Buried Treasures in North America Cocos Island Part 1

About buried treasure in North America, history of Cocos Island, account of previous searches and locations.


Cocos Island

Large amounts of money and time have been spent searching tiny Cocos Island for the treasure supposedly buried there by pirates beginning at the end of the 17th century. It is very likely that Cocos was the model for Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island.

How It Got There: The Lima treasure is the most famous and valuable (reputedly worth over $20 million) of all the treasure hidden on Cocos Island. While Simon Bolivar marched through Peru in 1823, a group of Spaniards in Lima "liberated" what was probably the Peruvian state treasure. To get it out of South America, they put it on board the Mary Dier, under the command of Scotsman William Thompson. A partial bill of lading included 113 gold religious statues, mostly of Catholic saints; 200 chests of jewels; 250 swords with jeweled hilts; 150 chalices; 300 bars of gold; and 600 bars of silver. A bishop, the governor of Lima, and some other Spaniards went aboard to keep the treasure company, an error they paid for with their lives; for, overcome with greed, Captain Thompson and his crew killed them. Thompson, now a pirate, sailed to Cocos, where he stashed the treasure in a cave. As the Mary Dier left the island, however, it was attacked and captured by the Spanish frigate Espiegle. Thompson and a member of his crew were taken to the island under duress to lead their captors to the treasure, but the wily Scotsmen escaped and hid. After a fruitless search for the treasure, the Espiegle weighted anchor and left. A month later, the crew of a whaler that had stopped at Cocos for fresh water found Thompson, who said that his companion had died. Thompson never returned to the island, but he gave his friend John Keating a chart and detailed information about where the treasure had been hidden.

Previous Searches: When Keating and a companion rediscovered the treasure, they withheld the knowledge from the crew of their ship. The crew, suspecting what was going on, promptly mutinied. The two escaped to the island and hid. Now Keating's story parallels Thompson's. He was rescued by a whaler and reported that his companion had died. He too failed to return to the island, and he entrusted his secret to a friend. He had, however, left the island with pound 3,000 in gold.

In 1872 Thomas Welsh and his wife--leaders of the South Pacific Treasure Island Prospecting Company--and several of their followers dug an 80-ft. tunnel into a mountain, at the end of which, they claimed, lay $65 million in gold. It took them eight days, and they found nothing. After soothing his enraged helpers, Welsh had them dig 200 ft. further into the mountain, a 12-day job, which still netted them no gold.

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