These Hidden Treasures Will Make You Reach for Your Compass
We tend to think of gold-hunting adventures, indecipherable treasure maps, and mysterious clues leading to buried fortunes as imaginary things taken out of Hollywood movies and story books. The truth is there’s a lot of real treasure out there from fantastical stories about pirates, robbers, murders, mysteries, conquistadors, and many other remarkable individuals and situations. We mapped out 30 of the most awesome hidden treasures stories for you that will make you reach for your compass right now!
1. Doc Dynamite’s Gold
Never ever listen to an “expert.” Next time some pompous know-it-all tells you to trust him, think of Doc Dynamite. It was 1939 in New Mexico when Doc the gold miner discovered a huge amount of gold trapped within a mountain. There was an opening, yes, but alas—not big enough. So, how could he get the gold?
Doc the gold miner decided to call an expert. The genius took a look, stroked his beard, and came to the conclusion that no less than 80 sticks of dynamite should do the trick. “Big boom, then gold,” he declared sagaciously. Of course, the blast was so forceful that there was a huge cave-in, and Doc Dynamite was left with nothing more than a cloud of dust and a belittling nickname. The next undiscovered treasure will surely grab your attention …
2. Desert Galleon
How did a Spanish galleon find itself half buried in the middle of a Californian desert? Most importantly, what did it carry on board? As legend has it, in 1615, a Spanish ship captain named Juan De Iturbe was making his way down the Pacific Ocean when fierce waves knocked the vessel into a drying lake in Cahuilla.
On board the ship was priceless cargo: black pearls from the Mojave Desert. However, since the crew had a 300 mile journey to safety ahead of them, they abandoned the ship and everything on it. No one has ever found the pearls, so if you still have a couple of vacation days left, why not give it a try?
3. The Treasure of Lima
In 1820, there was a revolt in Lima, Peru, which forced the Spaniards to take measures to protect the fortune they amassed. So, they hired a British ship to sail around with the treasure until the revolt subsided. However, the crew was just too tempted by the gold on board.
They proceeded to kill the Spanish guards and hide the treasure. Later, they were caught and all but two were executed. The two who were spared were supposed to lead the Spaniards back to the treasure. They navigated the anxious conquistadors to the Cocos Islands and when opportunity arose, they disappeared into a jungle, never to be heard from again. The place where the gold is buried remains unknown. Read on to discover other treasures that remain an enigma to this day.
4. The Bighorn Treasure
During the war between General Custer and the Indians, Captain Marsh of the ‘Far West’ steamboat was ordered to make his way up the Bighorn River between Wyoming and Montanta to fetch some injured men from the field of battle.
However, Captain Marsh had quite a bit of gold on board—$375,000 worth of gold to be exact. He soon realized that what with the weight of the injured men and the gold together, the ship would collapse. After pondering the dilemma, Captain Marsh went with his heart and dumped the gold into the Bighorn River. The gold has never been found. Want to ignite your adventurous sides a little more? Read on to learn about more stories of lost gold and conquests.
5. The Fenn Treasure
Forest Fenn, a wealthy art dealer, thought he was about to die. In 2010, to make things interesting, he hid a treasure box worth over a million dollars somewhere in the Rocky Mountains and dared the masses to go find it.
He slowly released more and more clues regarding the location of the box and even published a book which includes a poem revealing some more information. Two people have died searching for his treasure, but to this day no one was successful in finding it. Murder, crimes, and mysteries surround many other cases of treasure and gold. Continue reading to find out.
6. The Alamo Treasure
Remember the Alamo fortress compound? Well, legend has it that right around there, the San Saba Treasure, purportedly worth millions of dollars, was lost forever. It was headed for the Alamo by Colonel Jim Bowie to finance the Texas revolution, but never made it to its destination.
In December 1835, 188 brave fighters died at the Alamo fighting a massive Mexican onslaught of 6,000 men. That is exactly where this fortune is believed to be buried. Perhaps it was found right then and there by the Mexican soldiers and was promptly put aside to pay for a big, beautiful wall? The next one is definitely a hair-raising tale.
7. Leon Trabuco’s Gold
In the 1930s, Leon Trabuco, a very rich Mexican, decided that the most wise thing to do with his fortune was to invest in gold. The way he saw it, the American dollar was about to plummet, and soon the value of gold would skyrocket.
He and his business associates purchased 16 tons of gold. However, soon after, the U.S. passed the Gold Reserve Act in 1934 which outlawed any private ownership of gold. Any individuals who had gold needed to surrender it to the Treasury for safekeeping. Trabuco found himself stuck with the merchandise after the law was passed. Mysteriously, a few months later, he and his associates were found murdered. Since they were the only people who knew where the 16 tons of gold was hidden, it remains a secret to this day.
8. The Polish Royal Casket
World War II was a bad time to own treasure because of the Nazi regime’s plundering and pillaging of resources across Europe. The Polish Royal Casket contained a tremendous amount of gold, jewelry, silver, and ivory, and as the war became imminent, the treasure was transferred to southeast Poland to be hidden from the Nazi aggressors.
However, as one version of the story goes, a German mill owner passed the secret location of the treasure to the Nazis and they proceeded to loot it (in an orderly fashion, of course). Where exactly it ended up is unclear. While some believe it was destroyed, others believe it may still be found one day, shrouded in dust in some German attic.
9. Treasure Coast
Florida is not only a home to drunk college students and what could only be estimated as every single retired citizen in the country; it’s also the home of Treasure Coast. What makes this significant is that $2 billion worth of treasure is thought to be buried on this coast.
In 1715, a Spanish fleet with a count of 11 galleon ships filled with gold, silver, emeralds, and pearls got ensnared in a brutal hurricane off the coast of Florida, and consequentially, lost a mind-boggling amount of riches. That stretch of land is called Treasure Coast because every once in a while some piece of Spanish loot washes up on shore. Discover which other locations bear so much treasure that it could only be the stuff of story books.
10. The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine
There are many speculators out there who believe that in the Superstitions Mountains, east of Phoenix, Arizona, lies a gigantic gold vein, just waiting to be mined. The riches, they say, are beyond one’s wildest imagination. Legend has it that gold miner Jacob Waltz discovered it in the 19th century and for years made a fortune out of it.
However, the German did not wish to expose the location and kept it secret until the day he died. No one has discovered it since, but this doesn’t mean men haven’t braved the terrain in search of the gold. To add insult to injury, many in search of the gold have been found dead; decapitated to be precise. Lots of mystery surrounds this treasure and who or what is guarding it, but nothing has been proved or solved as of yet. Read on to learn other tales of mystery, murder, and gold.
11. Peking Man Remains
The Peking Man was a primate species believed to have lived and prospered 500,000 years ago. When archaeologists discovered the bones of this species in the 1920s buried in a cave in China, it was a big deal, and the bones were considered invaluable.
During World War II, for fear the Japan-China war would jeopardize the prized discovery, the precious remains were shipped to the U.S. for safekeeping. Alas, they never made it to their destination, and it remains unclear to this day how, where, and by what measure they disappeared. Were they lost at sea? Did Japanese soldiers steal them? Nobody knows. Think this is enticing? Read about the next lost treasure, and you’ll surely get your compass out.
12. The Dutch Schultz Treasure
This 1930s Jewish-American gangster was not about to give the IRS the pleasure. Once he sensed they were taking a particular interest in him, he quickly stashed around $7 million in a safe and went out to look for a place to bury it.
The plan was to recover it once it was safe again, but unfortunately, while he was enjoying a nice dinner with his bodyguard, he was shot up and killed. Schultz never left instructions on how to find the safe, which means no one has found it. Sometimes the treasure sounds so far-fetched that it could just be a joke, like the next one …
13. The Golden Owl
Some people really know how to make life fun. In April 1993, one man, who went by the pseudonym Max Valentin, declared to the world that he buried a golden owl somewhere in France, and that the person who found it shall receive 1 million French francs.
He drew up 11 clues he thought will suffice to make sure it wouldn’t be found easily and then released them to the public. Needless to say, many people have tried. So much so, that a chapel was burned in an effort to find this owl. Valentin died in 2009, and as of today, no one has found the treasure yet.
14. Mosby’s Treasure
John Singleton Mosby was a Confederate Commander during the American Civil War. On one of his raids, he caught a Union Army General, took him prisoner, and seized a burlap sack that to his delight contained $350,000 worth of gold.
However, on the way back to Confederate lines, he ran into a large force of Union soldiers. He ordered the treasure to be buried between two trees and then he marked the trees with his knife. Later, he sent his men to retrieve the gold, but they got caught by Union soldiers and were promptly hanged. Alas, the treasure was never recovered. Maybe that can change?
15. The Tomb of Emperor Tu Duc
We all know that the afterlife can be an expensive place. So if you were an Emperor, let’s say of Vietnam, wouldn’t you too take a little somethin’ somethin’ with you to the grave? This Emperor from the 19th century had more than a hundred wives and concubines, but not one male heir to his fortune.
So, in kind of a jerk move, he decided to have his gold buried with him. Supposedly, his tomb could still be found under the remains of his castle. However, some speculate that Tu Duc and his selfish deed are actually buried in some other unknown place. What other people took treasure and the secrets of its whereabouts to the grave?
16. Flor de la Mar
Sometime in the 16th century, Afonso de Albuquerque, a Portuguese nobleman, was returning from a triumphant ransacking of the city of Malacca in Malaysia. He was sailing upon the Flor de la Mar with a trove of priceless loot to give to the king when his carrack got caught up in a vicious storm.
The vessel sunk and Afonso barely escaped alive, by holding on to an improvised raft from the wreckage. The treasure, however, along with the ship’s remains, were never found. Many have tried to locate it; some for the loot and some for its rich history, but none have succeeded.
17.The Barber Dimes
Ever picked up a funny-looking coin and asked yourself: “Holly Bieber, maybe it’s worth something?” You might want to hold on to some of those coince, beacause some are indeed worth lots of money. In 1907, four wagons hauling four million newly minted dimes slid off the Black Canyon and their precious cargo was never fully found.
These dimes are now worth a lot of money, and they are out there waiting for a shrewd treasure hunter to capture them. Only a dozen of these precious dimes are known to have been recovered. That leaves you with only 3,999,988 dimes to find. Continue clicking to learn even more thrilling stories.
18. Thomas Beale and the Hidden $63 Million
As the story goes, in 1816, Thomas Beale and a few other men stumbled upon a huge amount of gold somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. They all decided to bury it for safekeeping, so that their sons and daughters would have something to fall back on once they were gone.
Beale wrote three ciphers describing how to get to the treasure, but due to some misunderstanding, the key to the cipher got lost and without it, it was impossible to locate the treasure. No one, as far as anybody knows, has been able to find that lost treasure.
19. The Antwerp Diamond Heist
The 2003 Antwerp Diamond Heist remains one of the most brilliant in history, with an estimated amount of $100 million worth of diamonds stolen from the Antwerp Diamond Center (ADC) in Belgium. It all started when Leonardo Notarbartolo rented a small, humble office within the ADC and gained credibility as a diamond merchant.
One day, he took off with the incredible loot after he force opened about 123 safe boxes. The police were able to pin it on him due to DNA recovered from a half-eaten sandwich he left on site. This, however, didn’t help locate the diamonds and they were never recovered. The next story also involves diamonds, but were their whereabouts discovered?
20. The 2009 Graff Diamonds Robbery
In 2009, two men entered Graff Diamonds in New Bond Street, London. They were elegantly dressed and heavily disguised with professional make-up and latex prosthetics. Once inside the premise, they took out two guns and threatened the staff. They stole $65 million worth of diamonds.
The police found a phone wedged between the seats in the getaway car and were able to promptly arrest the robbers. The diamonds, however, were never found. It is surmised that the jewelry and the diamonds were broken into smaller pieces so they could be sold more safely.
21. The Dead Sea Scrolls
We can only wish these scrolls were taught in Bible class. However, the ancient copper scrolls, believed to have been written around 25-75 CE, were lost a long time ago. Their worth in terms of historical and linguistic language is immense, but in terms of “SHOW ME DA MONEY,” they could very well be worth a lot more.
It is surmised that these unique scrolls contain an extensive list of locations in which items of gold and silver are buried. The exact amount of treasure which the scrolls map is unknown, but some estimate that its worth could reach $1 billion. That’s quite a hefty amount, much like the next load of treasure, looted by greedy Nazi officials.
22. The Amber Room
This famous room was once considered an eighth world wonder because it was filled to the brim with amber decoration, fancy mirrors, and gold leafs. However, during World War II when the Nazis invaded Russia, a group of Nazi’s dissembled the room and transferred the loot to Königsberg.
After the war, the Amber Room was never seen again. Some speculate that while under bombardment from the Royal Air force, the contents of the room were loaded on a German transfer ship, which was later sunk by a Soviet submarine. Where are these gorgeous riches buried? It seems that no one will ever know, but that doesn’t mean other treasures dumped in water by Nazis cannot be found …
23. The Lake Toplitz Treasure
During World War II, a group of Nazis had no choice but to dump a number of sealed iron boxes, reportedly containing gold, into Lake Toplitz in the Austrian Alps. They were fleeing the allied forces and feared that the loot would be seized by their enemies.
Since then, many have tried to recover the lost gold. Time and time again, divers have tried to resurface the boxes; some have even died in the effort, but the boxes have never been found. Since the war, a layer of sunken logs have covered the floor of the lake, making it almost impossible to find the treasure. Read on for more exciting stories of lost, stolen, and unfound treasure.
24. King John’s Crown Jewels
In England circa 1216, King John was the man in charge; he exuded power and prestige and possessed a certain royal aura. However, one unfortunate day, King John felt a little ill and made a small error in judgment. He told his convoy that he must be taken home as quickly as possible.
Even if it meant navigating the tricky marshes of The Wash, a square bay and estuary on the East Coast of England. While they were traversing the rough terrain, one of the crates that contained all his crown jewels sunk into the marsh. The items were never recovered and are assumed to be worth about $70 million today.
25. The Fabergé Eggs
The Imperial Romanov family had many priceless possessions, but the Fabergé Eggs were a real treasure. They had 52 of them—jeweled, beautiful, and just a joy to look at. However, in 1917, they were dethroned by Russian Bolsheviks and their belongings were confiscated.
All the Eggs were meant to be transported to the Kremlin. However, by some mysterious chain of events, eight eggs never made it. It is unclear who was responsible for their disappearance, but they are out there waiting to be found.
26. Montezuma’s Treasure
The story behind this treasure truly seems to be straight out of a Hollywood movie. In 1914, a prospector named Freddy Crystal found marks on a Utah cliff that matched an ancient Aztec treasure map. It was concluded that the topography on the map did in fact match the terrain in that area in Utah.
A search party was assembled, and indeed they found an intricate system of booby-trapped tunnels inside the mountain. However, there was no treasure to be found. Some speculate that the treasure was moved by the Aztecs at some point in history, or rather, that it was already discovered and removed by some random lucky Joe. This next treasure has claimed the lives of many and even made a whole TV series. What could it be?
27. Oak Island Pit
The Oak Island Mystery stems from several theories of buried treasure on Oak Island in Nova Scotia, Canada. There are many theories about what’s been buried there, one of which surrounds how nine Templar Knights sworn to protect the pilgrims in the Holy Land. Their power grew and they amassed riches and treasure along with it.
But, what the Pope wants, the Pope gets—and at a certain point, he wanted the order disbanded and the knights arrested. The men of the Templar Knights all fled to different areas, and its believed that some carried treasure and gold to Oak Island and buried it within a pit so deep that no one was ever able to dig it out. Since the 19th century, people have searched what’s called the Money Pit which is booby trapped and led to five deaths. Several clues and tales suggest that a sixth person needs to die in order for the treasure to be released. Today, the Money Pit is the subject of a reality television series The Curse of Oak Island, which tracks the Lagina Brothers on their conquest of the treasure using modern technology and expertise. Will they finally crack the mystery?
28. The El Dorado Legend
It is said that thousands of years ago, the leader of the Muisca tribe, which habituated modern-day Colombia, used to toss gold and treasure into Lake Guatavita in honor of the gods. When the Spaniards conquered the area, they tried to drain the lake in order to find the treasure.
While they didn’t succeed in draining the lake, they did find some gold there. Since then, many have tried to mine this lake, and in one attempt, it is reported that hundreds of workmen died. The lake was later completely drained, and the gold is thought to be buried somewhere underneath the hardened crust that remained.
29. Captain Kidd’s Treasure
Captain Kidd was a notorious pirate during the 18th century. He amassed a fortune from his years of masterful looting. He reportedly buried his treasure somewhere around Madagascar, New York, or the Caribbean, but it is still not entirely known.
In 1701, Captain Kidd was executed in London and, unfortunately, he did not leave any information that might help treasure hunters locate the loot. In 2015, a man named Barry Clifford cried wolf, claiming that he had found the treasure. However, his claims were soon debunked. This next one is somewhat of a success story, especially after four long centuries.
30. Treasure of the Nuestra Senora de Atocha
The Nuestra Senora Atocha was the fiercest ship in the Spanish fleet. It left Havana in the year 1622, heavily armed, and carrying an immense amount of treasure on board. When a hurricane hit the ships, the Atocha tragically sank.
Its unfound treasures were lost for more than 400 years, until in 1985 the ship was found and $500 million worth of priceless items were recovered. However, the captain’s cabin, believed to have contained the most invaluable artifacts, was never found.
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