Everyone loves a good treasure hunt. It’s the thrill of the chase, the romance of antiquity or a good story, and the dream of finding the fortune at the end. And who couldn’t use a few extra bucks in this economy? There are many stories of people who have dedicated their life to find treasure, only to go broke and never find the bundles of cash, tons of jewels or chest of gold. Here are some great tales of treasure waiting to be found – if you dare…
10. Captain Kidd’s Chest of Gold
- Rumored location: Connecticut River, Block Island in New York
“X” marks the spot on the pirate’s map, and in this case the spot is the secret buried treasure of the infamous Captain Kidd. William Kidd was a Scottish sailor who started his career as a privateer – pirate hunter – who later turned to the very act he was supposed to stop. After amassing a huge fortune, he was arrested on his return from the Indian Ocean in 1699, tried for piracy on the high seas and executed in 1701. However, the rumoured riches of his activities were never recovered. One of his hiding places was uncovered on Gardener’s Island in New York and sent to England to be used against him in his trial. The belief that he had other hiding places for his plunder was never substantiated, but there was not enough treasure found at the Gardener’s Island location to believe that it was the only stash. In fact, it may have been a decoy. And it is this belief that sends people out with their shovels to this day.
The most talked about location of Kidd’s treasure is up the Connecticut River somewhere on Clarke’s Island or maybe on Block Island in New York.
9. Dutch Schult’s Bundles of Cash
- Rumored location: Phoenecia, New York
Schultz (born Arthur Flegenheimer) was a mobster in New York in the 20?s and 30?s. During his criminal career, he amassed quite a fortune from his dealings. The government continually tried to take him down for violent crime but were unsuccessful. They finally had to go the Al Capone route and charge him with tax evasion. Schultz, thinking he was going to go to jail, decided he needed to make sure he would have some cash when he got out.
He took $7 million in cash and buried it in a hidden location in upstate New York. The only two people who knew the location were Schultz and his bodyguard. Unfortunately, they were both gunned down before he went to prison. The bodyguard was killed, and Schultz lasted a while until an infection took him as well. Although there is no proof that either man revealed the location to anyone before their deaths, some say Schultz’s ramblings as he was dying points to a forest in Phoenecia Park. It is said that many of his rival gangsters spent the rest of their lives looking for the treasure, Lucky Luciano among them.
8. The Treasure of Robert Moriss
- Rumored location: unknown
Robert Morriss, an innkeeper in Virginia, was approached by a man named Thomas Beale in 1820. Beale gave Morriss a box and asked him to keep it until somebody came to get it some time in the next 10 years. Morriss was told that if nobody came in that time period, he could keep the box for himself. No one ever showed. After twenty year, Morriss finally opened the box and pulled out three pages of nothing but numbers.
It was a code, and Morriss spent years attempting to decipher it. After his death, a friend of his who ended up with the box and reported that he deciphered the second page using the the Declaration of Independence. The page said that the treasure contained 5,100 pounds of gold, 4,900 pounds of silver, and thousands of dollars in jewelery. But the page said nothing of the location. It is assumed that the location is revealed in page one or three, but nobody has been able to decipher those two pages to this day.
7. William Thompson’s Gold
- Rumored location: Cocos Islands, Coastal Peru
In 1820, Lima, Peru, was on the edge of revolt. As a preventative measure, the viceroy of Lima decided to transport the city’s fabulous wealth to Mexico for safekeeping. The treasures included jeweled stones, candlesticks, and two life-size solid gold statues of Mary holding the baby Jesus. In all, the treasure filled 11 ships and was valued at around $60 million.
Captain William Thompson, commander of the Mary Dear, was put in charge of transporting the riches to Mexico. But the viceroy should have done some research on the man to whom he handed such fabulous wealth because Thompson was a pirate, and a ruthless one at that. Once the ships were well out to sea, he cut the throats of the Peruvian guards and threw their bodies overboard.
Thompson headed for the Cocos Islands, in the Indian Ocean, where he and his men allegedly buried the treasure. They then decided to split up and lay low until the situation had calmed down, at which time they would reconvene to divvy up the spoils.
But the Mary Dear was captured, and the crew went on trial for piracy. All but Thompson and his first mate were hanged. To save their lives, the two agreed to lead the Spanish to the stolen treasure. They took them as far as the Cocos Islands and then managed to escape into the jungle. Thompson, the first mate, and the treasure were never seen again.
Since then more than 300 expeditions have tried — unsuccessfully — to locate the treasures of Lima. The most recent theory is that the treasure wasn’t buried on the Cocos Islands at all but on an unknown island off the coast of Central America.
6. French Gold In America
- Rumored location: Ohio
In the 1700?s, when the French still occupied U.S. territory, they knew a battle with the British was coming. In anticipation of this, they thought it good to move their riches to a safe place. Ten men were selected to move the treasure of gold and silver. They used the Great Trail, a Native American route, to move everything. At some point, sensing an ambush, they buried it. The attack did occur, where all but two of the men died. They did not disclose the location of the treasure.
Years later, a relative of one of the men found some pages talking about the treasure. They described the location of the treasure as being “between two natural springs, with the landmark of a tree that had a deer carved into it, and another tree with a rock in the branches”. The relative, among others, searched but came up empty. Some time later, both trees were found along with shovels and muskets that were left behind by the French troops. The location is near Minerva, Ohio but the treasure has yet to be uncovered.
5. Blackbeard’s Treasure
- Rumored location: Hampton, Connecticut
Edward Teach (1680-1718) was better known as Blackbeard, the notorious English pirate who operated around the West Indies and the eastern coast of the American colonies during the early 1700s. Teach was most likely born in Bristol, England. Little is known about his early life, but in 1716 he joined the crew of Benjamin Hornigold, a pirate who operated from the Caribbean island of New Providence.
In the Hampton region of Connecticut a man named Barney Reynolds, allegedly a direct descendant of Capt. Edward Teach, said that he had inherited a treasure map, handed down from Blackbeard himself, which unquestionably placed a buried hoard in the Howard’s Valley section of Hampton known as the Jewett homestead. Why were pirates so far inland? And what was Blackbeard doing in Hampton? The theory is that between 1713 and 1718, Blackbeard was known to have pirated West Indian shipping. He may well have anchored off New London, unloaded his portable booty and made his way northward over the old Nipmuck Indian trail, either to reach Boston by way of an overland route, or more likely, to evade pursuers. Near the “Canada settlement” in Hampton, the pirate party crossed easterly to reach the North and South Road, later the King’s Highway, which, in turn, led to the Connecticut Path to Boston.
To this day, it has not been recovered, but many believe that it lies in waiting for whoever digs at the right spot.
4. The Treasures of Montezuma
- Rumored location: Mexico
The Spanish decimation of the Aztec empire in Mexico came to a head on July 1, 1520. After mortally wounding Emperor Montezuma, Hernando Cortés and his men were besieged by enraged Aztec warriors in the capital city of Tenochtitlán.
After days of fierce fighting, Cortés ordered his men to pack up the vast treasures of Montezuma in preparation for a night flight, but they didn’t get far before the Aztecs fell upon them. The ensuing carnage filled Lake Tezcuco with Spanish bodies and the stolen treasures of Montezuma.
The terrified army had thrown the booty away in a vain attempt to escape with their lives. The hoard consisted of countless gold and silver ornaments, along with a huge array of jewels.
Cortés and a handful of his men got away with their lives and returned a year later to exact their revenge. When the inhabitants of Tenochtitlán got wind of the approaching invaders, they buried the remains of the city’s treasure in and around Lake Tezcuco to prevent it from falling prey to the gold-crazed Spanish.
Today, a vast treasure trove remains hidden beneath nearly five centuries of mud and sludge on the outskirts of Mexico City, the modern day incarnation of Tenochtitlán. Generations of treasure seekers have sought the lost hoard without success. A former president of Mexico even had the lake bed dredged, but no treasure was found.
3. Treasures of the Pharaohs
- Rumored location: Herihor, Egypt
When Howard Carter found the tomb of Tutankhamen in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings in 1922, he was mesmerized by the splendor of the artifacts that the young king took to the afterlife. Attached to the burial chamber was a treasury with so many jewels and other artifacts that it took Carter ten years to fully catalog them.
However, when the burial chambers of more prominent pharaohs were unearthed in the late 19th century, their treasure chambers were virtually empty. It is common knowledge that tomb robbers had been busy in the tombs over the centuries, but the scale of the theft required to clean out the tombs of the kings is beyond petty criminals. So, where is the vast wealth of the pharaohs buried in the Valley of the Kings?
Some scholars believe that the treasures were appropriated by the priests who conducted reburials in the Valley of the Kings during the period of the early 20th and late 21st Egyptian dynasties (425-343 B.C.). Pharaohs were not averse to reusing the funeral splendors of their ancestors, so this may have been carried out with official sanction.
One particular ruler, Herihor, has been the focus of special attention. Herihor was a high court official during the reign of Ramses XI. Upon Ramses’ death, Herihor usurped the throne, dividing up the kingdom with a co-conspirator, his son-in-law Piankh. Herihor placed himself in charge of reburial proceedings at the Valley of the Kings, affording himself ample opportunity to pilfer on a grand scale.
His tomb has never been found. When and if it is, many scholars believe that the missing treasures of many of Egypt’s pharaohs will finally see the light of day.
2. Oak Island Money Pit
- Actual Location: Oak Island, Nova Scotia, Canada
The Oak Island Money Pit is the site of the world’s longest running hunt for lost treasure. For hundreds of years, treasure hunters have ventured to Nova Scotia, Canada – was a favorite stomping ground for pirates in the 18th century – and tried to recover the treasure lies in the Money Pit, protected by a series of indigenous traps. As treasure hunters have attempted to recover the bounty from the Money Pit, cleverly engineered flood tunnels flood the shaft with sea water.
Strange man made artifacts have been recovered from the pit over the years, but to this day, the treasure still remains buried. Pirates, the Knights Templar or Francis Bacon – no one is sure exactly who created this mysterious Money Pit or why. The treasure pit is almost 200 feet deep, protected by an elaborate set of booby traps (underground channels to an ocean beach over 500 feet away) and has been the subject of countless excavations since 1795, costing millions of dollars. Six treasure hunters have died in their attempts at this site. To this day, nobody has recovered the treasures that lie in waiting.
Read the details on this fascinating place here.
1. The Ark of the Covenant
- Rumored location: Somewhere in the Middle East
To the ancient Israelites, the Ark of the Covenant was the most sacred thing on Earth. The central and paramount object of the Hebrew nation, this ornate chest was, according to the Bible, designed by God. The Ark of the Covenant or The Ark is a biblical artifact. According to the Bible, the Ark was a wooden chest used by the ancient Hebrews to carry the Ten Commandments. The Bible speaks of the Ark leveling mountains and laying waste to entire regions. An army which carries the Ark before it is invincible.
Measuring 44 inches long, 26 inches wide, and 26 inches high, the chest was made of acacia wood, overlaid inside and out with pure gold, and surrounded by an artistic gold border. Mounted on the solid gold cover were two golden cherubs, one at each end of the cover facing each other, with heads bowed and wings extending upward.
In 607 B.C., Jerusalem, the capital city of the Israelite kingdom of Judah and home of Solomon’s Temple, where the Ark was housed, was besieged and overthrown by the Babylonians. In a terrible slaughter, more than a million people were killed, with the survivors driven off into captivity. Seventy years later, when the Israelites returned to rebuild the city, the Ark of the Covenant was gone. What happened to this priceless relic has been the subject of intense speculation ever since.
It is widely believed that the Ark was hidden by the Hebrews to keep it from the Babylonians. Possible locations for its hiding place range from Mount Nebo in Egypt to Ethiopia to a cave in the heart of Judah. Yet, if the Ark was hidden, why was it not recovered when the Israelites returned to Jerusalem and rebuilt the temple?
Others believe that the Ark was destroyed by the rampaging Babylonians. Still another explanation put forth by the faithful is that God miraculously removed the Ark for safekeeping by means of divine intervention.