Graveyard Shift

The Mysterious Beale Ciphers Inspired A Centuries-Old Treasure Hunt That’s Still Ongoing

The mysterious concept of buried treasure is nothing new, and has continued to draw the attention of curious adventurers since time immemorial. But few legends of buried treasure have remained quite as tempting and prevalent in the social consciousness as the yet-to-be-solved Beale Ciphers.

Many hidden treasures are accompanied by maps, clues, and stories, but the Beale Ciphers offer something a bit more mysterious: a potentially indecipherable set of three papers, all written in a secret code, which reveal the truth of the legacy, location, and contents of Beale's treasure.

Having been lost to the hills of Virginia since 1820, the treasure is believed to be valued at nearly $54 million in today's US dollars, and contains a luxurious combination of gold, silver, and precious gems. Of the three cipher texts Beale allegedly left behind - later printed into a collection known as the Beale Papers - only one of them has ever been solved, leaving the final two to tempt treasure hunters for centuries afterward in hopes of being lucky enough to discover its long-lost location.