People would sneak onto their land and blow big holes out of the ground and leave them that way. Cows would step in and break their legs, Ed Easterling, a local beale expert, says. Most people here have resented. The federal government owns swaths of land near Montvale—the Blue ridge parkway and Appalachian Trail weave through the peaks near town—and it doesnt take kindly to unpermitted treasure-digging either. In the early 1990s, a pennsylvania church group tore up the jefferson National Forest on federal holidays, believing theyd elude the fingerwagging of rangers if they worked on the governments day off. (They were caught and forced to re-fill the pits.). Even those considerate enough to ask for permission are treated with hesitation, says Danny johnson, a local farmer and winery owner.
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One treasure hunter insists it's buried at a local visitors center, right under the ladies room. For these treasure hunters, a survey of the past 70 years of newspaper headlines shows a bleak pattern: man hot on the trail of thomas beales treasure. Theres the Chicago refrigeration contractor, certain he had broken the ciphers in five days, who convinced local officials to dig up a graveless patch of a cemetery, only to find clothes hangers (metal) and horseshoes (unlucky). Theres the texas man who drove to virginia, wife and kids in tow, simply to borrow a local roadmap that he believed would lead to the treasure. (It didnt.) Theres the massachusetts put man who jumped out of bed, jolted by a dream, and drove bleary-eyed toward the Blue ridge mountains to test his prophecy. Theres the oklahoma psychic who surveyed the goose Creek valley from a helicopter. Theres the virginia supreme court Justice who scouted the location by bicycle; the washington state man who hired armed guards; the anonymous man who kept an armored truck idling on a nearby road. Beale treasure hunters are overwhelmingly male, though locals still chatter about one pennsylvania woman, marilyn Parsons, who cashed a disability check in 1983 and rented a backhoe to test her theory that the treasure was buried in an unmarked plot of a church graveyard. When she unearthed a coffin handle and human bones, she was arrested and advised to never step foot in Virginia again. Like the hart brothers, many treasure hunters trespass under starlight. In 1972, The washington Post reported that local landowners regularly fired warning shots at strangers tip-toeing on their property.
Amateur and paradise professional cryptanalysts have desperately searched for the lost key texts, consulting the louisiana purchase, shakespeares plays, the magna carta, the monroe doctrine, the United States Constitution, "The Star-Spangled Banner the lords Prayer, the songs of Solomon, the book of Psalms, old local newspapers. Cryptanalysts say a second-grader could break the ciphers if he lucked in on the documents on which they are based, journalist Ruth Daniloff writes. Until that happens, the other two ciphers will remain an unintelligible jumble of numbers. Like all good riddles, the beale codes have an addictive quality that curious people cant resist. But unlike most riddles, solving them could make you a millionaire. Because of those stakes, the codes have the potential to consume—and ruin—peoples lives. They come with metal detectors and magnetometers, geiger counters and dowsing rods, backhoes and pickaxes, psychic mediums on speed dial and sticks of dynamite stuffed into their back pockets. They come motivated by a quirky virginia state law that says buried treasure is finders-keepers (even if its discovered on private property). They come gripped by a monomaniacal belief that they—and only they—know where beales treasure hides: the foothills, a farm, a cave, a grave, a cistern, a creek, an abandoned road.
As long as a key is available, a substitution cipher is a safe, simple way to encrypt a message. The trouble with Thomas. Beales ciphers, however, is that we dont have the keys. For the past two centuries, attempts to solve the beale codes have been a guessing game. In the late 19th century, an anonymous amateur cryptanalyst stumbled on the key to beales second cipher—the declaration of Independence—and revealed this opening sentence: I have deposited in the county of Bedford, about four miles from Bufords, in an excavation or vault, six feet below. The message describes the treasure in detail and ends with this maddening sweetener: Paper number one describes the exact locality of the vault so that no difficulty will be had in finding. So far, its been nothing but difficulty.
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Beale buried nearly 200 years ago. The backstory of beales treasure has been re-hashed countless times: beale was a 19th century adventurer who supposedly discovered gold and silver on a hunting trip near the modern New Mexico-colorado border. He lugged the riches home to virginia and buried them, reportedly concealing the details—the location, contents, and heirs of the treasure—in three separate ciphers. So far, only one of those codes, cipher. 2, which describes the contents of the treasure, has been decrypted. The codes are basic substitution ciphers. Each number represents a letter of the alphabet, write which can be found by numbering the words in a key text.
(take the cipher 87 118. If the key text is Mary roachs book. Stiff, just number each word in her book. The 87th word starts with. The 118th word starts with. Therefore, the code spells.).
Nothing was below. The medium (who had refused to help all night, opting instead to lounge on a bed of dead leaves) was re-hypnotized and told to explain himself. He pointed to the roots of an oak tree just feet away and exclaimed: There it is! You got over too far! The hart brothers, exhausted and annoyed, left. One week later, Clayton returned to that same spot with dynamite.
The sky rained dirt, pebbles, and the splintered remains of that old oak tree—but no gold. These events, described in a pamphlet written by george in 1964. Pdf, convinced the hart brothers that mesmerism was not the path to fortune. If they wanted to discover Thomas. Beales buried treasure, theyd have to search like everybody else: by solving a puzzle. If the numbers above mean anything to you, congratulations: 2921 pounds of gold, 5100 pounds of silver, and.5 million of precious jewels—together valued at approximately 60 million—are yours for the taking, because you just cracked a cipher purported to reveal the location of the.
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Cant you see it? Guided life by lanterns and yoga moonbeams, the hart brothers dug. The hole deepened and the sky reddened. As daybreak loomed, tendrils of morning fog began to roll between the ridges. Clayton Hart thrust his pick into the red, iron-rich dirt and heard a hollow thud. The brothers exchanged glances. When a large rock emerged, the brothers excitedly flipped it over.
pair of pistols on each hip, and two jewel-filled bags slung from his saddle. Five covered wagons followed him, some hauling iron pots of gold and silver. After resting at Buford's, beale and his men buried that gold, silver, and jewels deep in the virginia woods, approximately four miles from the tavern. As the medium described its location, Clayton clung to every syllable. Months later, under the cover of nightfall, Clayton and george steered a buggy full of shovels, ropes, and lanterns into montvale. Joining them—reluctantly—was their trusty medium. Clayton hypnotized the mystic, who led the brothers up goose Creek, over a fence, and across a burbling stream to a slumped depression in the earth. The medium pointed to the dirt.
Inside, a lone frontiersman named Thomas. Beale eyed a pair of saddlebags resting on the bed. Gently, he opened them. Light burst through the room. The medium shielded his eyes and shrieked. Inside the crystal ball, beale stared at the gems, smiled, and gingerly tucked the saddlebags under a pillow. Back in how 1898, Clayton Hart watched the medium with jittery anticipation. Claytons brother george, a skeptic, stood nearby in silence. The two were trying to gather potentially life-changing information: seventy-nine years earlier, Thomas beale had reportedly buried millions of dollars of riches in the foothills near Montvale.
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A set of 200-year-old ciphers may reveal the location of millions of dollars worth of gold, silver, and jewels buried in rural Virginia. For the past century, the quest to break these codes has attracted the military, computer scientists, and conspiracy theorists. Which raises the question: Are the ciphers and the treasure even real? The medium and gazed into the crystal ball and looked deeply into the past. The year was 1898, and the room in which he sat was dimly lit. But inside the mysterious orb, the year was 1819, and the scene was about to become blindingly bright. The medium claimed he could see into the upper bedroom of Paschal Buford's tavern, an old watering hole below the Blue ridge mountains near modern Montvale, virginia. The room was dark. Shades blanketed the windows and a wad of paper was plugged into the door's keyhole.