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13 Real Treasures That Are Still Waiting To Be Dug Up


They're a staple of cheesy movies and novels, but it's pretty unusual to hear about real buried treasures. These 13 cases have yet to be found, so grab a shovel and start digging!

1. Pirate Gold In New Orleans

The LaFitte brothers were a pair of French pirates who smuggled and stole in the Gulf of Mexico during the early 1800s. They were rumored to have stored their bounty somewhere in Louisiana. Despite treasure hunters digging up pretty much the entire state, no one has found their gold yet.

Jean LaFitteWikimedia

The two most likely places, according to amateur gold hunters, are Lake Borgne, on the coast of New Orleans, and the Old Spanish Trail which follows the Sabine River. Wherever the gold is hidden, this is a great excuse to visit New Orleans!

2. Mosby's Treasure

During the Civil War, Confederate Commander John Singleton Mosby and his team of raiders earned themselves a ferocious reputation. Mosby's most famous raid involved the capture of a Union General near Culpepper, Virginia, along with his cache of gold, silver and antiques.


Mosby reportedly ran into trouble somewhere along the modern U.S. route 211, and buried the gold between two large pines marked by his knife. The men he sent to return the treasure were caught and hanged, so it should still be there to this day.

3. A Suitcase Full Of Money

John DillingerNYDN

The bank robber John Dillinger is one of America's most famous gangsters, and before his death in 1934 his gang stole as much as $300,000. Dillinger and his associate "Baby Face" Nelson were famously cornered by FBI agents at the Little Bohemia Lodge in Mercer, Wisconsin, but escaped out the back door.

Little Bohemia LodgeWikimedia

Fortune hunters say that somewhere behind the lodge Dillinger stashed a suitcase loaded with $200,000 in bills. Of course, he never found time to retrieve the loot, so the woods behind the lodge have become a dig site for treasure seekers.

4. The Wreck Of The San Miguel

In the 1550s, a convoy of Spanish treasure ships loaded with gold, pearls and jewels set sail for Spain from Cuba. The convoy's departure was delayed until hurricane season, hoping to ward off attacks by pirate ships. Instead, the ships were hit by a massive storm and sank.

Today, treasure hunters search for the convoy off the east coast of Florida and in the waters surrounding the Dominican Republic. In modern currency, the treasure could be worth over $2 billion.

5. The Lost Dutchman Gold Mine

Superstition MountainsWikimedia

This secret mine rumored to lie in the hills surrounding Arizona's Superstition Mountain range is America's favorite lost treasure. Each year, more than 8,000 people set off for the mountains outside of Phoenix to search for German immigrant Jacob Waltz's mine (Germans were commonly known as Dutch in the 1800s).

"The Lost Dutchman's Grave"Wikimedia

Some say Waltz's hidden mine is just a fable, but we know the prospector really existed, and that's enough to send people searching year after year for the rumored gold vein in his lost dig site.

6. The Little Bighorn Treasure

The Battle of Little

Steamboat Captain Grant Marsh is known for two things: setting a speed record with his ship the Far West, and the gold he's rumored to have stashed while doing it. Marsh was supposed to bring reinforcements to General Custer at Little Bighorn, but wound up ferrying the General's wounded troops to safety after he lost his battle with Native American tribes.

Little Bighorn RiverWyoming Game & Fish Department

To carry as many wounded troops as possible without sinking his ship, Marsh is rumored to have buried $25,000 in U.S. Army currency (including bills, silver and gold bars) somewhere along the Bighorn River. Since 1876, no one has uncovered Marsh's stash.

There are many more treasures waiting to be found...

7. Forest Fenn's Treasure

This treasure hunt gained national attention after a pair of fortune seekers died on the hunt for buried loot. The treasure was hidden and publicized by Air Force pilot Forest Fenn. Finding an arrowhead as a child ignited Fenn's lifelong love of treasure hunting, and he hid his own stash of gold, jewelry and artifacts, leaving clues for others to follow in his footsteps.

Treasure hunter Forrest Fenn.Santa Fe New Mexican

But so far no one has been able to follow Fenn's nine clues to the treasure. He even hints that we could be reading them all wrong. Still, the allure of a $1-3 million jackpot keeps drawing new treasure hunters.

8. Dutch Schultz's Stash

While he's not as well known as crime bosses like Al Capone or Lucky Luciano, Schultz was the head of a criminal empire in New York city during the 1920s. At the height of his success, it's rumored his bootlegging operations made more than $20 million per year.

A map alleged to show the site of Schultz's treasure.Treasure Net

Schultz famously didn't like to pay his taxes, and is said to have hidden as much as $7 million in the Catskills Mountains before going to jail. Sadly, Schultz was shot soon after his release, and didn't reveal the location of his buried treasure before his death.

9. The Mojave Desert Ship

For decades there have been rumors of a ship filled with pearls hiding in a very unlikely place: the Mojave Desert. The legends tell of a strange high tide of the Gulf of California that combined with an overflowing Colorado river to carry the ship into a lake called the Salton Sea. A newspaper report from 1870 mentioned the ship had been uncovered, but there was no news after that.

The Salton sea lies at the low point of the Mojave Desert.Zoe Meyers / Jay Calderon

Of course, it's hard for treasure hunters to verify these claims, because that section of the desert is used as a bombing range by the U.S. Army, and they have no interest in checking for buried ships.

10. The Golden Owl

In 1993 a man writing under the name Max Valentin published a book called On the Trail of the Golden Owl. The book included clues which could guide readers to a golden owl statue buried somewhere in France. While the bird isn't worth much, Valentin promises a prize of $1 million francs to anyone who digs it up.

The Golden Owl, as seen on the book's cover.Express

While there are 11 clues to guide you to the statue, as of 2016 no one has found it yet. Happy hunting!

11. The Beale Ciphers

In the 1820s, a man named Thomas J. Beale and his partners uncovered a large vein of gold and silver in the Rocky Mountains. Beale buried his treasure somewhere, leaving three coded messages with a Lynchburg, Virginia innkeeper. Beale said he would return, but after decades no one had come to claim the treasure, so the innkeeper published the ciphers.

Promise to split the prize with me if you manage to solve this.Ancient Origins

The first two detail what's in the treasure and who it belongs to, and they were both solved. But the final cipher, which explains how to find the treasure, remains a mystery. If you can crack it, there could be $43 million in it for you.

12. The Atocha Wreck

Like the wreck of the San Miguel, the Nuestra Senora de Atocha was a treasure ship in a convoy, carrying copper, silver, gold and jewels from Spanish ports in the Caribbean back to Europe. The convoy's bounty was so huge it took two months to fully load it. But when the ships finally left port they were caught in a hurricane.

More than 24 tons of riches spilled into the sea, and while the Spanish and later modern treasure hunters scooped up thousands of coins, the most valuable parts of the treasure are still waiting under the waves.

13. Butch Cassidy's Treasure

One of the Wild West's most famous outlaws, Cassidy stole everything from money and gold to cattle during his long career. But it's not like rustlers can just take their ill-gotten gains and put them back in the bank. There's no shortage of rumors about where Cassidy left his loot, but the most popular is that he hid $20,000 somewhere in Colorado's Irish Canyon.

Happy hunting! Don't forget to share this list with someone you know!

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