According to the story set out in the 1885 pamphlet, an American man by the name of Thomas J. Beale came across a treasure consisting of gold, silver, and jewels in a mine located to the north of Santa Fe. To extract the hidden message, the following 5 modifications must be applied to the original text: Finally, in the decoded text there are 4 errors, probably due to wrong transcription of the original paper: The treasure's total weight is about 3 tons as described in inventory of the second cryptogram. Between 1819 and 1821, Thomas Beale buried a giant treasure in Virginia. For the B.C.A., the news was deflating. When Beale’s party reached Santa Fe—then Spain’s domain—his crew split up and aimed for what is now the Colorado border. The Beale Treasure. By 1999, the Beale Cipher Association had dissolved. In 2015 the UKTV series Myth Hunters (also known as Raiders of the Lost Past) devoted one of its season 3 episodes to the topic. Then the landowner has to go and put their land back.”. The pamphlet also mentions the American Civil War that started in 1861. ), Even those considerate enough to ask for permission are treated with hesitation, says Danny Johnson, a local farmer and winery owner. , In 2010, an award-winning animated short film was made concerning the ciphers called The Thomas Beale Cipher.. Ward; the same James B. The Beale treasure mystery has defeated everybody who has approached it—and yet, despite it all, people regularly claim to have found the 'X' that marks the spot. So far, it’s been nothing but difficulty. Its only distinguished feature is a stream of faded, indecipherable text: Hammer’s discovery, buried in a potpourri of text like this, reignited professional interest in the Beale ciphers. A 9-inch stack of manila folders stuffed with papers has materialized on my desk. [There was] no evidence save the word of the unknown author of the pamphlet that he ever had the papers.". Quite by an accident, in the following year, Beale’s party unearthed a fabulous and massive treasure of silver, gold and jewels about 300 miles north of Santa Fe. It was on this occasion that he met Morriss for the first time. The B.C.A. Risque, who suffered a nonfatal gunshot wound to the gut, would stay and raise a family that included a grandson named James B. Take the criticism that silver and gold hadn't been discovered yet. “I don’t think anything in it corresponds to historical fact,” he says of the Beale story. The materials held at the Bedford Genealogical library near Montvale, Virginia are a mixed bag of serious historical research and total crackpottery: There are copies of ancient maps, genealogies of people related to the treasure story, unpublished academic papers, handwritten letters, manifestos alleging the National Forest Service is engaged in conspiracy, “solutions” to the ciphers, and tortured sketches that evoke A Beautiful Mind. Once, a man dressed as an FBI agent demanded that Innis hand over her Beale files. The results showed signs of an intelligent pattern. (“The treasure has been moved!” he reportedly grumbled.) No, it's a Freemason plot! To reduce the weight, Beale traded some of the gold and silver for jewels, and in 1820 he travelled to Lynchburg, found a suitable location, and buried the treasure. The guy who cracked the second Beale cipher is among them. Shades blanketed the windows and a wad of paper was plugged into the door's keyhole. As for the consistent language and the linguistic anachronisms in the pamphlet? Was located by decoding secretly hidden directions located within Cipher One of the Locality Cipher. The program muscled the correct solution with just 5 percent error. Dr. Albert C. Leighton, a professor of cryptology history, was a Fulbright Research Scholar who cracked a cipher linked to Pope Gregory XIII that had baffled codebreakers since 1573. According to the pamphlet, Beale was the leader of a group of 30 gentlemen adventurers from Virginia who stumbled upon the rich mine of gold and silver while hunting buffalo. Two trips were made to deposit the treasure; one in 1819 and the other in 1821. According to the story, the innkeeper opened the box 23 years later, and then decades after that gave the three encrypted ciphertexts to a friend before he died. Joining them—reluctantly—was their trusty medium. Five covered wagons followed him, some hauling iron pots of gold and silver. Beale placed the ciphertexts and some other papers in an iron box. Is the Declaration of Independence the key to finding the gold, silver, and precious stones that Beale buried near Bedford, Virginia? task force disguised as U.S. Forest Service workers,” treasure hunter Frederick W. Chesson wrote.) They reburied it in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Treasure hunters. Carl Nelson Jr., an ex-C.I.A. However, despite numerous digs and countless attempts to crack the code, two out of the three ciphers remain undeciphered, and no treasure has ever been found. You could get possessed by it. (Ward’s children denied this. [update] Comprising three ciphertexts, the first (unsolved) text describes the location, the second (solved) ciphertext the content of the treasure, and the third (unsolved) lists the names of the treasure's owners and their next of kin. (He wrote a 700-plus page two-part book; one section was entitled The Hoax Theory Deflated.) The consequence of keeping these ideas private, however, has turned the decoding process into a time-sucking vortex, with hundreds of researchers wasting hours as they test possibilities somebody else already ruled out. Robert Morriss, as represented in the pamphlet, says he was running the Washington Hotel in 1820. The story has been the subject of multiple television documentaries, such as the UK's Mysteries series, a segment in the seventh special of Unsolved Mysteries; and the 2011 Declaration of Independence episode of the History Channel TV show Brad Meltzer's Decoded. In February 1826 Poe enrolled as a student at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. It’s an unassuming, carefully folded stack of perforated paper. “The presence of a pattern is presence of a signal,” Pelling says. Dutch Schultz. 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. Well, some of the best. As long as a key is available, a substitution cipher is a safe, simple way to encrypt a message. (Beale hunter Brian Ford argued that it’s a “brilliantly-crafted Masonic allegory that teaches its moral, not just by stating it but by having the reader pursue or be tempted to pursue an illusion.”) The treasure is real … but was dug up decades ago! (He abandoned town still owing the local motel money.) It was the first time a computer had automatically deciphered a Beale cipher without any reference to the key. Cows would step in and break their legs,” Ed Easterling, a local Beale expert, says. , Beale's second cryptogram (the deciphered one). This evidence (and much more) has convinced most casual observers that the treasure story, the codes, and even the character of Thomas J. Beale are part of a canard designed to sell pamphlets. If they wanted to discover Thomas J. Beale’s buried treasure, they’d have to search like everybody else: By solving a puzzle. Frank Rowlett stands at the far right. Such claims usually occur when a hunter has exhausted all other possibilities. After Beale made multiple trips to stock the hiding place, he then encrypted three messages: the location, a description of the treasure, and the names of its owners and their relatives. CODE BROKEN, BEDFORD TREASURE A HOAX, MAN SAYS, CACHE LEGEND GENUINE, LOCAL AUTHORITY INSISTS. That's been the opinion of cryptanalysts for nearly a century. Perhaps that explains why so many people have gone to such great lengths to verify their theories. Clayton Hart thrust his pick into the red, iron-rich dirt and heard a hollow thud. “Can’t you see it?”. cryptologist who helped crack Japan’s PURPLE cipher machine during World War II, the trainees concluded the ciphers were phony. However, the population schedules from the 1810 U.S. Census are completely missing for seven states, one territory, the District of Columbia, and 18 of the counties of Virginia. A single pamphlet published in 1885, entitled The Beale Papers, is the only source of this story. As the value of these artifacts paid for time and equipment rental, the expedition broke even.. In the words of one researcher "To me, the pamphlet story has all the earmarks of a fake . The 1885 Pamphlet is the first written source for the Beale Treasure known. There are hundreds of supercomputers in the United States. The second was made Dec. eighteen twenty-one, and consisted of nineteen hundred and seven pounds of gold, and twelve hundred and eighty-eight of silver; also jewels, obtained in St. Louis in exchange to save transportation, and valued at thirteen thousand dollars. She recedes to a back room, and I begin leafing through the books—only to be startled by a sudden plop. Collectible Treasures. Ward was a Mason himself.. In 1822 he entrusted the box to a Lynchburg innkeeper named Robert Morriss. Pelling belongs to the third species of Beale hunter. In a letter, Friedman wrote: “So far as my attempts to produce an authentic reading is concerned, I can most earnestly say I have tried to the best of my ability and now must confess myself beaten.”, But Friedman never quit. Over the following year, they mined thousands of pounds of precious metal. Further scrutiny by the myth investigator Joe Nickell showed that Beale’s letters contained words such as stampeding and improvised, terms Beale never would have used—because they did not exist when he wrote the letters. Morriss had no luck in solving the ciphers, and decades later left the box and its contents to an unnamed friend.  Also in 2015, the Josh Gates series Expedition Unknown visited Bedford to investigate the Beale Ciphers and search for the treasure. Morriss didn’t know it, but that box contained the three ciphers. Many of these researchers believe the inconsistencies can be explained away. Inside the crystal ball, Beale stared at the gems, smiled, and gingerly tucked the saddlebags under a pillow. Treasure Games and Other Fun Ideas. Researchers. 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. “The computer is not the answer," Hammer said at a Beale Cipher Association Symposium in 1979. “Maybe the algorithm is still not good enough,” Nuhn says. Any centralized attempt to decode the Beale ciphers has faded with them. One year later, the same man called with an update: Jesus had changed his mind. The treasure location is traditionally linked to Montvale in Bedford County, Virginia. ), The list goes on. I can no longer see the desk. Yet contemporary records show he did not start in that position until at least 1823. Sending a letter from St. Louis a few months later, Beale promised Morriss that a friend in St. Louis would mail the key to the cryptograms, however, it never arrived. “Some of these people who come in here digging for it, heck no, I wouldn’t call them nuts,” Bedford County’s sheriff told The Ledger-Star in 1989. To recap, Thomas Beale and thirty other people excavated a massive treasure between 1819 and 1821. In the early '80s, one treasure hunter bankrupted himself after blasting rocks for six months. “There are people who want to solve the historical part of it—just to see if it’s accurate—and most of them are good, normal people just trying to solve a mystery.”. In efforts to ensure this treasure stayed safe (while they continued on other adventures), this group of thirty men decided to transport the treasure back to Virginia (where they were familiar), and bury it. A single extra word or space, Matyas argued, can corrupt a decipherment. In 1969, an organization he kickstarted—later called the Beale Cipher Association, or B.C.A.—hosted a symposium in Washington, D.C. in an attempt to pool the best minds to tackle it. “And not a dime of it should be begrudged; the work—even the lines that have led into blind alleys—has more than paid for itself in advancing and refining computer research.”. “And these ... Oh, and these ... Ahhh, yes! Lucky for them, the medium claimed to see the pioneer's every move: Beale had arrived at Buford’s tavern on horseback with a rifle resting on his lap, a pair of pistols on each hip, and two jewel-filled bags slung from his saddle. It’s 408 characters long and contains 54 unique symbols. Guided by lanterns and moonbeams, the Hart brothers dug. The club attracted big names in the intelligence community such as Carl Nelson Jr., who had helped the C.I.A. In the late 19th century, an anonymous amateur cryptanalyst stumbled on the key to Beale’s second cipher—the Declaration of Independence—and revealed this opening sentence: I have deposited in the county of Bedford, about four miles from Buford’s, in an excavation or vault, six feet below the surface of the ground …, 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 it.”. He never showed. Ward who would later help publish "The Beale Papers.". In 2014, the National Geographic TV show The Numbers Game referred to the Beale ciphers as one of the strongest passwords ever created. Easterling patiently listened, contacted the appropriate landowner, and secured the man permission to dig. Forrest Fenn's The Thrill of the Chase Treasure Hunt General Discussions. "Even if it does all the work, we still have to find the type of work for it to do.”. Inside he found two plaintext letters from Beale, and several pages of ciphertext separated into Papers "1", "2", and "3". There’s 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. One treasure hunter insists it's buried at a local visitors’ center, right under the ladies room. It’s here, in this madcap search for a factual knockout punch, that doing research on the Beale treasure story can become just as addicting as searching for the treasure itself. There are also several books, and considerable Internet activity. In 1885, that unknown man enlisted the help of James B. According to Frank Rowlett, an S.I.S. Two men were sent to get Beale and the rest of the group while the others were gathering up as much gold as they could find. In other words, the reason nobody has found Beale’s treasure is because there is no treasure to find. In 1818, a band of 30 Virginians were on a hunting expedition in the great western plains when they discovered gold and silver somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. He had brought it back to Virginia, arriving in 1819. Pelling is one of the few who insists there is still work to be done. Friedman lamented: “[T]he application of scientific principles is impossible.”. Most attempts have tried other historical texts as keys (e.g., Magna Carta, various books of the Bible, the U.S. Constitution, and the Virginia Royal Charter), assuming the ciphertexts were produced with some book cipher, but none have been recognized as successful to date. Because when you don’t find what you’re looking for, you might keep looking … and keep looking … and keep looking … until you can no longer afford to stop. The original story of the ciphers is the stuff of legend – the treasure was claimed to have been found by one Thomas J. Beale in the early 1800s when he and a group of 30 men found a mine full of gold and silver while hunting buffalo. Two: Beale died, and his fellow shareholders cleaned out the hoard without contacting Morriss. , Additionally, a Cheyenne legend exists about gold and silver being taken from the West and buried in mountains in the East, dating from roughly 1820. Then, in 1980, James Gillogly, a computer scientist at the think tank RAND and the president of the American Cryptogram Association, discovered an even stranger message in the first Beale cipher—just not the kind the B.C.A. When she unearthed a coffin handle and human bones, she was arrested and advised to never step foot in Virginia again. The Beale Ciphers have challenged treasure hunters for almost 200 years. Ward, in 1885. , Several digs were completed at the top of Porter's Mountain, one in late 1980s with the land owner's permission as long as any treasure found was split 50/50. He's confident that Beale’s treasure is buried somewhere below his feet. But inside the mysterious orb, the year was 1819, and the scene was about to become blindingly bright. One of the top Beale experts, Dr. Stephen M. Matyas, was a skeptical IBM cryptanalyst with dozens of digital security patents. was hoping for. The hole deepened and the sky reddened. Ward himself is almost untraceable in local records except that a man with that name owned the home in which a Sarah Morriss, identified as the spouse of Robert Morriss, died at age 77, in 1863. He saw the Beale ciphers as a cryptologic puzzle that could advance the field of computer programming. It also attracted people who, to put it kindly, had vivid imaginations. The level of improbability is so high that this is not a freak chance ... It’s just that the solution is one step sideways, and we don’t know where that step is.”. Another time, somebody attempted to bribe her into spilling her secrets with a complimentary jar of pickles. “Jim Gillogly’s article basically says ‘Give up,’” Pelling says. The case was featured in 7th special episode of Unsolved Mysteries. To start, the story of Beale's trip west overflows with damning anachronisms. Beale left behind three coded messages: The first told the exact location of the treasure; the second told the contents; the third told who owned the treasure. If the numbers above mean anything to you, congratulations: 2921 pounds of gold, 5100 pounds of silver, and $1.5 million of precious jewels—together valued at approximately $60 million—are … This discovery happened thirty years prior to the great gold strik… If that whole story sounds fishy, that's because it is. And perhaps it explains why most Beale hunters never dig at all. It was not until 1845 that Morriss opened the box. “People would sneak onto their land and blow big holes out of the ground and leave them that way. This is a familiar theme. The "information" that there is buried treasure in Bedford County has stimulated many expeditions with shovels, and other implements of discovery, looking for likely spots. If the key text is Mary Roach’s book Stiff, just number each word in her book. The alphabet never looked so depressing. For people like Nick Pelling, a British computer programmer who runs the website Cipher Mysteries, the speculation makes his eyes roll. The medium gazed into the crystal ball and looked deeply into the past. Gillogly offered two interpretations: that the message is buried under a second level of encryption; or that this measly string of text was the intelligent pattern Hammer's computer had detected.  Other questions remain about the authenticity of the pamphlet's account. 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