To quote Shakespeare, ‘All that glitters Is not gold,’ but SOME of it is. The lure of buried treasure, an occasional flight of fancy for some and a soul-selling obsession for others, is an ageless fascination. No soul bartering here, but I’ve done some research for would be treasure hunters and discovered there are many yet undiscovered troves in America. Apparently in every state according to the book Buried Treasures You Can Find by Robert F. Marx. An interesting and informative read, however the font size decreases to minuscule proportions when Mr. Marx reaches the part of the book where he actually lists possible sites, so don’t expect me to recap without a magnifying glass. Instead I’ll touch on some of his general guidelines. I, for one, would be happy to discover even a single gold doubloon , but it would have to wash ashore. I’m not scuba diving.
Author Robert Marx has been treasure-seeking ever since he quit his newspaper route as a youth and has recovered an astonishing array of lost, hidden, or mislaid treasure both on land and plucked from the depths of the sea. First of all, he says you need a good metal detector and devotes pages to weighing the merits of various kinds. Agreed, a premier detector would be fun to have, and considering I live in historic Virginia, I might actually find a Civil War button or something from the past which would thrill me. Bear in mind that I’m easily delighted. I once unearthed what I thought were shards of old pottery while planting a peach tree that turned out to be the remnants of an antiquated septic system. Not very exciting. However, my determination to dig the hole deeper in search of my imagined find got the tree planted in a hurry. The most I’ve ever unearthed on our farm are old medicine bottles, but I’m fond of old bottles and have a kitchen windowsill filled with them.
The next step Mr. Marx advises after you’ve conducted a thorough study of metal detectors (I haven’t) and made your purchase is to learn how to use it properly and practice, practice. Yada, yada, we’re up to page 63 now–this book is for serious seekers–when he describes some of the most famous still to be discovered caches, also discussing WHY people bury treasure. I assumed because they didn’t want thieves to find it, but there’s more. In Colonial America banks were rare and often unavailable so most people buried money on their property. Indians might suddenly attack or the British were coming, so they prepared for calamities, possibly dying before recovering their money.
During the Civil War people in the South buried their treasures not only to keep them out of enemy hands but to avoid having to donate to the Confederate Treasury for the war effort. As before, the ‘safest bank’ was a hole in the ground or some other secret location. Some of the largest undiscovered treasures occurred during the Civil War: Excerpted from the book Civil War Gold & Other Lost Treasures by W. Craig Gaines. ”The really big lost treasure is that of the Confederate Treasury in custody of Jeff Davis upon leaving Richmond, fleeing the Yankee hordes. Portions of it are believed to be in Greene & Morgan Counties of Georgia. The combined hoard is believed to be between $500,000 and $600,000 in gold, the combined values of the Richmond Bank & Confederate Treasury. Most made it to Washington, Georgia, but an untold amount remains unaccounted for.”
On the Western frontier, there were many cutthroats who preyed on hapless pioneers, and Lord knows those gold prospectors were justifiably paranoid. So they kept their big strikes secret, some taking that knowledge with them to the grave. And there were the gamblers, soldiers, saloon keepers…who hid their earnings. Not to mention the stage-coach robbers who hid their loot while escaping from the posse, thinking to return for it later. But they didn’t all. Get the picture? Untold treasure is still out there–somewhere.
If you’re seeking a specific cache, and there are some famous ones, Mr. Marx says to first be certain it truly exists and isn’t the stuff of legend. Would you believe some disreputable people will try to sell you treasure maps that aren’t actually genuine. *Shakes head.
Mr. Marx suggests seeking documentation recorded as closely to the time of the original event as possible and that old newspapers and books are a valuable resource. If you’re just searching out potential historic sites, then he suggests ports, river banks, anywhere construction is moving earth, old homes, ghost towns, abandoned trash dumps from bygone days… Mr. Marx has oodles of suggestions and lists them by state.
I’d love a really good metal detector…
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