State Treasures - Maine

By Anthony M. Belli
From page 39 of the December, 2010 issue of Lost Treasure
Copyright © 2010 Lost Treasure, Inc. all rights reserved

A Squatter’s Tale
AROOSTOOK COUNTY – Back around 1900, land-leech Anse Hanley appeared at Fort Kent with his wife and two children. They purchased supplies before moving up the Allagash River where the family camped on forestland owned by a private timber company.
There Hanley built a cabin large enough for the four of them, as he cut a small homestead out of the heavily forested countryside.
Hanley, like many others, was squatting on private timberland without the knowledge or consent of the owner. Back then squatters were a common problem for timber companies.
Should these companies attempt to remove the squatters, these land-grabbing parasites would threaten the companies by hinting that an accidental forest fire could represent millions of dollars in losses to them. In most cases the timber companies backed off.
Next Hanley built a still and started brewing his own brand of whiskey, which soon became a favorite of the loggers. “If you can drink it and come back for more, you’ll live forever,” they’d say.
The bootleg whiskey business was good for Hanley, who decided to expand. He invested his good fortune into his latest venture, which was smuggling cigarettes and guns into the U.S. from Canada, just a few miles to the north.
From deep in the woods of Aroostook County, Hanley was operating his own underground trading post. He sold farm products, bootleg whiskey, contraband cigarettes and guns to American sportsmen, hunters, loggers and local residents…and business was good.
Years later, when Henley died, his family attempted to locate their $60,000 fortune, which Henley kept buried somewhere near the cabin, but it was never found. Local research could help better pin down the site of the Henley cabin.Island Treasures of Casco Bay
CUMBERLAND COUNTY – Located off the coast of Maine sits the natural island labyrinth of Casco Bay. Literally made up of scores of small islands all amassed in the bay, its history records Casco Bay was once a safe haven for smugglers and pirates.
Several documented pirate caches have already been recovered from Casco Bay, though these recoveries represent only a tiny fraction of the treasures said to be buried there, according to various legends.
Certainly pirates are well known for burying their treasures on islands throughout the world. There are a number of sound reasons for doing so, especially during the early days of piracy when many islands were still unchartered and unknown to governments. What Casco Bay offered pirates were security, privacy, and strategic advantages.
The pirates were experts at navigating the bay and its maze of islands. According to the U.S. Costal Pilot, Casco Bay has 136 islands, but Robert M. York, former Maine historian, claims there are “little more than two hundred islands” in the bay. Whatever the actual number is, Casco Bay represented a great natural stronghold for the pirates.
These are dangerous waters for the inexperienced pilot who must navigate through shallow channels around sand bars and jagged reefs.
And getting hung up on a sand bar or having your boat ripped apart on anyone of these reefs meant being rescued by the local natives. And in this case the natives who occupied these islands were pirates, fugitives, and outlaws.
One pirate, a Captain Keiff, lived on Cliff Island where he would drive a horse with a lantern hanging from its neck up and down the shore to decoy passing ships into a narrow channel where treacherous reefs lay unexposed just below the waters surface.
These ships were quickly wrecked leaving the ship and crew helpless on the reefs. Salvaging these unfortunate ships made Keiff and his men very wealthy.
Keiff operated from Cliff Island for many years, where he is said to have buried his accumulated wealth worth approximately $400,000. Somehow Keiff became separated from his hoard and it became lost and, as far as is known, never found.
Several pirate caches are reported to have been buried on Balley’s Island. To date just one has been found. Local fisherman and farmer John Wilson was out duck hunting on Bailey’s Island when he went to retrieve a duck he’d just shot.
Wilson slipped and fell into a crevasse between two rocks where he spotted an old, rusted iron pot. The pot was full of ancient Spanish gold coins, which netted Wilson $12,000.
The pirate Edward Low took the Spanish galleon Don Pedro del Montclova after it had taken refuge in Casco Bay from a pursuing British Navy gunboat in 1723.
Low laid siege to it once the British had passed by. Its riches are said to have been buried on nearby Pond Island and never recovered.
Other legends linked to Casco Bay involve another Spanish treasure recovered from Cedar Ledges Island.
A lesser-known pirate named Captain Chase is thought to have served under Captain Kidd and is said to have buried a large cache on Jewell Island that he never returned to claim.
The Disappearance
of Flight L’Oiseau Blanc
WASHINGTON COUNTY – The flight of L’Oiseau Blanc, or the White Bird, has become one of Maine’s most baffling unsolved mysteries.
Investigators, reporters, amateur detectives, wreck-chasers, historians, and aviators have all failed to learn the fate of this lost flight 83 years later.
While the mystery of the White Bird is not linked to a treasure, it’s a great hunt for artifact hunters. Two French aviators and WWI flying aces, Captain Charles Nungesser and navigator Francois Coli, were competing for the Orteig Prize and $25,000. The award would be paid to the first crew to complete a non-stop trans-Atlantic flight between New York and Paris.
Several aviators were competing, including America’s Charles Lindbergh. By the spring of 1927, six aviators had already lost their lives attempting to claim the prize.
It was a clear morning on May 8, 1927. At 5:17, Nungesser and Coli took off from Paris’ Le Bourget Field destined for New York Harbor where they were scheduled to make a water landing next to the Statute of Liberty. The first leg of their flight took them over the English Channel, southwest England, and southern Ireland before crossing the Atlantic for Newfoundland.
According to their flight plan, they’d turn south over Newfoundland around 2 a.m. on the 9th, then fly over Nova Scotia and Boston before their decent into New York Harbor, where people gathered to see the historic flight arrive. Tens of thousands packed Manhattan’s Battery Park, but the White Bird never arrived.
Nungesser and Coli piloted a French Levasseur PL.8 biplane powered by one 12-valve, 450 horsepower Lorraine-Dietrich engine. The plane carried 1,056 gallons of fuel for about 42 hours of flight time.
A massive search and rescue effort was immediately launched involving three Navies, but no wreckage or sign of the pilots was ever found.
An investigation during the mid-1980’s suggests the White Bird did reach North America and likely crashed near Round Lake Hills in Washington County, Maine. The mystery remains unsolved, but experts believe pieces of the aircraft were discovered near Machias.
On May 21, 1927, at 10:22 p.m., Charles Lindbergh touched down at Le Bourget Airport just outside of Paris piloting the Spirit of St. Louis. Completing the first non-stop transatlantic flight, Lindburgh won the Orteig Prize and $25,000.Sources:
Let’s Go Diggin,
Atchley, D. Van, “Treasure in Maine,” June, 1976, Lost Treasure, p. 25
Casey, Tim, “Lost Troves of the Maine Coast,” April 1995, Lost Treasure, p. 32
History Alive in Maine Website, Casco Bay’s Buried Treasure,
Sneddon, Rob, “Mysteries of Maine,” June 2010, Down East magazine,