When someone says Virginia, we don’t typically associate it with lost treasure. However, you’ll be surprised what’s hiding in this constituent state. As an original member of the first 13 colonies, Virginia is blossoming with history and treasure-hunting adventures!
I’m going to make your life a lot easier by providing you with a list of 15 hot spots in Virginia to scout out for lost treasure. Let’s dive in.
1. Bedford County, Virginia – The Beale Treasure.
Allegedly there is a missing treasure potentially worth millions of dollars buried somewhere in Bedford, Virginia. I’ll get into more details a little later, but the basic premise is that a man named Thomas Beale and his men found a bunch of gold and silver in a Colorado mine and buried it in Bedford County, Virginia. Allegedly the treasure is buried somewhere near or on the grounds of what is now Johnson’s Orchard and Peaks of Otter Winery in Virginia. (source)
2. Fairfax County, Virginia – The Mosby Treasure
According to legend, Mosby and his Confederate soldiers looted some $350,000 worth of gold. By today’s standards, the loot would be well over six million dollars. However, the loot was never found. I’ll talk more about the tale later on, but that’s the basic story. You can search for the treasure yourself in Fairfax County, where it allegedly still lays hidden. (source)
3. Forest, Bedford County – The McIntosh Farm Treasure
Again, we find Bedford County a hot spot for lost gold. This time it’s about $4 million worth of gold that was, according to local legend, buried on the McIntosh Farm. The farm, located about a mile from Forest to the south, was located on what is now Route 811. The gold was either thrown down a well on the farm or buried near the barn. Either way, no one has found it yet. (source)
4. New Baltimore, Fauquier County – Pirate Kirk’s Booty
The story goes that William Kirk was a pirate who chose the quiet life after years of plundering the high seas. I’ll tell more of his tale later, but the basic story is that he hid his past (and his plunder) from his wife by burying it on a farm they purchased near the town of Baltimore, Virginia. (source)
5. Danville – Lost Confederate Gold
When the confederacy fell and fled Richmond, the powers that were in charge at the time decided to haul themselves on the Richmond-Danville train line and set up a temporary headquarters in Danville. The story is that there was a relatively large amount of gold that the Confederacy had and that it seemingly vanished, never taken by Union soldiers to the best of anyone’s account. With potentially tens of millions in gold, silver, jewelry, and bullion, the Confederate stash may have been hidden in the small farm town of Danville, Virginia. (source)
6. Virginia Beach – The Treasure of William Teach
An old tale tells of a time when good old Blackbeard (William Teach) had his men stationed at Cape Henry. Today you can visit a historic lighthouse there. Anyway, the story goes that one day Teach and his men were offshore and had plundered a large cache of treasure from a merchant ship when they heard cannon fire.
Teach, and his men quickly buried the treasure on shore in the sand dunes with every intention of returning to dig up their treasure. However, the Royal Navy had caught up with Teach and went to battle. Teach was beheaded by the end of the battle, and his buried plunder was never found. (source)
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7. Chincoteague – The Wilson Treasure
Charles Wilson, another pirate of the 1700s, met his timely demise at the hands of British officials in 1750. However, before he met his end, he penned a letter to his brother telling a tale of where he stashed his booty.
Allegedly, the letter stated that treasure was buried between some cedars at the head of a third creek about 100 paces north of the second inlet above Chincoteague Island. To this day, it isn’t clear if the story was true because the treasure remains lost. (source)
8. Williamsburg – The Hidden Vault of Sir Francis Bacon
An old tale tells of a secret vault where Bacon hid blueprints, manuscripts, and other wondrous things. During the 1600s, Nathaniel Bacon buried the vault near Bruton Parish Church. As the story goes, the treasure even included original manuscripts of Shakespeare himself.
Despite vigorous efforts to find clues in Bacon’s writings or other places, the vault remains lost in time (and maybe Virginia). (source)
9. Saltville – The Gold of Abraham Smith
According to the story, during the Civil War, Abraham Smith and his family decided that they didn’t want their gold to fall into the hands of Union soldiers. Abraham and his sons allegedly took their $46,000 in silver and gold and buried it under a roadbed.
There was a railbed torn up in 2007, and no accounts of the silver and gold came about, which means that the treasure is still out there in the small town, waiting for you to find it. (source)
10. Poor Valley – Another Possible Location For Smith’s Gold
Another source states that Abraham Smith buried his treasure in an old saltpeter mine in Poor Valley. During the Civil war, salt was a vital resource, and the area had several salt mines. One source claimed that Smith hid $60,000 worth of gold in one of these mines in the area. Given that the ravine isn’t too far from Saltville, you might be able to make a day or two treasure hunting trip and find yourself a small fortune! (source)
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11. James River, Richmond – Stolen Confederate Gold
During the Confederacy, when Richmond was the hub of the Confederates, there was a robbery. Thieves are said to have made off with about $3 million in gold from Richmond. Soldiers shot and killed the robbers, but the gold was never recovered. The story goes that the robbers buried the gold along the bank of the James River, about two miles south of Richmond. If you’re clever enough to deduce the borders of Richmond at the time, you might be able to figure out what no one else has – where the treasure lies!
First Landing State Park is said to contain pirates’ buried treasures potentially. As an area where pirates often made landfall, the area is said to have been visited by Blackbeard and others who may have stashed their treasure on the shore or inland.
13. Chesapeake Beach
Another popular landing spot due to the Chesapeake Bay, Chesapeake Beach, was likely trodden by many a merchant sailor and pirate alike. The chances of finding treasure may be higher on beaches in this area.
Located in Hampton, Virginia, Buckroe Beach and Park is a popular beach destination with many locals. The beach has everything from a stage to picnic areas and even kayak and paddleboat rentals. However, more importantly, it may have been a beach where you could find a lost treasure or even modern treasure from the hordes of beachgoers that visit every year.
15. Ocean View Beach
Another potential pirate treasure stash spot, Ocean View Beach, is located north of the Norfolk Botanical Gardens and is just West of Cape Henry Towers. The beach is a common destination for local beachgoers and also a likely landing spot for pirate ships of the past.
Virginia is by no means short of tales of treasure and buried gold. It is said a man named Thomas Beale led a hunting party that happened upon an old mine filled with gold, silver, and jewels. The party, for whatever reason, decided to take the treasure back to Virginia with them and hide it.
Beale cryptically wrote out some ciphers to determine the location, nature, and to who the treasure truly belonged. He allegedly left the ciphers with an innkeeper and said he would return in ten years for them. But, alas, he never returned.
The lost and buried treasure is said to be in the neighborhood of 100 million dollars in value. To this day, no one has been able to crack the cipher code, and no one has found the lost treasure. (source)
In Virginia, you have a few options for metal detecting without crossing legal boundaries.
Private Property – Permitted as long as you have permission from the property owner.
State Parks – Permitted in some regions of specific parks. Typically, the areas correspond to man-made beach areas. Permits may be required and are managed on a park-by-park basis.
Federal Parks – Metal detecting is usually not allowed without special permission.
National Forests – Much like Federal Parks, metal detecting is usually not allowed without special permission in areas designated as National Forest.
Riverbeds, Chesapeake Bay, and Atlantic Coastal Zones – Permit required. (source)
Depending on what sort of treasures you find in Virginia and where you find them will determine whether or not you may keep the items. Usually, in any parks that permit metal detecting either by regulation or by permit, the rule is that you cannot keep any historical objects. Some parks may also impose further restrictions like the submission of items found to the park manager for approval. Again, your best option is to discuss with the park management before you go. Each state park is different, and you should call ahead before you arrive.
As you’ve seen, there are a lot of tales of lost treasure in Virginia. However, gold isn’t always the kind of treasure that people find. For example, in December of 2021, Changing America reported a time capsule unearthed from under a statue. The time capsule found in Richmond, Va., dated back to 1887. (source)
Richmond, Virginia, was the heart of the Confederacy back in the 1800s. There are so many tales of lost confederate gold that they not only spread amongst the locals, the tales actually make the papers. Take the tale of the lost Confederate gold carried by Jefferson Davis back in 1865. This tale of gold lost is so famous that War History Online even mentions how the tale made its way into popular movies like Gone With The Wind or The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. (source)
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There are more than a few tales of treasure amongst those who study Virginia’s history. I’ve read all the tales I could get my eyes on about treasure in the state. Given what I’ve read, I thought you’d be interested in these tales of treasure; who knows, maybe you’ll discover one yourself!
Confederate John S. Mosby’s Hidden Gold
Colonel and staunch confederate John S. Mosby was a formidable leader of a group of confederate fighters back in the 1860s. In fact, on March 8, 1863, John led his troop to Fairfax Courthouse in Fairfax county. There they captured Union General Edwin H. Stoughton. Aside from the prisoners, the troop grabbed about $350,000 worth of gold. Well, we’ve had a few years for that gold to appreciate, and today’s estimated value is around 6 million dollars.
The treasure was buried somewhere between Culpeper and Norman, now the present-day Route 522 area. Due to being captured, the men could not return to regain their buried loot, and it is likely still buried somewhere out there to this day. (source)
William Kirk’s Booty
According to legend, a Scottish pirate by the name of William Kirk purchased a farm in the central Virginia Piedmont region. The farm was called Snow Hill Farm, and Kirk had allegedly stashed his booty in numerous locations about the farm, known only to himself.
In the 1870s, a descendant of a new owner of the property struck a pot when plowing and discovered it was one of the legendary stashes of gold and silver coins. It is said there are other stashes about with more of Kirk’s booty, but how many and where on the farm, no one really knows. (source)
I’ve read a lot of books on treasure, metal detecting, and even prospecting for gold has caught my eye from time to time. However, these books on the treasure in Virginia are definitely must-reads.
Commander’s Lost Treasures You Can Find In Virginia: Follow the Clues and Find Your Fortunes! by Jovan Hutton Pulitzer.
Commander’s book on lost treasure hunting is a great manual for sleuthing your way to lost treasure locations. The book acts as a guide to help you understand the tactics used by professional treasure hunters to seek their fortunes. If you’re serious about finding treasure, this book is a great read to get you started on the right path. (source)
United States Treasure Atlas Volume 10 Vermont-Virginia-Washington-West Virginia-Wisconsin-Wyoming by Thomas P. Terry.
Thomas Terry’s treasure atlas is a must if you can appreciate hard research. Terry has done his homework, that’s for sure. This book covers a variety of treasure legends and tales, all well-researched and delivered in an easy-to-read format. The book also covers five more states than just Virginia, so it’s well worth reading and keeping in the treasure hunting reference library. (source) Strange Tales from Virginia’s Mountains: The Norton Woodbooger, The Missing Beale Treasure, The Ghost Town of Lignite, and More by Denver Michaels.
Treasure to Find
Let’s get right down to business; that is, the business of researching treasures lost in Virginia. This book holds some tales, all right, and not just about the treasure that’s made of gold. It also talks about some of the strangest tales and legends ever to come out of the United States – all of which are from Virginia. From nine-foot giants of the Appalachians to a ghost town in the Jefferson National Forest, this book holds a lot of very cool tales, including that of lost gold in the mountains. Not only is this book a compelling and fun read, but it inspires the adventurer in you to go out into the Virginia wilds to seek lost fortune! (source)