Lost Buried Treasure Worth $40,000 in Gold and Silver Coins…Found by Maryland Metal Detectorist
Brian Rudolph, Lost Item Recovery Specialist (Land, Water, Sand, Snow, Leaves, Cliffs, Houses & Vehicles) Will Find Your Lost Keepsake! Call ASAP (301) 466-8644!
I received correspondence from a gentleman named Royal who was desperate to recover his gold and silver coins that had been buried out in the woods for approximately 6 years.
Royal planned to travel from his property in Michigan to his new home in Hawaii and he did not want to take his treasure with him. The money would act as a financial backup source in case he was in need of extra funds down the road. His plan was to one day return to the location where he had buried the treasure and dig up his little hoard beneath the earth when the right time presented itself.
At some point, years later, Royal returned to the property where he had once hidden his coins. He thought that he could easily walk right to the spot where he buried the 2.5 gallon Ziploc bag containing a waterproof case full of his gold and silver coins and then immediately uncover the hoard from the ground. Unfortunately, it did not turn out to be as simple as my client thought it would end up being.
Royal remembered that he dug his two foot hole behind a particular tree that had a wide trunk. He also recalled that there was thick bark on the tree because he said he took his shovel and knocked off some substantially large-sized “wood chips” off the trunk to mark the location of the treasure.
Little did my client know that over the years, the tree’s bark would shed itself and the trunk would expand. By the time Royal returned to the woods to recover his coins, he was faced with the grim reality that there was way to identify which tree Royal had previously cut into. Without the “X” that marked the spot, Royal became “royally” confused and disoriented as to where he had buried his treasure. And so, the man didn’t know where to start digging.
Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months of searching without any luck of finding Royal’s beloved hoard. He rented a metal detector to help him with his hunt, but nothing was found. The demoralized man literally dug dozens of five foot deep by six foot wide pits in the ground with zero to show for his exhausting labors.
Royal even severely hurt his shoulder which would require surgery as a result of all of the physical suffering that this frustrated and defeated man had to endure over a several month period of time.
When all of my client’s valiant efforts led to no avail, he returned the metal detector to the rental facility, gave up searching on his own and eventually took to the internet to find another solution.
Luckily, Royal found a glimmer of hope when he located an online international directory of metal detectorists called THE RING FINDERS that specialize in solving such mysteries as this one!
At first, he contacted some local detectorists listed on the directory in Royal’s hometown area. Several of these top detectorists came out to the search site during the fall season and they tried everything to find the missing treasure. Sadly, after a full day of hunting, the gold and silver was nowhere to be found.
When Royal called me in mid-December on the phone to discuss his dire situation, I could hear the sheer desperation in his voice. He had no one else to turn to. I even referred Royal to the well qualified metal detectorists that he had already contacted before and who he had previously invited out to the search site. However, he needed his money urgently and the fellow’s hope of ever finding the treasure had depleted drastically. Even though the gentleman was still planning to have the same metal detectorists return to the property to attempt another search during the warm season in the year that followed, he was hoping that I too would be willing to give it a shot with some of the deep penetrating metal detecting equipment that I possessed.
Once I acquired the entire story and asked Royal every question imaginable, I told my client that I would be happy to help him with this particular treasure hunt. He confessed to me that he was about to hire a professional operator of a ground penetrating radar (GPR) machine to scan the woods in search of the buried coins. I tried my best to sway Royal away from investing in such technology because it would be nearly impossible for such equipment to search this particular rugged terrain which was full of complicated root systems and highly mineralized soil. The better decision would be to hire me to travel across country to see if I could solve the mystery of this buried treasure in the woods. Upon Royal talking with the GPR rental company, it was confirmed by the operator that such equipment would not be a good fit for such a project and my client eventually took the idea off the table.
Before we got off the phone that particular evening, we agreed to reconnect in the months that followed to schedule my trip to Michigan. We were thinking of late March or April (after the cold season had moved its way out of the Great Lakes area). As it turned out, due to vehicle problems on my end, Royal and I settled on an early summer time frame where I would set aside 5 days just in case I needed additional search time in cracking this tough case.
I will never forget the late evening that I left my house in Maryland to start my journey up towards Lake Michigan. It would turn out to be an 11 hour journey each way, traveling over 2800 miles round trip across our beautiful countryside!
Sometime during the middle of the night, I pulled over at a rest stop somewhere in Pennsylvania and slept in my vehicle until the sun emerged from behind the horizon. Then, I drove to the nearest fast food restaurant, ordered my coffee and eggs and immediately headed back to the highway where Ohio and Michigan soon awaited me!
I have to mention one particular moment that I had when I stopped at a convenient store on my way over to my client’s property. It was a quick stop just to grab something to drink. When I returned to the car and opened the door, there on my driver’s seat was a gold colored Sacagawea one dollar coin! No other change was there with it! Only that coin was lying there on the black leather! It was so completely random to have this discovery because I had not received any change from a vendor containing a one dollar coin in a very long time! It must have been in my short’s pocket since the previous summer and then “ironically” it came out of the pocket just prior to arriving in my client’s home town in Michigan! Because I am a man of prayer and I had asked the Lord to favor me with this treasure hunt, I believe that the appearance of this coin was heavenly orchestrated to encourage me that I would indeed be successful in finding Royal’s missing gold and silver coins!
When I finally arrived sometime on that late Friday afternoon, Royal warmly welcomed me with a friendly man hug, as if we had already known each other for a very long time (there were quite a few phone conversations over the past several months). Then, he introduced me to his family and showed me to my room where I would be staying during my time in Michigan.
As soon as I emptied the car of all of my bags and metal detecting equipment, the two of us went up into the woods where Royal showed me the incredible endless “craters” that he had dug during his desperate attempts to find his beloved coins. I had seen photos of the mass demolition of earth back there on the wooded hillside, but to witness the vast pits and trenches in real life, it was beyond incredible what my eyes actually beheld.
My client took me around to various trees and showed me the most likely candidates where he could have buried his treasure. The most confusing part of the whole mystery was that Royal had already dug up the ground in all of those possible locations. So where could that treasure have been buried? The holes were already six feet wide in diameter starting a foot away from each of the tree trunks! He couldn’t have dug a hole too far away from the tree because he would then have no reference point as to where around the tree the gold and silver was buried! Also, no one else was present at the site when the hole was dug, nor did anyone have any knowledge that my client had buried his hoard of coins out there in the woods. Therefore, we knew it still had to be out there somewhere. There was a giant piece missing to this puzzle that was needing to be figured out in order to solve this mystery and I was certainly up for the challenge!
For the time remaining before darkness fully covered the forest, for the next 3 hours, I metal detected as many areas as I could, flagging potential targets that were buried under the ground. I also did a variety of tests, gathering up as much information as possible regarding metal content in the ground, mineralization, and taking note of the level of difficulty in digging up earth in that particular region. Of course, it would have been most fantastic if I hit the mother lode in that first leg of my search, but that unfortunately didn’t happen that evening.
Search Day 2 – The next morning I couldn’t wait to get back out there again and start detecting. Royal and I started with prayer as we did the night before, asking the Lord for His favor upon the search because this treasure was greatly needed to cover Royal’s future provisions. Then, we got busy!
The entire day and evening was spent metal detecting around all of the trees nearby to where Royal could have potentially buried his treasure. Each time that I captured a legitimate signal, we would mark the spot with a flag and then move on to the next location. After completing this task, we began digging up the targets to see what was buried below the ground. We uncovered miscellaneous pieces of metal that belonged to old gardening projects, there were plenty of round balls found, and a variety of mangled up pieces of aluminum that could not be identified.
As soon as I was convinced that the particular metal detector that I was using did not and or could not identify the location of the missing gold and silver, I switched to another piece of equipment. This $7000 machine that I selected uses 3D imaging and it penetrates farther into the ground than my other professionally graded gear. For the remainder of the search time that we had on Day 2, I diligently scanned all of the areas that we had covered using the first detector. We flagged each location and Royal marked each of the flags with a certain letter indicating what mode I first used on the deep seeking unit.
I must say, it was a lot of work detecting all of the areas that I covered. I scanned inside the pre-existing pits, along the sides of those massive holes, and detected around every tree where Royal had already filled up the “trenches” prior to my visit. Because he had been considering using GPR, he wanted to make the ground as flat as possible so the unit could ride over those particular search spots. That’s why he began covering up some of the holes before the two of us scheduled my trip out to the property.
By the time nightfall befell us, I had completed all of the scans using the first deep seeking mode on my detector. We did pick up our shovels from time to time to unearth various targets but none of our findings led to cracking this headbanger of a case.
We still had plenty of flags to pull during our next day’s search and I planned to switch modes to see if we could still increase the level of sensitivity on the machine. Until then, as we made our way back to the house, calling it quits for the night, I shared with my client how pleased I was with how much we accomplished thus far even though we did not yet find what we were looking for.
Day 3 – After finishing a fantastic cup of coffee and having a little something to eat, I was back at searching for the lost treasure. The first part of the day was dedicated to searching around all of the trees that were suspected of possibly being close to where the coins were buried. I would seek to find new signals with my detector ever since switching to the new scanning mode and re-approach the previously flagged areas where we had not yet dug up the targets that I had detected the day before.
It was a lot of work! Between scanning with the very heavy equipment that was harnessed to me, to all of the digging of endless holes – one after another for the purpose of investigating what was buried below the ground, it truly was quite exhausting to say the least!
Sadly, area after area that I detected kept coming up negative for the precious metals that we were seeking after. My giant coil at the bottom of my detector shaft had the capability of reaching over several feet in depth but everything we pulled from the earth was nothing but unimportant metal.
When I completed all of the scanning with my deep seeking detector, we then began digging up all of the remaining targets that we had not yet explored below the ground. Royal would remove the flag as if it was a golf game, and then I would begin digging a hole with the shovel that was provided to me by my client.
So that we didn’t have to dig holes wide enough to fit my larger coil sizes down into, I brought out another detector with a smaller six inch coil attached. The idea was to turn up the sensitivity on this alternative machine so as to reach greater depths within smaller holes. One after another we investigated each target signal but regretfully nothing of value turned up.
As we pulled more and more flags out of the ground, I kept scratching my head and asking myself, ‘What am I missing that would help solve this mystery?’ I was so careful and quite methodical in scanning every tree that potentially matched the description that Royal had initially given me. If we didn’t eventually recover the treasure in one of the flagged spots, we would then have to start filling in the pre-existing pits and trenches in order to metal detect where the large dirt and sand piles were originally created by Royal. If that were to be the case, it would end up costing me a tremendous amount of time in addition to the extensive degree of physical labor involved with all that shoveling and filling.
Finally, we finished digging and detecting every potential target… except one. There was only one flag remaining. We were so physically done at this point. The reason why we left this one target for last must have been due to the fact that it was the most unlikely spot for Royal to have buried his hoard. Why? There were a couple of reasons:
1. The tree’s trunk that was several feet from where the target signal was coming from was only about nine inches in width. It was tiny in diameter! When comparing Royal’s account about the tree’s description to this particular one’s profile, the tree was way too small for Royal to have hidden the treasure nearby to it. My client recalled a tree with a much wider trunk in order to hide behind it so as to not be seen by anyone while digging the hole and burying the cache.
2. The tree’s bark was completely smooth and not “wood chip” thick. You could not pull off any of the “skin” of the tree even if you tried a million times! It was very thin and solidly fixed to the slender trunk. According to Royal, he vividly remembered engraving an “X” in a trunk that had thick bark which you could chip pieces off of. This tree did not fit such a description!
The reader may wonder why we even decided to metal detect around this particular tree at all! Well, it turned out that neither one of us intentionally planned to scan this location! It was completely incidental! Perhaps God had answered our prayers with a great sense of humor in addition to keeping me humble with how this challenging treasure hunt eventually found its conclusion!
Earlier in the day, I was walking down the hill from one particular pit that I had just metal detected and I was forced to move around another trench which was in my way. This inadvertently caused me to walk by this narrow-sized tree. My metal detector was connected to a harness that I was wearing due to the extreme weight of the massive coil at the bottom of the shaft. So, when I walked over that spot, the coil was still scanning the ground. Then, all of a sudden, I unexpectedly heard through my headphones a number of high quality non-ferrous metal tones. I could visually see on my laptop screen (which was also fastened to the harness in front of my chest) some curious activity going on. Because the location of these signals was so random, I didn’t think to check the 3D imaging feature. I simply called over to Royal who was waiting for me at another search spot and shared with him that I picked up something in that location. I asked him if he thought we should put a flag there and he said that he would agree to doing so, though he was confident that the treasure could not possibly be in that location. In fact, the target signal was discovered in such an obscure place that we weren’t even paying attention to the fact that there was even a tree nearby to the accidentally found target (which had a distance approximately 3 feet away from the trunk)!
Royal eventually came down the hill, flagged the spot where I picked up the signal and then the two of us moved our way back up the incline to the next flag that was placed in the ground earlier on.
Hopefully the backstory shared above gives the reader a clear understanding as to why we waited until the very end to check out this 76th and final target.
Royal started opening up his heart with me as we prepared to investigate that most unlikely spot that we were about to dig. He basically gave a speech to me sharing that he had finally come to terms with the real possibility that the treasure would never be recovered. Even though we still had a couple of search days left to continue hunting for the lost gold and silver, Royal felt compelled to express his sincere gratitude for the work that I had put into the search thus far and he resolved within himself that he did everything humanly possible to try to find the precious metal cache. He spent all of those months last year endlessly digging the pits and trenches and utilizing a metal detector to scan the earth for his missing treasure. Then, he had the local metal detectorists attempt to uncover the hidden hoard which also led to no avail. And then finally, Royal called upon my services to conduct this very final search by implementing my high level of item recovery experience mixed with the use of the finest equipment available to help solve this very curious mystery.
Once Royal finished pouring out his guts to me, I encouraged the man that it was not yet over and that we would do everything possible to find what he so desperately needed back in his possession. Then, we pulled away the final flag, picked up our shovels and began to dig.
After removing a large portion of dirt to begin metal detecting inside the plug, I grabbed my metal detector with the small six inch coil and began analyzing the ground to see if the target was still buried down below or not. It turned out that we needed to continue our shoveling efforts as soon as I verified with my machine that the object had not quite yet been pulled out of the ground. This process continued a couple more times – digging and detecting, then pinpointing with a hand-held detector and finally back to digging some more. The hole kept getting deeper and deeper until we reached an approximate depth of 20 inches or so.
I didn’t think much about what was going on with this particular target signal that we were chasing after because there were other spots where we kept digging and even more digging just to find some random piece of scrap metal encased a couple of feet below the surface. However, the part that was quite encouraging about this individual hole was that the deeper we displaced dirt and sand, the wider the diameter of this target expanded.
At some point, I had Royal take out another few shovelfuls of dirt before I knelt down to the ground once again to pinpoint the plug. I wanted to see if we had already taken out the object from the hole. When I confirmed that the target was still embedded in the earth, I started to clear some of the dirt to one side of the deep opening to see if I could manually reach this stubborn target once and for all. And then… something wonderful happened! My eyes beheld the most beautiful sight…plastic!
Almost simultaneously, Royal and I erupted with indescribable elation as we both focused in on what was clearly the top portion of a transparent 2.5 gallon sized Ziploc bag that was barely peeking out of the ground! In that split time frame of life, neither one of us could possibly contain the endless and indescribable emotions that took immediate effect inside the two of us!
Within a second of seeing this most spectacular and unbelievable sight, like a football star making the game winning play, I tackled my fellow treasure hunter with overwhelming joy! The two of us fell back onto a pile of dirt and sand that my desperate client had created approximately nine months earlier!
The search was finally over! Royal’s nightmare of losing his essential livelihood was now transformed into the happiest dream come true! Our prayer was answered by our great and loving God above! He helped us accomplish our mission to finally find the long sought after treasure! It was a beautiful moment for us! Our hearts, which were full of gladness and gratitude, spilled out with expressions of countless hugs and many tears of happiness and relief!
I will never forget what Royal and I experienced out there in the woods that early summer afternoon! It is moments like these that cause metal detectorists like myself to want to be a part of more treasure hunt stories like this one! It’s beyond addictive when you have experienced an adrenaline rush such as this!
The two of us were so excited by what had just taken place, that we spent probably the next 30 minutes just sitting on that mound of dirt and sand reflecting on the reality of the situation! We then took a walk around the woods, visiting almost all of the trenches, pits and holes just to take in the moment now that it was all over and there was no more wondering about whether or not we would be successful in finding what was seemingly impossible to uncover in the past year!
Royal and I climbed into a few of the holes that were nearly five feet deep, just for the fun of it, celebrating our win and continue to process what had just taken place!
Eventually the time came for us to revisit that obscure and most unlikely spot where Royal once hid his gold and silver. My client gave me the honors to bring up the lost treasure from the earth. So, I once again knelt down on the ground and carefully (with much excitement) grabbed a hold of part of the plastic bag which protected the waterproof case full of precious metal coins. Due to the weight of the dirt surrounding the buried cache and how heavy the container appeared to be, I had to slowly bring up the treasure inch by inch until the entire “package” became fully rescued from the two feet of earth that it was hidden beneath!
The container that Royal had described to me was now in open sight! It was officially rescued from the ground! Incredible! I opened up the plastic Ziploc bag and brought the container out into the open. Then, I excitedly unlocked the case and there before our very eyes was the most awesome scene! Numerous gold and silver coins shimmered with endless sparkles and pops! It was a beautiful sight to behold!
For the next 20 minutes or so, the two of us celebrated our most memorable victory, handling the gold and silver like a pair of jubilant pirates that finally took possession of their well sought after booty! With our knees still to the ground, the two of us took inventory of the cache that had no right to be forever lost down in the dirt and sand up there on the wooded hillside. The coins were a mix of Canadian Gold Maple Leafs (1/4 ounce and 1 ounce sizes), American Gold Eagles, American Gold Walking Liberty’s, African Gold Krugerrands and many stacks of collectible silver 1 ounce coins.
That day certainly turned out to be a great one for Royal and myself! We kept high-fiving and embracing one another over and over again, as well as giving repetitive praise to God above for answering our prayers! We constantly experienced that victorious feeling within us and the consistent reminder in our brains that the painstaking and nerve racking treasure hunt was finally done and forever over!
As soon as my client packed up his newly reunited mini hoard, we gathered up our equipment and made our way back to the house where we began planning out how we would share the exciting news with Royal’s family.
Later that night, we shocked everyone over dinner and drinks! It was certainly an evening that I will never forget! We raised our glasses and partook of some of the best family home-made bourbon one could ever have the pleasure of toasting with! It was amazing! There were more hugs and high-fives expressed before we all finally turned in for the night! I must admit, it was certainly hard to fall asleep as I laid in bed replaying every scene from the moment the treasure was discovered right up to the last and final clink of our glasses in the dining room!
The next day, I packed up my vehicle with all of my travel things and metal detecting gear in preparation for the long journey back to Maryland. Before leaving, Royal took me on a tour of the Michigan countryside, including taking me to one of the most beautiful lakes that I had ever seen! We walked the beach together and my client showed me all of the special spots where he loved hanging out over the many years that he had been living in that part of the state. It was a very special “cool down” time together after all of the excitement that we had experienced the day before.
As soon as we returned back to the property, it was time for all of us to exchange our goodbyes, hoping that perhaps one day we would all find an occasion to once again reunite with one another (of course not under the same circumstances).
As Royal expressed his deep gratitude for my successful search efforts, we gave each other a final man-hug just before making my way into the car. Within a matter of seconds, the only remaining sight of my newfound friends was vaguely captured in my rear view mirror as I headed down their long wooded driveway towards the main road. I was now on my way eastbound towards home.
Each and every minute that I drove in the direction of my favorite state, I continuously encountered in my mind the most exhilarating flashbacks of the adventure that I had just experienced. It was beyond surreal for me, recounting the success of my unforgettable treasure hunt that so many other detectorists have only dreamed of one day being a part of. The gratitude that I felt with every mile marker that I passed was truly off-the-charts amazing. I kept thanking the Lord over and over again for favoring me during my trip.
Though I was physically exhausted, I was still majorly “revved up” from the constant buzz that I had acquired the moment that I first laid eyes on that small piece of Ziploc bag that so magically appeared from beneath the earth.
“Incredible”, I kept repeating to myself as I traveled closer and closer towards familiar landmarks. “Absolutely incredible”. Many smiles upon my face continued to shine like the noonday sun, endless waves of excitement never ceased to reverberate over and over again within me, and the many warm memories of this beloved treasure hunt story still have never faded even to this very day. Truly a special treasure tale to be forever told has now been passed down to my children…and maybe one day…to my children’s children, as well!
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