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Spanish Gold Buried on St. George Island, Florida

In 1715, a Spanish ship carrying gold sunk near the shore of St. George Island, Florida. Legend has it that the treasure was never retrieved and remains buried on the island to this day. There are many explanations for why they didn't retrieve the treasure from where it sunk off San Jorge Island.

Some say that there is no evidence of any treasure being found because it had been moved at some point to another location or perhaps even removed from its original site altogether before sinking and then moved back after sinking for safekeeping elsewhere or as protection against pirate attacks during transit to Spain's colonial headquarters in Havana.

The Story of the Sunken Ship and Buried Treasure

By 1716, Don Pedro Sánchez de Urdaneta, royal captain and pilot of the Viceroy of New Spain, was going to Havana in Cuba. He led an exploration party to explore the coast of North Florida, encountering unexplored lands for the first time.

The expedition charted the coast of Florida. Upon learning that a Spanish ship had beached, sunk, and its cargo removed from the ship, he sought the help of the Fort St. George for help in retrieving the Spanish gold lost at sea. The Fort allowed Urdaneta to bring a team of men to the area.

Urdaneta's party set out on a 250-mile (400-kilometer) expedition to San Jorge Island in search of the location where the Spanish treasure ship had allegedly been lost.

Treasure chest compass and old map on wooden table

Old Maps Show the Location of the Treasure

An old map made by Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón included the treasure: it was designated as "Los Monjes y Ingleses en Curzones" and listed as being worth up to 120 million Spanish dollars.

Two years later, the lost Spanish treasure reappeared off the coast of St. George Island. It was a fishing vessel, the Star of the Sea, which had run aground near the island and sank. Several crew members aboard the boat were forced to jump into the ocean to save their lives.

Current Status of the Treasure

It's hard to determine the authenticity of this story, but there are varying reports of what happened to the gold and where it is. There are rumors that the gold was either moved or simply placed in storage as it is still stored in St George or hidden in another location. Rumor has it that they retrieved it in 1934.

Upon the removal of the gold from Havana, according to another legend, it was seen in possession of a priest who used it to bless the church. To this day, no one knows exactly what happened to the gold.

Old coins partially buried in white sand

People Who Searched for the Treasure

Over the years, explorers, treasure hunters, and paranormal researchers have explored the site in hopes of finding the gold. It wasn't until 2003 that a group of researchers thought they might have found the gold after discovering what appeared to be a diver's suit in the wreck. They were even able to recover some debris from the wreck, including two gold nuggets.

Since 2003, all but one group who has gone to the site has discovered only scattered items from the wreck, and none of these claims have gained much credibility from historians and treasure hunters.

Donald Scott and his son Kevin Scott have even gone as far as excavating to prove buried treasure in the wreck.

What We Know About the Treasure

The treasure was originally on a Spanish vessel in Havana.  The legend states that the ship was wrecked off the coast of Florida in and there were 50 chests filled with gold buried on St. George Island.

The vessel that was supposed to have buried the treasure on St. George Island is known only as San Jorge. No one has ever found it, and its exact location is not known.

Treasure chest from pirates with gold coins and nuggets

St. George Island was named for George II of Great Britain. Many of the colonists on the island were descendants of royalists who had fled England during the English Revolution of 1688-91. St. George Island later became part of the Florida Territory and was incorporated into the U.S. state of Florida after the American Revolution.

Whether the ship's location in St. George was purposefully made secret or had just naturally been forgotten about remains to be seen. However, what is clear is that Spain would have had a much more difficult time attempting to raise the ship and haul it out of the water if it had still been there today since it would have been found much sooner.

For the claim that the gold was relocated, historians have suggested that the wreck could be located in the Gulf of Mexico or even in the waters between the Florida Keys and Cuba. A further alternative is that the ship could have gotten lost at sea during the war.

You probably have a lot of fun thinking about finding or even just coming across some hidden gold. After all, treasure hunters have come across gold before, whether gold nuggets, gold coins, or gold inclusions. If you have a small amount of time and some luck, there is probably gold treasure awaiting you on St George.

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