Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Buried Treasure in Boston Harbor?

Pirates? In Boston Harbor? Argh!

Everyone is familiar with Boston’s Revolutionary past, but few know about Boston’s bygone buccaneers. It’s common to think of pirates stalking the tropical Caribbean, but as is the case with many vacationers today, they liked to summer in New England, too. During the 1600s and 1700s, piracy along the New England coast was prevalent as sea bandits lurked and pounced on unarmed merchant vessels, plundering their money and valuable goods and sometimes murdering their crews. There are rumors that some pirates buried their plunder or hid their ill-gotten goods in caves amid the islands of Boston Harbor. Numerous pirates were captured and executed in Boston, taking the location of their loot with them to their graves.

The infamous Captain Kidd was imprisoned in Boston after his capture in 1699 before being shipped to London, where he was tried and executed. Gallops Island is said to be one of the three possible islands where Kidd’s hidden treasure is buried. The pirate “Long Ben” Avery supposedly buried diamonds on Gallops Island that have yet to be found.

Pirates may not be the only source of hidden treasures. Hundreds of ships have met an untimely demise among the islands of Boston Harbor, scattering their contents on the island shores or taking their cargoes to the bottom of the sea.

Allen Gontz, an assistant professor in environmental earth and ocean sciences at UMass Boston, gave an interesting lecture last Thursday at the Old South Meeting House about the hunt for shipwrecks in Boston Harbor. Gontz has led a team of researchers to study the wrecks of the 74-gun French man-of-war Magnifique, which sank off Lovell’s Island in 1782, and the USS Niagara, which was sunk to the waterline near Grape Island. Over the years, silver and gold coins and other valuables have reportedly been found on Lovell's Island, but Gontz says that the French salvaged most of the contents from the Magnifique before it went under. So you may want to keep that day job before you break out the shovel and treasure map and head out to the Boston Harbor Islands.

More information will be in the forthcoming book: Discovering the Boston Harbor Islands.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What do you mean? We already quit our days jobs....!!! We have shovels and are looking for a boat. See you in the flats.