4 Bizarre Hidden Treasures (Still Out There To Be Found)
Hey guys, let's get real for a second and talk about something we don't often get to talk about anymore. Sometimes, we here at Cracked miss the old days. That's right, we said it, for there are days — dark and difficult days — where we long, nay, ache for that time when, instead of having to supposedly invest in some drawing of a monkey online to "own a rich," we had to go on a kickass treasure hunting adventure and literally dig for our own personal wealth on this here planet.
Okay fine, none of us have ever actually grabbed a map and shovel and dug for gold that may or may not even be there, but man, did it look pretty badass in a couple of Hollywood movies. In any case, real people have totally struck gold this way, and we miss that. We miss that for other people. So we did a little prospecting ourselves to bring you the stories of hidden treasures still out there (allegedly) because we care about all of you, and we also hope you'll throw some nuggets our way before all currencies are reduced to NFTs that are just recordings of guys farting.
The Millionaire Who Buried Gold In New Mexico, Then Died
The year was 1933. Hitler was really getting into being Hitler, Disney released The Three Little Pigs, and the Great Depression was causing economic havoc all around the world. Truly, a huff and a puff of a dark time. That April, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 6102 that forbade anyone from hoarding gold anywhere in the United States, and citizens were forced to sell their shiny earth chunks to the government at below-market rates because it always seems to fall on the public to bail out the banks.
Naturally, opportunists with some foresight and means (read: money) were watching all of this unfold and making get-rich-quick plans faster than that one little piggy could build his house of straw.
One guy who looked at everything going down and decided to see how much money he could make from it was Leon Trabuco, a Mexican millionaire who was fairly sure that the U.S. would soon have to devalue the dollar and that the price of gold would shoot through the roof. That is why Trabuco and a couple of accomplices smuggled in some gold from Mexico and buried it somewhere on top of a hill in New Mexico where the government couldn't lay their hands on it. It's said that these guys made a total of 16 flights between Mexico and New Mexico over a couple of months, with each flight carrying a ton of gold ingots that were picked up by Trabuco's own truck and taken to be buried until the time came to cash in.
And yes, the time did come, sort of. In 1934, the Gold Reserve Act became law, the price of gold went up, and the potential profit of Trabuco's haul went up by $7 million, literally overnight. Yet everyone involved in the scheme decided to hold out on selling the smuggled gold because they believed the price would go even higher. Unfortunately, it seemed no one had told them about the additional Executive Order that now made private ownership of gold illegal in the U.S. Yeah, it turned out that their buried gold would be making them precisely zero cents in the states. Trabuco tried to sell it under the table, but no dice, and the guy died without ever seeing more riches added to his already other riches.
But here's the kicker: Trabuco never revealed to anyone exactly where he buried all the gold. His co-conspirators were not privy to this information, and he never made a map of the location either. Treasure hunters have been able to locate the landing strip of Trabuco's gold-smuggling flights, but that seems to be the most sort of conclusive evidence anyone's been able to find about the site of the now lost Mexican gold. Then there's an old house 20 miles from the strip that may or may not be Trabuco's humble abode, and some rock that apparently says "1933 16 ton." According to some, these three landmarks form a triangle in which Trabuco's gold was buried. Or, you know, maybe they form a triangle because it's just a pretty common shape.
The Many Conspiracies Surrounding The Lost Gold Of World War II
Some believe it to be a legend, while others believe that there most definitely is some good ol' gold stashed away in caves and tunnels inside the mountains of the Philippines. Named after the acclaimed Japanese general Tomoyuki Yamashita and collectively known as Yamashita's gold, the treasure is said to be war loot that was stolen by Japanese forces during their time in Southeast Asia.
Some are of the opinion that it actually doesn't exist. Others think the treasure may already have been found. One conspiracy theory claims it was secretly used by the Americans as dark money during the Cold War because the U.S./Russia angle truly is the Godwin's Law of conspiracy theories.
The story goes that while Japanese forces were war-ing their way through China and Southeast Asia, they were also collecting incredible fortune and stolen treasure along the way. But as the Allied forces started moving in on Japan's conquered territories by the end of 1944, Japanese forces knew their luck had run out and decided to bury their newly acquired treasures lest their enemies lay their scummy Allied hands on the loot.
The idea was to secretly go and collect the treasure after the war had ended and all possible scummy hands had retreated back to where they came from. Or at least, this is one of the theories used to explain why the Golden Lily tunnels were dug in the Philippine mountains. It's said that Yamashita dug the super special "tunnel 8" because everyone knows that no other number is as diabolical in both look and sound and that none other would therefore be as worthy as the magic number eight.
The story goes further and alleges that after Yamashita's tunnel was built and packed to the brim with that sweet, sweet war loot, the slaves and soldiers who built said tunnel were sealed in to die so that no one except Yamashita would know about the buried treasure. This whole plan, of course, hinged on Yamashita actually surviving any post-war prosecution, which, of course, he did not.
The tale of Yamashita's gold quickly spread, with many treasure hunters descending onto the island of Luzon where the tunnels are allocated, only to leave with nothing but more dust in their lungs. In the '70s, a treasure hunter named Rogelio Roxas claimed that somewhere in the '60s, a Japanese soldier gave him a map of the legendary Tunnel 8 and, while digging there for several years, he found a section filled with the skeletons of those slaves and soldiers who supposedly got locked in. Roxas also claimed that he had found the treasure, which included a golden statue of Buddha that weighed a good ton.
Enter Filipino president Ferdinand Marcos stage left because this story is as far from over as a monologue in a Mike Flanagan show. See, president Marcos heard about Roxas and his alleged find, so he sent his government guys to forcefully retrieve said or maybe just any treasure found in the guy's house. Roxas fled to the media, hoping to expose the president and get some justice, but instead, he was imprisoned and tortured by Marcos' men in the hopes that he'd tell them where he'd found the gold. He refused, spent a couple of years in jail, and later sued the former president for human rights abuse.
It was during the trial that the court first determined there wasn't enough evidence to conclude that the treasure actually existed. Our theory is that the gold was hexed by those slaves and soldiers to cause great suffering for anyone who laid their scummy little hands on it.
And that is why the Russians and/or the U.S. took most of it to the moon.
The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine
Believed to be hidden somewhere in Arizona's Superstition Mountains — no name more apt — the mine is named after German immigrant and prospector Jakob Waltz, who is said to have discovered it first somewhere in the 19th century. Like all others, Waltz also kept the location of his found treasure a secret because "keeping secrets best" is the number one prerequisite on the Treasure Claimer And/Or Burier application form.
The legend of the mine says that during the 1840s, a Mexican family named the Peraltas developed gold mines in the Superstitions and moved that gold back to Mexico. Their operation, however, was thwarted when the Apaches who occupied the region back then ambushed and killed most of the family and their workers in the area known today as Massacre Grounds.
Following the wipe-out, people started looking for the mine, but it was Waltz who claimed that with the help of a Peralta descendent, he was able to find it. Together with his partner, one Jacob Weiser, they apparently worked the mine and stashed a bit of gold in those mountains. It's alleged that Weiser was killed by either Apaches or Waltz himself because Treasure Claimer And/Or Burier is what you find in the center of a secrets/murder Venn diagram.
Before Waltz's death in 1881, he apparently mumbled a bunch of clues as to the location of the mine, with his fellow lodgers — a Miss Julia Thomas and her pal — listening closely while they stood by his deathbed. Miss Julia and pal were so psyched about the revelation of gold in yonder mountains that they drank way too much that night. By the dawn of the new light, they couldn't remember a thing ... except that there was gold in yonder mountains. Their mushy memories did not hold them back, however, and they went on a great expedition to try and find this not-a-Dutchman's lost gold mine.
They failed miserably and didn't even know that they had passed two other mines — the Black Queen and the Mammoth mine — that would later be discovered and yield millions of dollars in gold bullions.
The failure of finding Waltz's mine did not deter our Miss Julia, for just because one cannot find a treasure does not mean one cannot forge maps to
trick help others locate said treasure. Hard up for coin after their terribly expensive expedition left her completely bankrupt, Miss Julia became the first to produce actual yet fraudulent maps that would accompany many a treasure hunter on a quest first initiated by the ramblings of a feverish man on his deathbed going on about mountains of gold.
If this whole story doesn't sound like a Coen Brothers movie, we don't know what does.
A Bootlegger’s Millions Hidden In The Catskills
Dutch Schultz was an early 20th-century mobster. Born in the Bronx as Arthur Flegenheimer, he later became part of the Bronx's Frog Hollow Gang, who notoriously gave their toughest members the moniker, Dutch Schultz. Schultz became the first mobster to extort New York's labor unions and, after the fall of Al Capone in 1933, he became J. Edgar Hoover's Public Enemy No. 1.
Schultz was pretty skilled at deception and misdirecting people. He was constantly evading law enforcement, even avoiding a conviction on tax evasion -- a thing even Capone couldn't pull off. So it's kind of funny how the legend of his supposed hidden treasure all came about when he, too, rambled a bunch of feverish words during his last living moments.
On October 23, 1935, Schultz and his posse were gunned down by his fellow mobsters. For the next 24 hours, he lay dying in the hospital, blathering a stream of consciousness that would probably have inspired almost any 20th-century writer. It sure did everyone else. Those present at Schultz's deathbed — including the police — took great interest in what the mobster had to say. His ramblings went from strange, poetic phrases like, "A boy has never wept … nor dashed a thousand kin," to apparently telling whoever had an ear to spare that there was buried treasure in Phoenicia.
While some have said that any actual treasure was unlikely — no less because it was pretty difficult to imagine a city guy like Schultz digging holes up in the Catskills — it did not stop thousands of treasure hunters looking for what's now estimated to be somewhere close to $100 million valued loot of both cash and gold. One of the things a delirious Schultz said on his deathbed was, "Don't let Satan draw you too fast." Many believed it was actually code for the Catskills town of Phoenicia, which is filled with references to the devil.
Today, the legend of Schultz's buried Catskills treasure has become a tourism selling strategy, with people dragging their shovels and metal detectors across the landscape year in and year out. One detective claimed to have figured out the location, but when he got there, he found a hole and a tree next to it with the carving "1934." Man, these stories have an extraordinary amount of specific similarities.
But whatever, because who of us isn't going to believe the claims of buried treasure from a lying, dying man whose last words were, "French-Canadian bean soup!"
If you find one of these treasures, please find Zanandi’s details over on Twitter.