Pirate lore is
rife with tales of hidden treasure and maps where “X” marks the spot, but there
are only a few reliable accounts of buccaneers actually burying their loot. One
early example concerns the English privateer Francis Drake. After a 1573 raid
on a Spanish mule train, he and his men interred several tons of gold and
silver along the Panamanian coast to prevent it from being recaptured. Drake
left guards at the site, however, and quickly retrieved the booty after
rendezvousing with his ships.
Another sea rogue who was not so fortunate was
Captain William Kidd, the notorious privateer-turned-pirate who became a wanted
man for plundering shipping in the Indian Ocean. In 1699, Kidd dropped anchor
near New York and buried the modern equivalent of millions of dollars in gold
and jewels on tiny Gardiners Island. He was soon arrested in Boston while
trying to clear his name, and it wasn’t long before the authorities tracked
down and confiscated most of the ill-gotten treasure. Kidd, meanwhile, was
transported to London and executed by hanging.
other pirate myths, the concept of buried plunder was popularized by author
Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1883 novel “Treasure Island,” which involves a hunt
for a cache of gold hidden by a salty ship captain. Yet according to maritime
historian David Cordingly, the buccaneers of old were rarely so frugal. Rather
than turning a hole in the ground into a savings account, they were more likely
to squander their spoils on women, rum and gambling as soon as they returned to
real life pirate hoards were rare, legends still abound about long lost riches
squirreled away on deserted islands. One of the most famous tales concerns the
so-called “Treasure of Lima,” a haul of Spanish gold, silver and jewels
supposedly stolen by a British ship captain named William Thompson and buried
on Costa Rica’s Cocos Island around 1820. The loot is rumored to be worth
around $200 million, but despite decades of searching, would-be treasure
hunters have yet to track it down.
Clancy's comment: Imagine what treasures have never been found? I'm ...