13 Lost Treasures of Florida (2022)

Florida the sunshine state was admitted to the Union on March 3, 1847. Although Florida is known for its warm sunshiny days, golf courses, Disney World, and a retirement paradise it also has many lost treasure tales to tell. From Pirates to shipwrecks along its coastline to its history of explorers it’s no wonder that Florida has lost treasure to be found.

So sit back, relax and enjoy as I take you on a virtual journey of the 13 lost treasures of Florida. And who knows maybe you will be one of the lucky few who finds buried treasure in Florida. But before you dig make sure you have permission or the right permits.

13 Lost Treasure of Florida

TREASUREAMOUNTLOCATION
The Ashley Gangs Buried Loot$360,000Everglades
Spanish Gold Buried on St. George Island$6 Million Worth of Gold BarsSt. George Island in Franklin County Florida
Billy Bowlegs Buried Pirate TreasureThousands of dollars worth of gold and silverSanta Rosa Island
Sunken Pirate Ship at the Mouth of the Swanee River$5 Million in gold and silver coinsNear the mouth of the Swanee River
Lost Million Dollar Confederate Payroll$1 Million in gold and currencyBetween Alligator Alley and State Highway 41 close to the Seminole Indian reservation in the Everglades
75 Shipwrecks Near St. AugustineUnknown amountsSt. Augustine, Florida
Richard Crowes Buried Treasure$60,000 in gold coinsSt. Augustine. Florida
1733 Spanish Armada Galleon Wrecks$4 Million in gold and silver coinsOff theFlorida Keys
Wisteria Island Treasures$50,000 in currencyWisteria Island
Black Caesars Buried TreasureUnknown AmountCaesars Rock Island in Biscayne Bay
Don Felipe’s Buried Family FortuneUnknown amounts of gold and silver heirlooms and coins2 miles Northwest of Ocala, Florida
Copeland and The Money Bayou3 Kegs of Gold and SilverMoney Island near Apalachicola
The Legend of Jose Gaspar GasparillaUnknown AmountsAll over Florida

The Ashley Gangs Buried Loot

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Around 1915 the Ashley Gang was formed. John Ashley the leader of the gang was an outlaw from 1910 to 1924. In and around the Everglades of Florida. Ashley was known as the ” King of the Everglades” and the “Swamp Bandit”. He was also a bootlegger, bank robber, and later day pirate.

The Ashley gang stole over $1 million from 40 banks during their career. They also Hijacked shipments of illegal whiskey that were coming through Florida from the Bahamas. The newspapers of the time said that John Ashley was a character much like Jesse James. All the members of the Ashley gang were eventually killed.

It is believed that $110,000 was buried by John Ashley and his girlfriend Laura Upthegrove on the Southern end of Lake Okeechobee. Another story states that the Ashley gang buried $250,000 in various stashes in the Everglades in the St. Lucie Inlet.

To this day only $32,000 worth of the Ashley gang’s stolen loot has ever been found. The rest is presumed buried somewhere in the Everglades of Florida.

13 Lost Treasures of Florida (2)

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(Video) Hunting for Florida's lost treasures

Spanish Gold Buried on St. George Island

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St. George Island is located on Floridas Panhandle in Franklin County, Florida. A mission called San Juan del Puerto was built on the island in 1580 by the Spaniards. Earlier in 1570, the Spaniards built a for at what’s now Cape Canaveral that was used to help survivors of shipwrecks that occurred frequently off the coast there.

Many Spanish gold and silver coins have been found on St. George Island by treasure seekers and Archeologists. It is said that the Spanish had buried clay vessels filled with gold bars on the eastern end of the island near Apalachicola. The clay vessels are said to be buried eight feet deep into the ground. The gold bars are estimated to be worth $6 million.

If the legend is true there would be gold bars just waiting to be dug up on the eastern end of St. George Island in Florida! If you are looking to discover this treasure you would want to bring along a top-of-the-line metal detector and a good metal-detecting digging toolbecause you will be digging eight feet down. Maybe a backhoe would be a better option lol!

Billy Bowlegs Buried Pirate Treasure

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Santa Rosa Island Dunes ByDanielos , CC BY-SA 2.5, Link

William “Billy Bowlegs” Rogers was nicknamed Billy Bowlegs after one of the last Seminole war chiefs. Rogers was a member of Jean Lafitte’s pirate crew in 1812. Rogers started his own pirate fleet in 1818. Rogers and his group of pirates stole from Spanish ships that frequented the northern Gulf coast of Florida until 1838. Rogers has amassed a fortune in stolen gold and silver during this time.

Legend has it that Rogers buried his stolen fortune of gold and silver in various locations in Florida.

Santa Rosa Island

It is said that Rogers had hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gold and silver on his private ship. he believed it wasn’t safe to store this much treasure on his ship so he set anchor near Santa Rosa Island and decided to bury some of his gold and silver ingots there.

Treasure seekers believe that the ingots are buried on the north shore of Santa Rosa Island. This is just speculation thou and the loot could be buried on a number of “sandy islands” in the region.

Treasure on the Mainland

Legend also has it that a large cache of coins and other stolen jewelry could be buried on the mainland of Florida. Besides treasure being buried in Santa Rosa Island which seems to be the most likely place many treasure hunters speculate that treasure from Rogers could be buried in a number of other locations including:

  • Islands in Choctawhatchee Bay
  • North Gulf Coast
  • Mullet Creek
  • Franklin County
  • Under a Palm Tree at Bald Point
  • Fort Walton Beach
  • A Cavern Below Fort San Carlos

Rogers Sinks His Own Ship

In 1840 Rogers decided to get back in the pirate business. Rogers and 27 of his former pirate crew started to loot ships in the Gulf Coast once again. All went well for the Pirates until they ran up against a British Man o War. Rogers was subsequently chased back to his home base. They were able to go across the sand bars into the lagoon but the British had to stop before entering the lagoon with the large ship.

The British started lowering their smaller vessels into the water so Rogers decided to sink his own ship so the British wouldn’t be able to capture it.

(Video) Most Valuable Lost Treasures Nobody Can Find

Once the British saw the ship had sunk they lost interest and took off. Rogers decided to leave his crew at the lagoon and left for New Orleans to get some diving equipment so they could recover the sunken loot. But when Rogers returned most of his crew had been killed by Indians or died of fever. Rogers’s wife was still alive but died shortly after of fever. After the death of his wife, Rogers lost interest in recovering the treasure.

The exact location of Rogers sunken schooner is unknown but treasure seekers speculate a few different areas including:

  • Bird Island
  • Somewhere in the Choctawhatchee Bay
  • The mouth of the Swanee River
  • Apalachicola Bay

So the treasure could be anywhere in these areas. Hopefully, someday the shipwreck will be uncovered and we will finally know the exact whereabouts of Roger’s sunken treasure!

Sunken Pirate Ship at the Mouth of the Swanee River

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The Swanee River in Florida By Mike Tilley, CC BY 3.0, Link

It is said that there is a sunken pirate ship lying at the mouth of the Swanee River. The ship contained $5 million in gold and silver coins. It is said to be lying in 25 feet of water north of Big Bradford Island.

In 1953 fishermen in the area dredged up with their nets $625,000 of the treasure. They had been fishing for hours before they pulled in their nets so the exact location of the treasure is unknown and still out there near the mouth of the Swanee River in Florida.

Lost Million Dollar Confederate Payroll

This story rings true because it is actually documented. The story goes that confederate soldiers led by Captian John Riley were transporting a million-dollar payroll to Fort Mead, Florida were being followed by Union troops. John Riley stated they buried $200,000 in gold coins and the rest in paper currency. He wrote:

Chased by the enemy, we buried our payroll at a point in the Everglades at a Junction of two creeks, where the land rises like a camels back. The money is buried in the hump of the rise.

Captain Riley and his men went and hid in the Everglades but when they came back to retrieve the buried payroll they couldn’t find it.

It is believed that the buried payroll is located between Alligator Alley and State Highway 41 close to the Seminole Indian reservation.

75 Shipwrecks Near St. Augustine

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St. Augustine Island By Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

There are said to be 75 shipwrecks near St. Augustine, Florida. To enter the lagoon there is a large sand bar that must be crossed. This is how so many ships ran aground and sunk here.

(Video) Lost Treasure You Can Still Find

With all these wrecks in the area, gold and silver coins from various centuries wash ashore here. So if you are ever in the area of St. Augustine get your metal detector ready and start metal detecting on the beaches for after storms the oceans give up some of their lost treasure from long ago sunken ships.

Richard Crowes Buried Treasure

Richard Crowe was a wealthy merchant in the late 1800s. He died in 1894 and left a note in his will stating that he had buried $60,000 in gold coins on his property in St. Augustine. Florida. Treasure hunters have searched his property but the gold coins have never been found and could still be there waiting for discovery.

1733 Spanish Armada Galleon Wrecks

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In 1733 there was a Spanish Armada of ships in the Florida Keys. In July of 1733, there was a huge hurricane that blew through the area and sunk 20 Spanish Galleons. The Spaniards worked for three years salvaging the ships and they were able to recover $12 million in treasure but they left approximately $4 million in gold and silver in the coins.

There are six known shipwrecks in the area that possibly hold the $4 million in treasure. The wrecks are lying in shallow water only 10-14 feet deep. They are:

  1. Dispatch Boat the El Aviso – Located at the south end of Pacific Reef
  2. A 60 Gun Galleon the El Infante – Lyingon Little Conch Reef
  3. The Capitana San Jose – Lying on Crocker Reef
  4. Seven Merchantmen vessels – Lying between Upper Matecumbe and Long Key
  5. A 58 Gun Galleon the Almiranta – Located off Long Key Point
  6. A Merchantmen Vessel the San Fernando – Located off Grassy Key

These are six of the ships found by scuba divers. There could be millions of dollars worth of gold and silver just waiting for a recovery in the Florida Keys off of St. Augustine. Be prepared to do some underwater metal detecting if you want to find any of these sunken treasures. Other good places to search for this treasure would be on the beaches around St. Augustine Lagoon.

Wisteria Island Treasures

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Wisteria IslandBy, CC BY 2.0, Link

There are a few treasure stories associated with Wisteria Island that lies at the mouth of Tampa Bay. A bank robber is said to have buried $50,000 in paper currency here. He died in prison before he could return for the loot.

In the 1930s many rumrunners are said to have buried their loot here that they acquired from the selling of booze. And the Pirate Gasparilla is said that he had his headquarters on Wisteria Island and some of his pirate treasure is buried here. Wisteria Island is also known as Christmas Tree Island because of the many Australian Pines that grow here.

Black Caesars Buried Treasure

Black Caesar’s real name was Henri Caesar. He was a Haitian pirate in the crew of Blackbeard serving on the ship Queen Anne’s Revenge. He lived from 1791 to 1830. Caesar survived the attack that took the life of Blackbeard in 1718.

It is said that Black Caesar and Blackbeard had their headquarters at Caesars Rock which is a small island in Biscayne Bay. He became a privateer after he killed the Captain of one of the ships he was working on. He pirated for 28 years after Blackbeard’s death.

Legend has it that his vast riches from years of plunder on the high seas is buried on Caesars Rock. This little island can be found between Elliot Key and Adams Key Islands.

Don Felipe’s Buried Family Fortune

Not a whole lot of information on this treasure tale but supposedly a Spaniard named Don Felipe buried gold and silver Heirlooms and coins on his plantation at the time of the Seminole War. Felipe was killed by Indians and his treasure has not been recovered.

There is no trace of his plantation but it is said to have been located 2 miles Northwest of Ocala, Florida.

(Video) America Unearthed: Epic Hunt for the Holy Grail in Nova Scotia (S1, E13) | Full Episode | History

Copeland and The Money Bayou

The Money Bayou is named after this lost treasure story. You can find Money Island near Apalachicola. The Money Bayou is on a spot off of the Coastal Highway there.

Legend has it that pirate by the name of Copeland buried three kegs of gold and silver here. There was a treasure map that those who followed it did spot the kegs of treasure but the kegs vanished in the quicksand of the swamp before they could retrieve it.

There could be three kegs of treasure sunk deep in the Money Bayou just waiting to be discovered!

The Legend of Jose Gaspar Gasparilla

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There is no real account of the man named Jose’ Gaspar nicknamed Gasparilla. But legend has it that he was one of the most successful pirates of his time. There are numerous albeit contradicting stories of his life and his buried treasure all over Florida. He supposedly based his operations on the Upper Captiva Island off of Fort Meyer, Florida.

The actual story of Gasparilla was first mentions in a brochure the was entitled ” The Story of Gasparilla”. Charlotte Harbor and Northern Railway produced the brochure for their resort called the Gasparilla Inn Resort. There is even a Gasparilla festival each year in Tampa Bay, Florida.

I will not go into detail about all the supposed buried treasure of Gasparilla because I personally don’t believe he ever existed and was a made-up story to get tourists to visit the Gasparilla Inn Resort. But if you do a Google search on Gasparilla or Jose’ Gaspar you will find more information than you would care to read on this supposed pirate and his many buried treasure tales.

Lost Treasures of Florida Conclusion

Along with these 13 lost treasures of Florida, there are countless shipwrecks filled with treasure and ruins of old forts that have artifacts of old that litter Florida and its coastline. If you ever get a chance to go to Florida make sure you check out all the wonderful places not always on the beaten path and maybe you will discover your own lost treasure in the great state of Florida.

I hope you enjoyed our journey and if you have any questions or comments please leave them in the comments section below. Until next time Happy Treasure Hunting!

13 Lost Treasures of Florida (11)

Cory Haasnoot

(Video) America Unearthed: The Secret Swamp People of Florida (S2, E11) | Full Episode | History

Cory Haasnoot is an author, entrepreneur, metal detecting enthusiast, antique, coin collector, and founder of Treasure Seekr.

FAQs

Is there any lost treasure in Florida? ›

Indian River Shores, Florida — A trove of Spanish coins dating back to a 1715 shipwreck during a storm have been found along a beach in Florida. CBS affiliate WPEC-TV reported that 43-year-old treasure hunter Jonah Martinez located the coins using a metal detector.

Where is the gold treasure in Florida? ›

Florida's Treasure Coast: Sometimes There Really is Gold at the End of the Rainbow!
  • Cape Canaveral. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
  • Melbourne Pier Beach.
  • Sebastian Inlet. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
  • Lori Wilson Park. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
  • Wabasso, Florida. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
  • Melbourne Beach, Florida.
Sep 1, 2021

What happens if you find treasure in Florida? ›

If you find simple trinkets on a public beach or private property, then you can probably keep those items. Some counties and parks require you to report any found item (in case someone has reported it lost), but most public beaches do not have that stipulation.

Can I keep treasure I find? ›

In the U.S., laws vary by state, but the general conclusion is that going treasure hunting is often a waste of time because you likely can't keep it. The Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 states that any “archaeological resources” found on the land of the state belong to the government.

Where has the most treasure been found in Florida? ›

Sebastian Inlet

Sebastian Inlet is at the center of the Treasure Coast and is said to be the best place to metal detect in Florida. In the 1980s, treasures with an estimated worth of $300,000 were found within the area.

What beach in Florida has the most treasure? ›

Sebastian Inlet is at the center of what's known as the Treasure Coast, and prime sites for searching for gold stretch several miles north and south. Vero Beach, Bonsteel Park, Melbourne Beach, Aquarina Beach, Wabasso Beach and Pepper Park Beach are places worth searching.

Is metal detecting legal in Florida? ›

Metal-detecting is permitted; however, removing natural elements from parks and beaches is prohibited. As always, fill in any holes you create. Metal-detecting is permitted; however, removing natural elements from parks and beaches along with excavations is prohibited.

Did pirates hide treasure in Florida? ›

History is full of stories about pirates and how they had to bury their stolen treasures. With all the coastline in Florida, this area has lots of pirate stories and hidden caches. One of them was told above about Billy Bowleg, another is Black Caesar.

Can u find gold in Florida? ›

There are no known gold deposits in Florida. In fact, it may be the only state in the United States where there has been no gold discoveries.

Can you metal detect Florida Treasure Coast? ›

You can dive on Treasure Coast wrecks, however, you must NOT have a metal detector in the ocean lease site, and you must stay 300 feet away from dive boats that are working the lease area. Do NOT bring a metal detector within the 3,000 yard radius lease area while in the water.

What would happen if you found gold in your backyard? ›

If you did happen to find a large gold deposit on your property and do not own the mineral rights, don't fear. You do still own the property at least from the ground up. The mineral rights owner cannot simply come and remove you and dig up your property.

Can you keep treasure found at sea? ›

A common misconception is that finders can keep their discoveries at sea. But under international law, anyone who finds a wreck must report it.

What happens if you find a gold bar? ›

Usually, you'll be able to reclaim the property if no one steps up to claim it. If you're unsure of the value of the bar, it's best to find out by consulting with an expert in precious metals who can guide you through the next steps.

Is it illegal to keep buried treasure? ›

If the property is worth less than $250, the finder can keep it after 90 days. However, if you find lost property and don't try to return it or report it, then you are guilty of theft.

Can you dive for treasure in Florida? ›

Certified scuba divers can do just that under a new program called “Treasure Hunter for the Day” which allows mere mortals to help recover treasures from a fleet of sunken Spanish galleons near Sebastian, Fla. Some of the wrecks lie in only 20 feet of water.

What part of Florida is considered the Treasure Coast? ›

The Treasure Coast is located on the southeastern coast of Florida. The region is comprised of three counties: Indian River County, St. Lucie County and Martin County.

How much is the 1715 treasure fleet worth? ›

Aboard this ship was “The Atocha Motherlode” which included 40 tons of gold and silver, plus 114,000 Spanish silver coins. In total, the cache was worth $450 million. Mel Fisher's Treasures eventually sold the rights to the shipwreck to another treasure hunting company, Queens Jewels, LLC.

Do I need a license to metal detect on the beach? ›

Do you need a License to metal detect on the beach? Instead of needing a license to use your metal detector on the beach, you are often required to have a permit. Most beaches, if not all, are owned by the local council, and you require a permit to use your metal detector on them.

Are there diamonds in Florida? ›

Three hundred and twenty-six diamonds were found on St. Pete Beach between July 14 and 19, 1996, all sparkling for the Conchologists of America Annual convention. Most of these gems were set in the beautiful TradeWinds resort, but all did not stay there the entire week.

Can I metal detect in Florida waters? ›

Unfortunately, the law does not allow metal detecting in the water. According to the State of Florida, anything submerged in the water belongs to the state. So, by metal detecting in the water, you're on State property. This law also includes wet beach sand below the high-water line.

Is treasure hunting legal in Florida? ›

Treasure hunting has been legal in Florida since the 1960's. Recently, however, groups of marine archaeologists are fighting to have the practice outlawed. Many in this camp consider treasure hunting to be little more than state-sanctioned looting of what they believe should be deemed historical sites.

Where are the best places to metal detect? ›

20 Places to Metal Detect: A List of the Best Places to Go Metal...
  • Your own front and back yard. ...
  • School Yards or Grounds. ...
  • Sporting Fields. ...
  • Old Drive-In Theaters. ...
  • City Parks. ...
  • Hunting Camps and Lodges. ...
  • Beaches. ...
  • Renaissance Fairs and Fair Grounds.

Can you metal detect on a public right of way? ›

If you have found a public footpath you think could be a good place to metal detect then you will need to find the land owner to ask for permission. Footpaths are a great place to metal detect though, as for many years people have been walking up and down them and perhaps taking their dogs for walks along them.

Has the St Augustine treasure been found? ›

Only three have been found and the author died without providing more clues, but treasure hunters and puzzle solvers have not given up. The decades-long search has inspired documentaries, books, podcasts and online devotees. In each medium, it's been agreed that one key is in St. Augustine.

Was Billy Bowlegs pirate? ›

Billy Bowlegs (not to be confused with the Seminole chief Holata Micco) is the name of a pirate who scourged ships along the Gulf Coast, according to local tradition.

Were there pirates in the Florida Keys? ›

The Florida Keys' seafaring history, shaped by pirates and wreckers and treasure hunters, still lives in magnificent vessels like the Schooner Wolf.

Is there any gold in Florida? ›

There are no known gold deposits in Florida. In fact, it may be the only state in the United States where there has been no gold discoveries.

Did pirates hide treasure in Florida? ›

History is full of stories about pirates and how they had to bury their stolen treasures. With all the coastline in Florida, this area has lots of pirate stories and hidden caches. One of them was told above about Billy Bowleg, another is Black Caesar.

What's considered the Treasure Coast in Florida? ›

The Treasure Coast is a region of Florida on the state's Atlantic coast, comprising Indian River, St. Lucie, and Martin counties. The region, whose name refers to the Spanish Treasure Fleet lost in a 1715 hurricane, emerged from residents' desire to distinguish themselves from Miami and the Gold Coast region.

Videos

1. If You Find A Bent Tree In The Forest, You May Have Just Stumbled Upon A Centuries Old Secret
(watchJojo)
2. METAL DETECTING TREASURE COAST OF FLORIDA | What Did We Find?
(Tucker Upper)
3. Neals Landing Treasure Mystery (Florida)
(Two Egg TV)
4. Top 10 Hidden Treasures Rumored to Be Somewhere in America
(WatchMojo.com)
5. The Lost Treasures Of the Deep
(Amazing Documentaries)
6. Treasure hunter thinks Honeymoon Island may be hiding privateer's 200-year-old haul
(FOX 13 Tampa Bay)

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