Long Beard's Blog

20 Feb 2021

There's Gold In Them There Hills!

Coins | Long Beard

The subject of this week's blog struck like a hammer falling from a ladder on the head. Which, by the way, nearly happened while remodeling. Here's your sign. Anyway, that in question arose while watching the movie National Treasure with my best half and her son this past weekend. Whether one collects coins or not, who doesn't dream of finding treasure? Every few years or so stories emerge of someone finding as much, whether it be a few coins or notes discovered in an old home or a stash dug from the ground. In most cases by accident or pure luck as some might term it. And then there are those purposely hidden in secrecy for a variety of reasons still waiting to be brought to light. The subject of this week's blog. Enjoy!

What exactly is it that captivates the imagination of finding hidden treasure? From the time we were children legends have swirled and tales told of such things. For some, as adults, these very tales continue to linger in the hopes of proving them so. One prime example happens in the days following landfall of a hurricane, when dozens or more armed with metal detectors comb the beach looking for washed up booty from a sunken ship. While others look inland for buried or stashed loot based on age old legend, clues in such cases as the famous Beale Papers. Millions worth of gold and silver hidden somewhere in the hills of Virginia back in the 1830's. Conventional wisdom dictates that a large percentage of these are simply that. Legends, tales or hoaxes. Yet as evident by past discoveries, how does one say which is true and which is false? Obviously there is at least a partial truth. While there are literally tens of thousands of such "stories", this blog will touch on a few of the more plausible tales and show that treasure in fact exist. In fact, much closer than you would think.

After reading, and before breaking out the metal detector and shovel, there are some basic things which must be understood. The first, and most important, X does not mark the spot. Never assume that a "map" will lead you to treasure. Only vigorous research will prove fruitful. While the internet is an easy source to research from, be aware of who wrote it and how many times. Compare different sites for similarities and irregularities. The best sources are still written accounts in the form of old newspaper articles or old books. Visit local museums. If possible, talk with someone still alive or a close surviving relative. And finally, obtain accurate maps of the area at the time in question. These can be found at the Library of Congress or through their web-site.

Okay. Ready to start searching? Here are few recent discoveries to give inspiration. Sometime prior to 2010, a retired Air Force Captain by the name of Forrest Fenn decided to bury a large amount of gold, jewels and other artifacts after diagnoses with cancer in 1988. Nearly twenty years later, following a 24-line poem, the chest was discovered in June of 2020. Another recent find, the Saddle Ridge Hoard in 2013. A couple were merely walking their dog on their property when the wife spotted a rusty metal can protruding from the ground. The can contained 1,427 gold coins dated 1847-1894. While the who and why it was placed there is a mystery.

A simple "lost treasure" search lead to far more results in my own state, many only a few hours drive. All but perhaps a dozen, were stashed for several reasons. In the early to mid-1800's, in Ambridge/Economy, PA there was a Utopian society called the Economities would believed wealth was for the collective whole. They stashed over 100,000 in coin, in 1878 75,000 of it was found below an old church comprised of Capped Bust quarters, Flowing and Draped Bust half dollars. There supposedly remains some 60,000 face value still unaccounted for. Finally, due to space constraints, there are countless stories of hidden stashes in 1864 around Pittsburgh as Confederate Calvaryman John Hunt Morgan was just across the Ohio River to the west. In the east, Robert E. Lee. So with a search of your own, you will find similar treasures in your own state. However, the easiest as most likely where you would discover a treasure may be your own back yard. During the Great Depression, or any hardship at the time, ordinary people literally buried their money in the yard. I personally have found such on my great Uncles property many years ago. A quart jar of silver, not worth much above face. But an exciting find none the less. Another, which my neighbor found, came from the house he bought. In the basement tucked into the floor joists or behind door jams and walls. His haul was a in the thousands.

In closing, we'll discuss the search and retrieval. If your searching for buried coinage, expect it to be on average eight inches down. Most metal detectors will not reach to those depths. For larger hoards, or if it's ingots of precious metal, expect it to be six feet at a minimum. In fact, when Spain controlled parts of the country, a minimum depth of thirty feet was required if buried under the penalty of death! And there are rumors of buried silver by them in eastern and north-central Pennsylvania.

Let the hunt begin! And I hope to read your name in the paper or see it on the news.


I always wanted to dig up coins in my backyard. My brother put coins under a rock for people to find in the future. He wants them to become "rich". And I was asking my mom to let me get a metal detector, but she's not letting me. You said your neighbor found some coins in the house he bought? What were they?


Level 5

Thanks for posting LB. I found your post most interesting, and I resemble all of the above remarks!


Level 5

You are making me want to dig up my backyard. My friend once went metal detecting around the streets, but for some reason, Ketchup packets was giving off a signal. We only found a memorial cent, but it we still had a good time. Thanks for sharing!


Level 5

Amazing! National Treasure is an absolute fav!!! I mean, how can you not LOVE Rylie!! Thanks for sharing!


Level 5

Excellent blog! Living just off the beach now, I'm going to have metal detector fun! You're correct, for most of us, the fun is in the hunt, I wouldn't turn down a fantastic find though. Later!


Level 6

Really enjoyed your blog! Wouldn't that be grand to find treasure! Keep searching!! ; )

I. R. Bama

Level 5

One of these days I have to explore the inside of the chimney of the log cabin on my property. Also there is a trap door that I should dig in to see what is there

Mr. B Coins

Level 4

I feel like I've already struck gold just by reading this column. Very interesting!! When we bought our old house, All I found was two pint whiskey bottles. You guessed it, they were empty. Oh well, the search goes on. Good article. Mr. B


Level 5

I think we all dream of finding a stash somewhere. Just hiking makes me think of finding old coins. Would be quite something to find a can of old coins. Nice storys.


Level 6

In my opinion and I could be wrong, the treasure is in the hunt. Always has been for me. Most likely not what you are looking for but treasure nevertheless. Thanks. Cool blog.

It's Mokie

Level 6

David Bowers has written a fascinating book about treasure hoards titled Lost and Found Coin Hoards and Treasures: Illustrated Stories of the Greatest American Troves and Their Discoveries. Well worth finding if you want to stir the treasure hunter in your soul. Thanks for a great Blog, LB.


Level 7

To dream! It takes luck like the couple we heard about with the cans. Or have a treasure chest full of money. To find money.Backers with millions. Equipment experts no X never marks the spot. Legends of lost gold and silver It's out there. But where? To find a treasure its meant to be. If not save what you got. You can watch all the shows on T.V.. . I dont. How many shows actually find gold over all the years.. It's great the rich find it . Then they sell it to us for more money. I wish you all the luck!


Level 5

Thanks for an interesting inspiring blog! I have a metal detecter and have tried my back yard, leading only to several hundred zinc pennies, and a few quarters dimes and nickels. And most of all, lots of holes lol, my dad didn't really appreciate that, even though I filled the holes in the best I could, the grass still died. I have also tried at two beach houses that my family have rented, and I will tell you, they are pretty good places to hunt because, first of all, there is only sand to dig in, so it is a lot easier to retrieve various items and refill holes. And second of all, typically lots of people have been there and dropped coins and other items. I found and old flip phone, the biggest fish hook I have ever seen, and a bunch of coins. I have yet to be able to metal detect an older property or find silver, but I hope I will one day!

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