38 dying. Dr. Mudd provided much-praised medical care and was pardoned by President Andrew Johnson. Due to hurricanes, the hot climate, yellow fever and no water the fort was abandoned in 1888.

PARANORMAL CLAIMS:  Shane and I and all of the boat passengers took the ranger led educational tour of the fort. Since I was Parks & Recreation Director for 30+ years I made quick friends with the National Park staff. After the tours, the group had four hours to hit the small football field sized beach for swimming, snorkeling and relaxing in the 85 degree weather. I stayed behind, interviewed park staff and read some soldier and prisoner diaries. Fort Jefferson was a summer only job. National Park staff worked six days straight sleeping in the fort, took the ship back to Key West and then had six days off while eight new staff took over. The four staff I interviewed had worked the fort at least four summers or more. They had interesting, unexplainable ghostly encounters. In the old bakery area, smells of bread, clanging of pots and footsteps; in the wooden barracks where military officers and their families lived they hear children laughing and footsteps running through the fort; partial apparitions or full body apparitions of both soldiers and prisoners are often seen; voices coming from Dr. Mudd’s cell; near a grave on the grounds inside the fort where a popular young officer was buried, a full body apparition of him in seen, plus the crying of a female and children; footsteps heard day and night down the long corridors.

The Investigation: After the interviews, Shane and I headed to the small beach and snorkeled. We saw some nice size barracuda, angelfish and lots of smaller, colorful fish. I returned by myself to the fort (as Shane wanted to snorkel more) with two hours remaining before the 4pm boat departure back to Key West. No other tourist was in the hot fort during this time. Everyone was on the beach or in the water. The prison walls were so thick it was dead quiet. I sat on the floor in the former bakery (Photo#5 – looking out the bakery window at the moat), snapping an occasional photo and tape recording but no findings. The fort was six sided with each of the six bastions (Photo#3 & #4) or end rooms projecting farther out. I sat in the darkened bastions and took random photo’s. Some hallways were very dark, some lighter as the sun’s rays glistened through the small windows or gunnery holes. It was quiet and creepy. I sat just outside Dr. Mudd’s cell (Photo#6) and closed my eyes and listened. I heard two footsteps ten feet away. I slowly turned and took several photos down the darkened hallway. The time was around 3:05pm. No one was there. It wasn’t until two weeks later when my photos were developed (I was using disposable cameras with film and not digital cameras) that I noticed a girl in period clothing (circa 1860’s) standing with her back to me down the long corridor between bastion #3 and #4 (see photo number 1). My best visual evidence ever. No one from the tourist group was even back in the fort that afternoon while I was there. That apparition of a girl is not a national park female staff member either. I had no other evidence from my afternoon investigation.

I returned back outside and Shane and I sat on the bow of the boat for the 2 1/4 hour ride back. We saw hundreds of flying fish and at least four sharks on the way back.



HAUNTED WAVERLY HILLS SANATORIUM Expedition #2 Louisville, Kentucky

Investigation Team:  Dave Miller, Matt Miller, Robbie Helberg

Investigation Date:  June 2010

This was the second of five investigations to one of the top five scariest haunted sites in America. The Sanatorium looked foreboding as we pulled up at dusk for the 11pm to 6:30am investigation.

HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE:  Tuberculosis (also called TB or the White Death) ravaged America in the 1800’s & early 1900’s. Terrifying, contagious and with no cure, it claimed entire families and towns. Built on low swampland, a breeding ground for disease, Louisville had one of the highest TB death rates. In 1910 a hospital was built to combat the disease, enlarged in 1926 to its current structure. The hospital consists of five floors and the infamous “body chute”. Thousands died here in pain and hopelessness, hence the prolific amount of paranormal activity. The hospital closed in 1961 but reopened in 1962 as a Geriatrics Sanitarium. Rumors of patient mistreatment and unusual experiments including electroshock therapy were reported. Many cases were true and the state closed the facility in 1982.

Often, treatment for the disease was as bad as TB itself. Some of the experiments conducted in search for a cure seem barbaric by today’s practice. Here are three horrible treatments:
(1) Expose the patients lungs to ultraviolet light to stop the spread of bacteria. This was done in sun rooms, on the roof or on the open air porches even when it was cold and snowing.
(2) Surgically implant balloons in the lungs and fill them with air. This was disastrous.
(3) Surgically remove the ribs and muscles to allow the lungs to expand further. Ineffective & horrible.

Patients who survived the disease and treatments left by the front door. Those who died left by the 485 foot long, concrete “body chute” or “death chute”. Bodies were lowered in secret to waiting trains to be cremated. This was done so patients would not see how many were leaving the hospital as corpses.

PARANORMAL CLAIMS: There are so many sightings and stories and the hospital is so large that I will just focus on one area or floor in each of my four adventures here. Today, we will concentrate on the 5th floor. Paranormal claims: in room 502 allegedly a doctor had an affair with a nurse and she became pregnant, a real scandal in the 1930’s. She jumped or was pushed from the window in 502. Female voices, crying, a ghostly apparition in white and footsteps are reported. A large room and the deck containing play equipment was a babysitting or play area for youth who were patients or whose parents were dying downstairs of TB. Children’s voices, footsteps, crying and shadow figures have been recorded.

INVESTIGATION:  My goal as an investigator is to be a “Doubting Thomas“, try to explain and debunk everything. Anything left is good evidence. Sometime you obtain unexplainable evidence and sometimes you come up with nothing. The true fun is the adventure, the hunt. Fearless, stalwart investigators Matt & Robbie comprised our investigation team. This hospital is flat out spooky especially when you investigate dark wings and rooms by yourself. We spent seven hours investigating every floor and the body chute. On the 5th floor we spent significant time in room 501 & 502 but no findings. In the children’s area, we used trigger objects such as balls and toy cars to elicit responses. Our best toy was a wood paddle with an elastic band attached to a ball. If anyone touched the sensitive ball it would light up.

Several findings on this trip. In the children’s play area on the 5th floor, a few times when posing verbal questions to the “ghost children”, some form of energy touched the ball connected to the paddle and the ball would light up. Days later when playing back the tape recorders, Matt and Robbie caught on other floors several items not heard at the time of the investigation: a child’s voice, a woman’s voice and a dog bark. Just before dawn we encountered some lighting and light rain which added to the creepy, eerie, dark feeling of this hospital.

DIVING THE BENWOOD Expedition #2 Key Largo, Florida


Dive Team:  Dave Miller, Holly Miller, Shane Miller

Dive Date:   April 5, 2010

HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE:  The Norwegian merchant freighter Benwood and the American steam tanker Robert C. Tuttle collided on the night of April 9, 1942. Rumors of German U-Boats in the area forced both ships to travel completely blacked out. The Tuttle was damaged but survived. The Benwood turned to make shore but sank.

DIVE FINDINGS: Four years later we returned. This was our second expedition diving on this World War II wreck and Holly & Shane’s first wreck dive. It was also Holly’s first dive at age age 16.  It was a beautiful morning, 77 degrees, sunny, good underwater visibility at 40 feet for our 51 minute dive. Descending to a 45 foot depth, we were greeted with an eerie underwater setting created by the huge aft section of the wreck that looms sharply upward off the ocean floor. The maze of steel wreckage provides a haven for large numbers of fish from small tropical to large grouper. Swimming over the top of the wreck hiding in the steel ribs and coral were blue parrotfish, wrasses, sergeant majors, trumpet fish, blue tangs and butterfly fish. Swimming down to the sandy ocean floor on the starboard side, we sighted a barracuda staring at as with its evil eye and sharp teeth. Holly then spotted a sting ray hiding in the sand which rose and swam away as we approached. Schools of 10 to 40 grunts, snappers or jacks clustered along the side or on top of the wreck. For their first wreck dive Holly & Shane did great and enjoyed all of the aquatic life.

I included a photo taken in 2014 just north of Ormand Beach, Florida of a WWII Coastal Watch Tower. Manned by civilian observers, these towers were built after Pearl Harbor and located every 7 miles along the entire coast. Citizens rotated shifts to watch for German U-Boats.


Investigation Team: Dave Miller, Rosie Miller, Shane Miller

Investigation Date:  August 2009

The most beautiful, picturesque haunted hotel I have ever been to and famous as the hotel that inspired Stephen King on October 30, 1974, to begin writing his famous novel about isolation, “The Shining”. King stayed in haunted Room 217 and roamed the deserted long corridors at night which inspired his plot ideas and characters.

HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE:  When we visited, the 142 room Stanley was celebrating it’s 100th year, having opened in 1909. Famous for it’s architecture, magnificent setting, famous visitors and ghosts, the hotel was built by F.O. Stanley who invented the Stanley Steamer. A rare Stanley Steamer car is on display in the lobby. Located only five miles from the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, the hotel is beautiful & the outdoor views are stunning. The famous 1978 movie “The Shinning” starring Jack Nicholson was to be filmed at the Stanley but had to be relocated due to lack of summer snow and adequate electric power. Stephen King returned in 1996 to the Stanley, produced and filmed at the hotel a six hour TV mini-series movie of The Shining that more closely follows his book. Many movie props are on display

PARANORMAL CLAIMS:  Mr. Stanley’s apparition is seen in the bar, billiards room and main lobby, Mrs. Stanley by the piano in the music room. Lord Dunraven apparition (who sold Mr. Stanley the land for the hotel) haunts Room 401. Ghost children play and haunt the 4th floor hallways. The ghost of head chambermaid Elizabeth Wilson haunts room 217 and the 2nd floor hallways. Wilson was almost killed in an explosion in October 1939 as it took three hours to excavate her from the rubble. A homeless woman haunts the concert hall and a boy named Billy appears as a misty figure in the icehouse.

INVESTIGATION:  After a 12 hour drive from Las Vegas, we arrived at 10pm. Most patrons were in their rooms. We informally investigated the lobby, bar, music room, staircase and hallways for over an hour. We stayed in Room 402 next to the haunted Lord Dunraven Room. At midnight Rosie went to sleep as Shane watched “The Shining” movie with Jack Nicholson which is shown on the hotel TV channel 24 hours a day. From 1:00 to 2:30am I walked the empty lobby, bar, music room and hallways. Standing there alone looking down the long corridors, one could feel the isolation and loneliness. I spent some time outside of room 217 and the maid/janitor’s closet nearby. I kept returning to the 4th floor and once I faintly heard a child giggle behind me, but the hallway was deserted. Later on, I got a good scare which was kind of funny. At about 2:00am as I crept silently around a corner on the third floor, a man was noiselessly tip toeing around the corner from the other direction with his camera. We scared each other and I almost screamed like a Barbie. He was a visiting ghost hunter from Oregon. After getting some sleep, the following morning I had the best breakfast ever – fresh salmon, eggs, toast and sausage. Afterwards, we investigated the concert hall (a separate building) and returned to the main building where I talked a housekeeper into letting me enter Room 401. I took photos and did EVP’s but got no responses from Lord Dunraven. I would like to return someday to this beautiful hotel for recreation or ghost hunting. “Redrum” to all.

From my photos, you can see the scenic views of Rocky Mountain National Park from the front porch, the beautiful interior of the hotel and the foreboding, eerie corridors that seem to stretch into another portal.


Investigation Team:  Dave Miller, Shane Miller,

Investigation Date:  August 2009

In 2000, my sons Matt & Shane said “Dad you need to watch this new TV show called Ghost Hunters. It is cool”. I watched and was hooked. They said why don’t we form a team and investigate. We already owned a digital camera, a movie camera with night vision, flashlights and tape recorders. So we did. We called our club, POOP – Paranormal of Ohio Professionals.  We did lots of investigations in Ohio and when vacationing around the country in our camper, would try to schedule a famous place or two to investigate.

When investigating sometimes we got evidence, sometimes nothing. Some investigations were true 6 to 8 hour overnights with full equipment, other times shorter investigations with partial equipment. Personally, I found the history of the facility and the alleged haunts fascinating regardless of whether we found evidence or not. To me the true secret in seeking the unknown is in the looking, not the finding. The JOURNEY is what matters most. I enter every investigation as a skeptic, a “doubting Thomas” but I am very open-minded.

GOLD HILL HOTEL HISTORY: When gold and silver was discovered (called the Comstock Lode) in this small mountain town in 1859, Virginia City grew as big as San Francisco with over 30,000 people, countless mining millionaires, schools, opera house, trains, newspapers, courthouse, churches and police/fire forces. Two major tragedies occurred: an April 1869 fire in the Yellow Jacket Mine (located right behind the hotel) killed 47 miners underground (many still remain in the shafts today) and in 1875 a fire started by a kerosene lamp raged through town destroying 2,000 of the 3,000 buildings. The town rebuilt but by 1878 the silver was all mined out. Today, Virginia City has a population of only a few thousand people. The Gold Hill Hotel was established in 1859 is Nevada’s Oldest Continuous Operating Hotel and the most famous Haunted Hotel on the Comstock. It was originally named the Versey’s Hotel.

PARANORMAL CLAIMS: The ghost of Rosie, believed to be a former prostitute haunts room #4 – reports of strong smell of roses, lights turn on and off, moves personal belongings. The ghost of William thought to be a former hotel manager or one of the dead miners haunts room #5 – reports of cigar tobacco odors, footsteps on the squeaky floor boards. Voices of giggling children are heard in the hallways. The apparition of a elegant woman killed in a carriage accident in the front of the hotel has been seen in the hallways. William’s cigar smell and his apparition have been seen on the winding staircase from the first floor Great Room to the second floor guest rooms.

INVESTIGATION:  Wife Rosie (no relation to Rosie the ghost) and daughters Holly and Jacque slept in room #4. Holly recalls being too scared to sleep on the floor in the sleeping bag as she kept imagining a ghost under the antique canopy bed. So she jumped in bed with Rosie and Jacque. Both Room #4 and #5 had outside wooden balconies. Son Shane slept in room #5 with me. Son Matt had been dropped off in Arizona two weeks before as he played college football. Since then we had vacationed all through California and visited many national parks. The family all fell asleep as I waited until midnight when the music, food and bar closed downstairs. At 1pm I walked the silent hallways and took photos. I made my way down to the Great Room which was empty (see photos). I settled into a soft chair with camera and tape recorder. The hotel had no air conditioning as many of my photos show fans everywhere although none were turned on that night. The mountain air was a tad muggy but not uncomfortable. I sat alone, no traffic on the street outside, the entire town and hotel silent. I dozed off briefly. I awoke with a start and immediately felt I was being watched. I slowly raised my camera and began taking photos. This investigation was memorable because it is the only time in any investigation that I physically felt a “cold spot”. The muggy air temperature suddenly became very cold and I felt a cold draft move from my left to my right for about 30 seconds and then disappear. None of my photo’s produced evidence nor did the tape recorder produce any EVP’s. However, the cold sensation and the feeling of being watched makes this investigation special. I remained in the Great Room for ten more minutes and then walked outside and took some photos behind the hotel of where the mine is.

FYI – The Ghost Adventurers TV show had one of their best ever evidence shows at the Gold Hill Hotel and in Virginia City.

HAUNTED QUEEN MARY Long Beach, California

Investigation Team:  Dave Miller, Shane Miller

Investigation Date:  August 2009

After dropping son Matt off in Arizona for college football preseason practice, we traveled to several California National Parks before spending a night on the famous Queen Mary.

HISTORY:  The famous Queen Mary – first voyage in May 1936 carried 1,742 passengers, 1,186 crew and 6,100 sacks of mail from England to New York. Held the record for 14 years as the fastest ship to travel that distance. Due to World War II, from 1940 to 1946 the ship was converted to transporting soldiers, war supplies & refugees. The Queen Mary was “marked by Adolf Hitler” but was never sunk. The ship returned to passenger service in 1947 & retired in 1967 after 1,001 transatlantic crossings carrying over 2 million passengers. During her heyday, the Queen served people from all walks of life – royalty & working class.

PARANORMAL CLAIMS:  Today, many haunts exist on this famous, majestic “ship of celebrities”.  Footsteps, sounds, voices, apparitions – so many that a paranormal organization has an office on board. Hotbeds for activity include the nursery, corridors, pool area and locker rooms, guest bedrooms (where wounded and deceased WWII soldiers bunked), the engine and boiler room.

INVESTIGATION:  After Rosie, Jacque and Holly retired to the cabin, Shane roamed the ship with me taking photos and EVP‘s. When he returned to the cabin, I investigated two main areas, trying to obtain evidence of John Pedder and William Stark. Nicknamed the “Shaft Alley Spectre”, Fireman/Cleaner Pedder, age 18, was killed in 1966 when somehow he was crushed in a mechanical water tight door. The creepy full body apparition of him standing in the walkway staring at you in often seen. Second Officer Stark is spotted in his quarters near the bridge and radio room. He died in 1949 when he accidentally drank tetrachloride mistaking it for gin.

FINDINGS:  I spent 90 minutes investigating. The long eerie corridors at night look like they enter another dimension. The boiler room is creepy and shadowy. Thankfully, Mr. Pedder did not put in an appearance in the darkened corridor where I set up or I would have had to change my shorts. One photo of the creepy pool area (see photo #7 below), shows an arm and part of a woman’s dress behind a wall. Swimmers in 1930 & 40’s attire are reported in this area. All EVP’s were negative.

THE THING Dragoon, Arizona

Expedition Team: Dave Miller, Rosie Miller, Shane Miller, Holly Miller, Matt Miller, Jacque Miller

Expedition Date:  August 4, 2009

A great roadside attraction.  P.T. Barnum once said “A sucker is born every minute”. I must have been one of those babies. For over 90 miles throughout New Mexico & Arizona I kept reading yellow billboards painted with giant letters stating “We Dare You to See The Thing”, “What is The Thing? Creature From Another World”, “The Thing – Mystery of the Desert”.

I was hooked. We had to stop and find out what The Thing was. Finally, in the middle of the desert at Exit 322 off of Interstate 10 a sign with a 30 foot arrow said “Enter Here to see The Thing”. We exited to find a large yellow building (Photo #4) containing a gift shop, gas pumps and ice cream shop. I should have known better when we were charged only $1.00 for adults and 75 cents for kids to see a possible alien from Outer Space (photo #1). I thought an extraterrestrial would have better market value.

We entered a room and the first thing I saw was one of Adolph Hitler’s staff cars with a wax museum body of Hitler in the back seat (Photo#2). The car was surrounded by wax figures of American Indians, some on horseback. I know a lot of history but I don’t think that Apache Indians fought against the Nazi’s in Europe in WWII? Well, it was too late to turn back now. I had to continue.

There were several more rooms that contained old covered wagons, a teepee ,western antiques, ancient methods of torture and a few classic cars but nothing that looked like it came from our solar system.

Following the painted monster footprints on the floor, up ahead a sign stated “Beyond this Door is The Thing!“. Finally, the moment of truth. We opened the door and went in. In a white, block, coffin-like box with a see-through plastic cover was a body. It did not look like an otherworldly creature from Mars. It was very old, dry, with wrinkled skin. It looked like a cross between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards who in real life look like 150 year old walking mummies. (Photo #3) Yep, no alien from the Milky Way. Probably was an old Indian mummy from a century or two ago resting comfortably with a Japanese garden hat laying on its lower body instead of a space helmet.

So was it worth stopping at? You betcha. It is exciting to explore unknown things. Even if they are fake.

KING TUT’S TOMB Luxor, Egypt

Expedition Team:  Jacque Miller, Dave Miller

Expedition Date:  March 26, 2009

After two days sailing on an Egyptian Felucca sail boat on the Nile River including camping out one night on the boat, we arrived in Luxor. I was accompanied by dashing and bold explorer Jacqueline Miller. We spent the evening at the Flobater Hotel in Luxor just north of the town of Karnak. The first photo is a view from the hotel roof looking across the Nile River to the town of Thebes and the Valley of the Kings. We awoke early the next morning, took a ferry boat across the Nile and climbed aboard donkeys for the 45 minute burro ride. Temperature was 85 degrees in the day and 47 degrees at night.

The third photo is the Valley of the Kings, the “Worlds Greatest Open Air Museum”, the royal cemetery for 62 pharaohs (they had just discovered tomb 63 and were working on it while we were there). The tombs in the valley ranged from a simple pit (KV 54) to a tomb with over 121 chambers and corridors (KV 5).

Photo 4 and 5 show my daughter and me at the entrance to King Tut’s tomb and a sign showing the tombs layout. King Tutankhamun reigned from 1336 to 1327 BC and died at age 18. British explorer Howard Carter discovered King Tuts tomb in November of 1922. It is famous because it is the only pharaohs tomb in the Valley of the Kings that was not robbed. 98% of Tut’s artifacts are in the Egyptian Museum in downtown Cairo which we visited but that is an adventure we will tell another time.

It was eerie entering and making our way down the steps into King Tut’s Tomb. The boy King’s mummified body is resting in a temperature controlled, clear glass enclosure (see photo) in the burial chamber. To the right and below in a separate antechamber is a beautiful multi-colored, gold plated sarcophagus and gold funerary mask. Egyptian hieroglyphics depicting picture stories lined the walls. This was a fantastic adventure.


Expedition Team: Jacque Miller, Dave Miller
Expedition Date:  March 22, 2009

Leaving Cairo by bus, my daughter and I headed through the crowded downtown to the southwest suburb of Giza. There is a reason why 90% of Egypt’s population lives within 10 miles of the Nile River. Where there is water, there is life. Where the city ended, the Libyan Desert and endless sand took over. We left the bus, hired two camels and for many hours explored the Great Pyramid and the surrounding pyramids (six total in the complex). We could see the Sphinx in the distance.

THE GREAT PYRAMID OF KHUFU: built by Khufu, 2nd Pharaoh of the 4th Dynasty (2566BC), it was built over a period of 23 years, consists of over 2 million cut limestone blocks each weighing at least 2.5 tons. This was the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 3,800 years. It is located 5 miles from the Nile River.

We wanted to explore inside a pyramid. Next to the Great Pyramid was the smaller Pyramid of Queen Hetepheres, who ruled in the fourth dynasty around 2600BC. Although the pyramid above ground was badly eroded, we were allowed to enter the pyramid’s underground room.  We climbed down a long ladder to a small room that was extremely hot and humid. Photo#1 shows the only photo I took in the square, rock room.

ENTERING THE HETP-HERES PYRAMID: Leaving the 87 degree desert heat, we descending over 85 feet down dimly lit steep stone steps, turned right and proceeded down a tunnel within the pyramid. We eventually entered a lighted room about 50 feet in length with white masonry limestone walls. The walls were mostly blank with only a few hieroglyphs. The temperature inside the pyramid was much cooler than the outside surface. We learned that Queen Hetp-Heres was the mother of King Khufu, the builder of the Great Pyramid. It was an eerie feeling being in this inner room far underground.

SAD NEWS: After the Arab uprising in 2011, tourism in Egypt collapsed. When Jacque and I visited, 14.7 million tourists visited Egypt that year. In 2016, 4 million tourists visited. With the tourism decline, many Egyptians who made their living providing camel rides to tourists around the pyramids had to sell their camels for meat. Some could not afford to feed them, worked the camels until they collapsed from exhaustion and unceremoniously tossed the carcasses in nearby sand dunes.


Dive Team:  Dave Miller, Matt Miller
Dive Date:   April 19, 2006

HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE:  This was our first dive on this World War II wreck off the coast Key Largo. Many of you may not know this but eastern American shipping lanes were threatened by Nazi U-Boats including southern Florida coastal waters. On the night of April 9, 1942, rumors of German U-Boats in the area forced the two ships to travel completely blacked out. The captain of the Norwegian merchant freighter Benwood kept the Florida coastal lights three miles abeam while the captain of the American steam tanker Robert C. Tuttle kept the Florida coastal lights 1 ½ miles abeam. The Benwood was built in 1910 and carried a crew of 38. The Tuttle was built in 1940 and carried a crew of 47.

THE INCIDENT:  At around 12:45am, both ships saw black objects ahead in the water. Both took evasive actions but unknowingly steered toward each other. Just past 12:52am the bow of the Benwood punched into the Tuttle just aft of the port side bow above the waterline. This caused the bow of the Benwood to collapse upon itself and take on water at a brisk rate. The captain turned hard for shore attempting to save the ship by grounding but around 1:30am was forced to abandon ship. The Benwood sunk in 40 to 55 feet of water north of French Reef. (While the Tuttle survived the collision and was repaired, it sunk two months later from a mine laid by German U-Boat 701 off the coast of Virginia).

DIVE FINDINGS:  The day was clear, temperature was 80 degrees, underwater visibility good at 35 to 40 feet for our 35 minute dive. As Matt and I descended, we saw that over time most of the decks of the Benwood have pancaked down on each other & are covered with corals, aquatic plants and fish. The compartments were too tight to enter. It appears the cargo of phosphate rock was salvaged long ago. There was no sign of the original armament which included a four inch gun, six depth charges, rifles and 36 bombs. Parts of the hull plates litter the sand around the perimeter of the decks. The main body of decks were 285 feet long & 51 feet wide teeming with abundant aquatic life. As our photos show, we saw crabs, barracudas, snappers, grunts, butterfly fish, parrotfish, angelfish and much more. Off the port side of the wreck Matt spotted a sea turtle and a nurse shark. Matt did great on his first wreck dive.