CacheCrazy.Com: The Beale Ciphers

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Beale Ciphers


DctrSpott


The Beale Ciphers










Most geocachers love taking on a cache with a challenging puzzle. The brain-strain makes the eventual find that much more rewarding. So naturally, geocachers should be keen to take on an urban legend involving a cipher, adventure, and a hidden treasure worth over $20 million.

The Original Beale Paper Pamphlet (Wikipedia)
As the legend goes, Thomas Beale, on an expedition to Colorado, discovered a gold mine in an area of what is now Colorado. After several years of mining, Beale returns to Bedford County, VA, where he buried the gold, silver, and jewels in a vault. Beale left a local hotel manager, Robert Morriss, with three ciphered papers: describing the location, contents, and owners of the treasure, in the event Beale cannot return to claim it.



 Morriss, unable to translate the cipher, gives them to James Ward to publish, hoping someone might uncover the treasure. Ward's published pamphlet contains everything we know about the cipher, including a translation of the second page. The cipher is called a book cipher, which uses a text as the key. The words of the text, in this case the Declaration of Independence, are numbered sequentially, and the first letter of each word is synonymous with each word's number. In this way, common letters like E can be disguised with multiple numbers, making the cipher very difficult (if not impossible) to break without the key text.  The deciphered text is as follows:

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 following articles, belonging jointly to the parties whose names are given in number three, herewith:
The first deposit consisted of ten hundred and fourteen pounds of gold, and thirty-eight hundred and twelve pounds of silver, deposited Nov. eighteen nineteen. 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 for silver to save transportation, and valued at thirteen thousand dollars.
The above is securely packed in iron pots, with iron covers. The vault is roughly lined with stone, and the vessels rest on solid stone, and are covered with others. Paper number one describes the exact locality of the vault, so that no difficulty will be had in finding it.

Woah! 1014lbs of gold! Today's value of gold is $1742/troy oz,  or $25,398/lb. This of course, makes the gold alone worth almost $26 million. Have I caught your interest?

Of gold
 Before you take your caching team to Virginia, digging equipment in hand, know that the remaining pages are to this day unsolved. The legend is the Beale left a letter describing the keytexts with a friend in St Louis, but the letter never reached Morriss in Virginia. Others claim the whole story is a hoax, a short story written in the style of Edgar Allen Poe's "The Gold-Bug". Whichever the case, every year sees treasure hunters swarming the Buford area, hoping to find Beale's treasure.

So, whether you're heading to Virginia to treasure hunt, or hoping to attempt one of the many Beale themed caches, good luck to you!



1 comments:

Dodger said...

Salty Dog cache, Grandpa Thrifty, Thomas Beale...

Lately we've been 'TREASURE CRAZY' here at CACHE CRAZY!

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