Tales of buried treasure in the Ozarks

Inside the Old Spanish Treasure Cave in Sulphur Springs, Arkansas. (Image Courtesy: Michele Skalicky)

This story was originally published in an online radio broadcast by Michele Skalicky with KSMU, Ozarks Public Radio. You’ll can read or listen to the full publication, HERE.

SULPHUR SPRINGS, Ark. (KSNF/KODE) — Stories of buried treasure in the Ozarks have intrigued people for decades. Brooks Blevins, Professor of Ozarks Studies at Missouri State University in Springfield, said the tales go all the way back at least to the first French explorers in the Greater Mississippi region and the eastern part of the Ozarks in the early 1700’s, and they likely got most of their stories from Spanish legends before that. Blevins said those explorers came upon stories of silver mines. According to Blevins, there are even reports that some of the lead samples they sent back to France were laced with silver.

“What happens is, by the time American settlers start to pour into the Ozarks in the very late 1700’s and early 1800’s, these legends are already circulating of the lost and buried silver and gold and all that kind of stuff,” said Blevins.

Blevins has written several pages of notes on these buried treasure stories in the Ozarks. One such story comes from the Old Spanish Treasure Cave in Sulphur Springs, Arkansas, along the Missouri/Arkansas border. Paul and Tracy Linscott have owned the cave for more than 22 years. Paul Linscott has personally found part of a sword blade and a belt, and he’s heard stories of people finding gold coins, pieces of armor, weapons and a bracelet.

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A few years ago during a severe drought, Linscott and his wife, Tracy, were able to access a part of the cave that’s usually underwater.

“We went down to one of the springs, and we found some symbols that were carved in the wall. Now, one of the symbols looked kind of like a candy cane and then on the right hand side of it looked like a little eyeball and then above the eyeball there was some squiggly lines. Now, of course, we interpreted that as ‘turn around and look underneath the water.’ Of course, we weren’t standing in the water, so I looked where that eye was pointing and what we saw was a little space between a floor and the wall. Now, of course, we got down there, and we were looking in that space, we found a little room with a long pool of water.”

He said they immediately started digging down to open up the entrance, and they found old wood encased in clay. But they didn’t get the entrance large enough to access what was behind it before it started raining. The water immediately started to rise and the area quickly flooded.  They’re waiting for the next drought to continue digging. 

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But Linscott won’t mind if he never finds the treasure. He didn’t buy the cave, he said, because of the buried treasure story it came with.

“We love the cave, and that’s why we bought the cavern. I didn’t believe any of this treasure stuff, and it wasn’t until we found a few artifacts and started digging up and looking at some of the history to try and authenticate some of that, and then that’s when we believed that the treasure hunt is a real thing here,” he said.

The Linscotts love to show people their cave. They host movie nights inside one of the cave’s large rooms, they have a “camp in the cavern” program for Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Venture Crews, they host school groups for tours and, for a fee, and they offer seasonal cave tours to the public.

This story was originally published in an online radio broadcast by Michele Skalicky with KSMU, Ozarks Public Radio. You’ll can read or listen to the full publication, HERE. You can also read about more treasure stories in the Ozarks on the Springfield-Greene County Library District’s website, HERE.

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