Treasures in Florida
Updated: Apr 1, 2022
Who doesn't like a little fun in the sun? Picture this, walking down the beach, enjoying a
piña colada, and watching the sunset when all of a sudden you see something really shiny catch the light from the sun. As you move closer you notice that it looks like a coin half buried in the sand, but it is of foreign origins. As you take it and inspect it further, you notice that it has a cross on one side and some sort of crest on the other. Well, my friend, you may have just found an old Spanish Doubloon, and I am now very jealous.
Over the years, especially the past 4 or 5 decades, Florida has been a huge hotspot for gold, silver, artifacts, jewels, you name it. But why is that? Before we totally dive into some of the treasures that you can possibly still find, let's talk about someone very special to treasure hunting in Florida, Mel Fisher.
I. Mel Fisher
Mel Fisher was a treasure hunter, originally from Indiana, who moved to California and set up his very own dive shop, "See Da Sea", which was turned out to be the first diving shop in the state. After then moving to Florida, he started his search for the "Nuestra Señora de Atocha". The Atocha was a Spanish Galleon that sunk off the coast of the Florida Keys in 1622 due to a very strong hurricane.
The legend behind this galleon captivated treasure hunters for years, but no one could find it. Some eventually started to believe that it simply did not exist. Nonetheless, Mel Fisher and his crew spent years trying to find it and finally did. Many years of hardship led them to 40 tons of gold and silver. After a lengthy battle with the state of Florida, Mel was awarded 100% of the treasure. He would go on to find much more shipwrecks, and recovered more artifacts from the infamous, 1715 Treasure Fleet...
II. The 1715 Treasure Fleet
The 1715 Treasure Fleet is probably THE biggest draw to treasure seekers to Florida. Yes, there are plenty of other fantastic lost treasures out there, but none are as popular as the 1715 Fleet. As the story goes, on the orders of King Philippe V of Spain, who was actually French, a fleet of galleons from the New World would bring back gold, silver, jewels, and any other valuables. The reasoning behind this, is because Spain was at war with England and needed funding in order to finance.
The trip back from the Caribbean to Europe was a treacherous one, so the fleet decided it would head back during the normally calmer, summer months. So the fleet assembled and prepped out of Havana, Cuba. Eleven ships in all, the fleet was made up of the Flota de Nueva España and the Escuadrón de Tierra Firme. The former had the trade routes out of Mexico while the latter had routes out of Cartagena, Columbia. They were escorted by one French ship commanded by Captain Antoine d'Aire.
On the morning of July 24th, 1715, the fleet set sail for Spain. At first, it was calm, but 5 or 6 days later winds started to pick up as well as large swells from the Southeast. By the 31st of July, early in the morning, all eleven ships were one by one pushed into the reefs and shores off of the East Coast of Florida, in present day Sebastian. Billions worth of gold, silver, and other valuables were lost. Whereas, 7 of the ships have been discovered with treasures tagged along, the rest have not been, including the famous, Nuestra Señora de la Concepción.
Even if you don't have the boats, diving gear, and special detecting equipment to go searching for these ships on the water, I would still highly suggest renting or buying a metal detector, to comb the beaches, as plenty of searchers have found gold and jewels that have been washed ashore. The area known as Treasure Coast stretches from Sebastian all the way down to Jupiter. I'll race ya there!
III. Black Caesar
Now this is a story that I actually just found out about. Well, there were actually two Black Caesars that were pirates, a hundred years apart. The first Black Caesar was a pirate/slave from Western Africa that joined forces with none other than Blackbeard himself. But that doesn't seem to be the story with the treasure! That's what we are interested in, right?
The Black Caesar we are interested in is Henri Caesar, also a slave, who was from Haiti and born in 1791. Before he turned pirate, he worked on a slave plantation and was part of the Haitian revolution against France. By 1804 Haiti had been freed and Black Caesar set out to see to try his hand at pirating.
During his spree as a pirate, Black Caesar captured the Spanish ship in the area of
Port-de-Paix and also pillaged and ransacked villages in Cuba and the Bahamas. Black Caesar was really starting to get a reputation that was both scary and incredibly intimidating. He had a very successful pirating career, but eventually disappeared in 1830. His whereabouts remain a discussion and a mystery to this day.
What is also a mystery and a discussion is where he hid his $2-$6 million dollar treasure! People believe that he buried it somewhere close to his base in Southern Florida. Areas of Marco Island, Pine Island, White Horse Key, and Sanibel Island have been listed as primary spots to look. I wish you best of luck!
IV. Confederate Gold Florida
Oh the famous and very mysterious Confederate Gold hunt. It seems that once the Confederacy fell the gold and monetary means of the South vanished in all which ways of the States. That makes this story that much more exciting!
When the Richmond, Virginia fell to the Union, Confederate President Jefferson Davis fled South by train with his cabinet members as well as the aforementioned, Gold of the Confederacy. Along with the gold and crew are very important Confederate documents. So I think you can easily say that this gold is a treasure trove for the North.
There were plans to continue the the Confederate movements further South, like in Cuba, the Bahamas, and the Southern part of Florida. However, due to complications with the train tracks, the cargo was offloaded in Washington, Georgia, split between multiple parties, and then sent off in multiple directions. Perhaps this is why we hear stories of Confederate Gold in places like Michigan and even as far West as Utah.
One of these wagons did indeed go South to Florida. Ten Rebel soldiers made it to Cotton Wood, Florida, where the former United States Senator, David Levy Yulee lives. Unfortunately he is away and they receive news from his wife, that President Davis has been captured by the Union. From there again, the ten soldiers divvy up the gold and when Mr. Yulee arrives, he tells them to surrender to the Union. They obliged, but when they did, they had nothing on them and made no mention of the Gold. Rumors are they could have buried it close to Cotton Wood along the old railroad tracks. Can you find it?
There are many other great Florida treasures out there to be found, but these are just some of the ones that I found most interesting. I challenge you to get out there and Seek Fortuna!
For more info, history, and the fantastic, interactive hidden treasures map, follow the link join the Seek Fortuna crew!
Also check out my latest blog all about more 10 Hidden Treasures You Have Probably Never Heard Of .
And in case I don't see you, Good Afternoon, Good Evening, and Goodnight!