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Lost Treasure Tales

When I was in eighth grade, my parents gave me a book called Lost Treasure Trails by Thomas Penfield. I was enthralled as I read of pirates and their buried chests of gold, galleons loaded with bullion sunk in storms, and gold mines found and lost. I told everyone about that book, and it became the basis for book reports and research articles for years to come. It began a lifelong interest in lost treasures and pirates. And not just for me. It is still in print and available in hardback and paperback on along with other books on treasure hunting by Penfield and other authors.

What may seem like fairy tales for an overactive imagination (guilty) is legitimized by the fact that many states have laws regarding the disposition for found treasure, including what is salvaged from sunken ships. As for pirates, the International Maritime Organization reports on piracy and pirate attacks against shipping worldwide. In 2020, there were 195 pirate attacks. Probably none of those pirates say, “Aargh.”

You might think that such an interest would lead me to a career in archaeology. This didn’t happen because in high school, I heard a woman archaeologist talk boringly about her career, and she wasn’t finding gold and gemstones. No, she was digging under the hot sun for bits of clay pots. That didn’t appeal at all to my colorful imagination. I don’t even join amateur digs. Laboring for hours under a hot sun would set me up for a migraine for sure.

Thanks to the History Channel, we all have heard of the “The Curse of Oak Island.” In the last episode I watched, Rick Lagina mentioned the Re

ader’s Digest article he’d read when he was a kid that began his fascination with Oak Island. I read the same article and was also fascinated. One day I’ll visit the site, but bringing in heavy equipment and spending millions of dollars is beyond my ability or interest. Still, I hope they find it.

Another treasure story that interested me when I was growing up in Maryland, was about a merchant in nearby Catonsville, who hid un unspecified treasure on his property. I badgered my mother into visiting Catonsville to see what the possibilities were. I had no idea Catonsville was built up as a suburb of Baltimore and I didn’t have an address for the merchant so the trip was a bust. Recently, I talked with a man who was running historical tours of Catonsville. He had heard of the treasure and even knew the likely site. As far as he knew, no one had found it and now it was likely buried under an elementary school.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go back to and see if I can find a book about lost treasures in Maryland. I have a car and a shovel.


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