Treasure in Maine?

Aaron StymiestMachias River

Maine is a natural treasure, hidden within state lines are hundreds of little gems just waiting to be discovered. But in a more literal sense, what about actual treasure? For many years, Maine represented the northern frontier of the United States, and the colonies before that. People mostly settled along the coastline, and even then habitation was concentrated on the mid-coast and southern Maine.

Downeast as the perfect place to stay hidden, with its many rivers and bays. Specifically, the mouth of the Machias River was a hiding place for many pirate ships while they regrouped and planned their next courses of action.

One of the more famous pirates of the 18th century was a man by the name of Samuel Bellamy, or “Black” Bellamy as he was known by many. Bellamy was active in the early 18th century, and was known for dressing lavishly. His knack for dress came to be associated with many a pirate in modern culture, cementing his legacy.

FlickrTreasure recovered from the wreck of the Whydah Gally

According to the New England Historical Society, Bellamy was able to capture and plunder at least 53 ships before he died in a shipwreck off of Cape Cod in 1717. His ship, the Whydah Gally, was discovered in 1984 and has been an ongoing archaeological project that has brought gold and other artifacts, as well as human remains.

But one thing is known: Bellamy and his crew used the mouth of the Machias River as a hiding place, and had established a wooden fort there for protection. Though the fort has been gone for centuries, legend has it that Bellamy buried millions of dollars in gold (in today’s money) somewhere on the shore of the river. When Bellamy’s ship was found, the legend came alive once again. People began scouring the shoreline, looking for evidence of buried treasure.

Machias River Preserve Trail
Upstream from Machias Bay

Nobody has found it yet, and according to legend, the treasure is buried inside of a large wooden vault, reminiscent of the Oak Island treasure off the coast of Nova Scotia. If real, the treasure and vault that contains it are a historical site that many argue should be preserved as a reminder of days gone by.

Stay tuned for future stories about Maine’s myths and legends. Our state is filled to the brim with stories that have been passed down through the generations, folklore, and more! This story represents the first in an ongoing series. Send us your story ideas!

~Aaron Stymiest, Undiscovered Maine project