Portland, OR

According to a 1862 Map, a Treasure Might Be Buried Somewhere in Portland

Diana Rus

According to an Atlas Obscura report, there is reportedly a very strong case for the existence of a treasure map in the Research Library in Portland, manuscript number 2039.

Portland was the largest city in the new state of Oregon in 1862, with a population of almost 3,000 people, a booming port, and a daily newspaper, the Oregonian.

It is believed that, at that time, "SIMS.MONEY" was buried five feet beneath the surface alongside two graves.

According to the map, explorers should “PIKE.ROAD.TOO.MILES.FRO.MROM.PORT.LAND.OR.” to find the treasure. A barn might be found there. The graves were located north and east of the building, next to an orchard and an old stump.

The treasure map

The document, when unfolded, measures 6 inches tall by 18 inches broad and is entirely covered on one side with a rough map that has been drawn in blue and yellow along with long strings of blunt capital letters.

On the left side of the map, there is a port with a structure on its shore topped by a tall spire. A barn and two slashes that appear to be gravestones may be seen on the right.

Someone has scrawled "MONEY" in black ink, emphasizing two distinct caches of $3,000 each. On February 14, 1862, when the map appears to show the treasure was buried, $6,000 would have been a fortune.

Who Buried the treasure map

The map's existence was unknown until 1940 when the Oregon Historical Quarterly published a brief note about it. No one is sure of the map's authenticity or who kept it throughout the 19th century.

After the death of Everett Smith, a Seattle judge, the map was found a few years earlier. It was discovered by his son Irving among his father's papers.

Irving claimed to the Oregon Historical Quarterly at the time that his father had never mentioned the map and left no written explanation, but he subsequently revealed to the Oregonian that he had learned the map had formerly belonged to an impoverished man whose estate had been handled in Judge Smith's court.

Before divulging the existence of the map, Irving also confessed that he had looked for the treasure but failed to find it.

Treasure Hunters

Several of these explorers' journeys ended in disappointment because the treasure hunters discovered a Portland that was quite different from the one that had existed in the 1860s.

While some people felt "pike" could refer to any major road, as in a turnpike, others thought "pike" might refer to Plank Road, now known as Canyon Road, an early roadway covered with wood.

Ruth Burgess, a treasure seeker, was positive that it was a mountain route since in British English, a "pike" is a mountain or hill with a peak. She started from the approximate spot where a Roman Catholic church had been in the 1860s and moved east on Belmont Street toward Mount Tabor with her husband and four kids.

The Oregon Historical Society no longer encounters many treasure seekers.

The nearly 200-year-old treasure map is still a mystery waiting to be solved.


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My name is Diana Rus, and I'm a Romanian content writer with a passion for exploring the world and sharing my experiences with others. I studied Marketing at University and have a master's degree in Marketing Research. My true passion lies in writing, and in my articles, I share my thoughts and ideas on a variety of topics, including interesting places from the US and around the world, history, and important events.


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