The Beale Ciphers are 3 encrypted texts from the 1800s that supposedly contain the location of a treasure that would now be worth around $43 million.
As legend has it, Thomas J. Beale buried the gold in Virginia and then vanished after giving the texts to a local innkeeper, who spent 20 years trying to decipher them.
He claimed to have solved only one, which lists the treasure’s contents.
The second ciphertext, the one the innkeeper decrypted using, no joke, the Declaration of Independence – seriously, like something straight out of National Treasure with Nicolas Cage – reads as follows:
I have deposited in the county of Bedford, about four miles from Buford’s, in an excavation or vault, six feet below the surface of the ground, the following articles, belonging jointly to the parties whose names are given in number three, herewith:
The first deposit consisted of ten hundred and fourteen pounds of gold, and thirty-eight hundred and twelve pounds of silver, deposited Nov. eighteen nineteen. The second was made Dec. eighteen twenty-one, and consisted of nineteen hundred and seven pounds of gold, and twelve hundred and eighty-eight of silver; also jewels, obtained in St. Louis in exchange to save transportation, and valued at thirteen thousand dollars.
The above is securely packed in iron pots, with iron covers. The vault is roughly lined with stone, and the vessels rest on solid stone, and are covered with others. Paper number one describes the exact locality of the vault, so that no difficulty will be had in finding it.
While many have hunted the treasure, others doubt Beale’s entire existence and argue that the story is a hoax. To this day, cyphertexts 1 and 3 remain unsolved.