Sunday, March 3, 2013

Anyone Want To Go On A Treasure Hunt?

Treasure, the word used to peak a persons interest in seconds. Today, however, when we think of treasure it is something in relation to pirates or conspiracy nuts. But what if I told you I knew where there was some treasure just waiting to be found. I'm sure your thinking, why would Mike share such valuable information with us? Well, because like I, you have almost the same chance of getting to it as I do. How come? Well because it is sitting somewhere on the bottom of the Hudson River and has been for the last 110 years.

Like all good treasure stories there is always those that bury or in this case lose the treasure. The Guggenheim family are one of the most infamously wealthy families in American History. Making more money than I could ever imagine having, the Guggenheim's made their money in several mining and smelting ventures across the globe. One such of these ventures took place in New Jersey of all place. It was in 1903 that the Guggenheims would lose, what then was mere pocket change to them, but a fortune in today's money, thus starting on of the greatest treasure stories surrounding Arthur Kill, the strait between Staten Island and New Jersey. For the last 110 years the Guggenheim Treasure has been sought after, yet never found, many have tried and all have failed, but the treasure still rests out there and I can give you some hints on where it might be.

The name Arthur Kill doesn't sound fancy and guess what it isn't. A stretch of water connecting the Hudson River with the Raritan Bay it is a major thruway for ships heading in and out of the Port of New York and New Jersey. Perhaps the most famous use of Arthur Kill was when Ben Franklin, John Adams & Edward Rutledge rowed across it from Perth Amboy to Staten Island to tell the British to stick their peace proposal up their bums. But that was back in 1776, lets fast forward a bit to that night in 1903 when the Guggenheim's would lose between 1,400 and 1,600 hundred solid silver bars, worth today roughly up to $26 million dollars, give or take a few bucks.

The Port of New York and New Jersey at the beginning of the 20th century was perhaps the busiest port in the world. Ships where importing and exporting goods, immigrant ships were arriving from Europe, ferries darted back and forth, fishing vessels left and returned from the ocean waters of the eastern seaboard and so on. But on the night of September 26, 1903 a treasure was lost. The barge Harold was loaded with 7,700 bars of silver & lead while docked near where South Street Seaport is today.  The barge was then pushed down the Hudson and into the Arthur Kill strait. It was there while in route, to the Asarco smelters in Perth Amboy, that the barged listed and the silver bars sunk beneath the water. When the barge arrived and its cargo was, well missing, a very secretive salvage mission was planned immediately. During the salvage mission only 85 percent of the cargo was recovered, this leaving today, a small fortune just waiting to be found. The event was recorded in the New York Times which lucky for you I have attached the article from the original 1903 edition here.

Ok, so where is the treasure right? Well if I knew exactly where it was do you think I'd be sitting here telling you where it is? Or even writing about it? I sure as heck don't have a clue where it is but there is still one man who thinks he is hot on the trail of the lost Guggenheim silver. Ken Hayes is the president and founder of Aqua Survey, based in Flemington, NJ. Hayes and his company are the leading experts in under water research and recovery. He has been on the hunt for the silver for the last several years, but like all those before him, he has found nothing. But that hasn't deterred him. Ever spring he hits the water and picks up right were he left off in the fall. But like all good treasure hunting stories this one has its conspiracy factors as well. Hayes claims that there have been other treasure hunters or even government officials that shadow his searches and wait for him to make a find.

So it's still out there. Over $20 million dollars in silver just waiting to be found. Sure it's sitting on the bottom of the Arthur Kill strait. And sure, it's been covered by 110 years of muck. And lets not forget, there is no X marking the spot either. To find it you'd have to be someone like Ken Hayes or be an expert in underwater salvage or underwater archeology. But what is important about the lost Guggenheim treasure is this, you never know where history lies. You always hear the stories about a farmer plowing a field or a homeowner putting in a new pool and them finding some ridiculous treasure or something that people have thought was lost to history. Look at the most recent find of King Richard III in England. One day I am sure someone will find the Guggenheim treasure, it is only a matter of time. Hopefully whoever finds it read this blog and I was their inspiration and they throw me a few bucks when they find it, so thank you future treasure finder. But just remember, history is everywhere and all around us. Sometimes it can be as big as the Guggenheim treasure or it can be a beer bottle found inside a wall from when a home was built in the 1930s. It is everywhere and all around us and just waiting to be found.