I love a good treasure hunt. I always have since I was a kid and saw the Disney movie "Treasure Island." The idea that millions in gold, silver, or jewels could be buried just a few feet from where you're standing is fascinating to me. One of my favorite shows on TV is "The Curse of Oak Island." Two brothers from Michigan and a team of experts have been looking for a treasure that is thought to be buried in the "Money Pit" on Oak Island, Nova Scotia.

So, I've been following the "set-up" treasure hunt concocted by Forrest Fenn, a New Mexico treasure hunter and author. After being diagnosed with cancer, he wanted to leave something as his legacy and decided that a treasure hunt would be perfect. He hid over $1 million in gold and artifacts somewhere in the Rocky Mountains in 2010. Now, 10 years later the treasure has been found. Read more about the hunt in the NY Post.

That got me thinking, I wonder what buried treasure legends we have in Upstate New York? So, being an expert, Ph.D. level Google researcher here are the three big buried treasure legends that are unsolved in our area.



Dutch Shultz was a gangster in the 20s and 30s and spent time in the Catskills. The legend goes that he was going to be arrested for tax evasion. So, he took his fortune of several million dollars, put it in a safe, and buried it near Phoenicia, NY with the help of his bodyguard. Unfortunately, they were both gunned down in New Jersey before they could recover the safe. Dutch, on his deathbed, started rambling incoherently about something hidden in the woods in Phoenicia, New York. That might be the location of his buried loot. It's never been found, but people are still scouring the area for the treasure, according to Catskills.net.


© National Library of Denmark
© National Library of Denmark

This legend was first reported by the Sullivan County Democrat in 1992. This set off a huge treasure hunt that still hasn't been solved. According to Hillig's assistant, he was to turn over clues to a fortune in Nazi loot that was stolen by Otto Hillig in 1942. Hillig hid the loot in a safety deposit box in a bank in Liberty, NY. The key to solving the mystery and recovering the loot is a bronze coin engraved with Hillig's initials that he hid somewhere in the Catskill Mountains. www.nyup.com

Here are the clues that were left by Hillig's assistant to find the hidden coin.

The arch if the roots is by your boots.

She is as beautiful as her closest sister, who once left Skeetersburg.

William Ayers mourned Liberty’s first death.

The fish won’t bite at the Western part but begin the hunt, it’s OK to start.

‘Foul wrinkled witch, what makes thou in my sight?’

Blue Mountain Cemetery looks over Otto’s treasure.

Broadhead Points to.

Dr. Blake Wales knew it as two log houses.

Lucky me, I’m in the Queen’s back yard. If you can’t find me, you haven’t looked hard.

The Lennon Building holds a clue.

Grady’s horse kicked the spot.

The coin is in the open.

Liberty Public Service was there in my time.

From the inside of Manion’s Store the Mongaup will roar.

Mr. Manion’s home plate.

Ugly Acer rubrum on the rade, then 30 paces and you will have in made. Turn to the right if going at, turn to the left if walking back.

The municipal corner is basically nutty.

What once was Hortonville, now is not.

You are very close at number one, the plague is a spot which you should plot, go in and eat, and count the feet, from there to here, let’s have a beer. 

The lens of my camera has revealed the spot.

Now in its place is a restaurant which has food that is fine. Descramble the words on the bar and you will be one step closer to being the star.



Somewhere in a farmer's field near Rome, NY, there might be gold bars and coins that were hidden by British Brevet General Barry St. Leger in 1777. Leger failed at attacking and taking over Fort Stanwix (now Rome, NY). After his failed attack, he retreated and buried gold so it wouldn't fall into the hands of the Americans. There are actually two theories as to where the loot is buried. Either in a field near Rome, NY, or the more popular story that Leger filled a cannon with the gold and threw it in a swamp near what is now Old Route 69. www.treasure.net

Now armed with that information, a metal detector, and my keen sense of direction I'll either find one of these treasures or accidentally stumble into some Massachusetts woods and have to be rescued.

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