Hidden Treasure at First Landing State Park
The recreation attracts visitors, but so does the hidden treasure at First Landing State Park. First Landing State Park is a sprawling 2888 acre park with nearly everything you’d expect from a state park – including fishing, swimming, boating, hiking, and camping. The park is located in North Virginia Beach on Cape Henry.
The History of First Landing State Park
First Landing State Park doesn’t have a clever name – it is the spot where English colonists arrived in 1607. Because of its location off the Atlantic Ocean and all of the coves in the area, it made a great hiding spot in the days of pirates. It was an ideal freshwater inlet for merchant mariners. It was also an area well patrolled during war times. Now a National Natural Landmark, First Landing State Park is the most-visited park in Virginia.
There’s a lot to see at this gorgeous natural haven. The park has 20 miles of walking and biking trails, it has 1-1/2 miles of beach frontage along Chesapeake Bay, and there are forests, lagoons, swamps, and a plethora of flora and fauna to see. Whether you only spend a few short hours in the park enjoying the outdoors or you want to spend an entire day there, there’s always something to see or do.
Before becoming the park it is now, the area where First Landing State Park sits was one of Blackbeard’s favorite places to hide out from the military. Rumors have abounded for years about his treasure possibly hidden somewhere in the Narrows area.
The Death of Blackbeard the Pirate
You’ve probably heard the name Blackbeard – he is a well-known pirate when it comes to the history of piracy. He was a pirate for a short time, and while he did plunder a bunch of ships, he didn’t have much of a treasure hoard. He also manages one outstanding feat – he and his armada blockaded Charleston for almost an entire week.
Those adventures aside, probably the most talked-about story of Blackbeard’s life was his death. Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard, had his ship moored off Ocracoke Island when Lieutenant Robert Maynard of the British Navy got word of where the pirate was hiding. It was Alexander Spotswood, Governor of Virginia, who set the Lieutenant out on the pirate’s trail. The British Navy forces started their trek to hunt down Blackbeard on November 17, 1718.
Two sloops with 60 total men went after Blackbeard. These smaller ships were better able to get through the shallow waters of the Pamlico Sound they’d need to move through and many of the other small inlets where the pirates may hide later. Unlike the larger ship Maynard would usually use, these smaller ships weren’t equipped with cannons, leaving the men to use their hand weapons to defeat the pirates. Unfortunate for them, Blackbeard had cannons.
The troops reached the area where Blackbeard was on November 21. They didn’t get in the sight of the pirates and rather moored the boats to wait until the morning. While the British Navy was resting up for the attack the following day, Blackbeard and some of his men aboard the Adventure got to drinking and having a wild night along with a trader whose ship was parked alongside the pirate’s sloop.
The Lieutenant didn’t know for sure if one of the sloops was Blackbeard’s, but when morning light broke, they began moving closer in to make their attack. Both boats had some struggle on their trek, running aground and taking on water. Once they were both afloat once again, they’d already been spotted.
Alert to the ships coming up on them, Blackbeard had his men cut the line and get the Adventure moving. To aid in getting away, some of the pirates started shooting. Blackbeard didn’t get away and was headed off by Maynard’s boat. Some harsh words were spoken between Maynard and Blackbeard, in which Maynard let Blackbeard know that he intended to take him in, dead or alive. To counter that statement, Blackbeard started shooting off cannons at Maynard’s boats.
Some men went down on both ships from the first shots, but the vessel that was holding Maynard stayed in the thick of the fight. They damaged the sail on the Adventure, slowing her down. Then Maynard set a trap for the pirates by sending all of his men below decks to wait for Blackbeard to come for them. The damaged ships and the lack of firing in return from the British Navy made Blackbeard think that he had won.
Blackbeard did exactly what Maynard hoped he would – the pirate pulled up to the Lieutenant’s boat, and he and his men boarded. Maynard was then signaled by his pilot left above board, and he and a dozen of his men returned to the main deck for a major melee fight with the unsuspecting pirates. The slashing and firing only continued for six minutes. And when visibility returned from all of the gun smoke, Blackbeard was sprawled dead on the deck. All of the pirates who’d joined in the fight were dead or badly wounded. Those pirates still manning the Adventure were then face-to-face with Maynard’s men who boarded the Adventure to finish them all off. Some jumped overboard trying, to escape, but were shot in the water.
Blackbeard’s Ghost and Hidden Treasure at First Landing State Park
Before all of that fighting went down, and before Blackbeard lost his life, rumor has it that he buried what treasure he had where First Landing State Park now stands. He knew the Navy was after him and wanted to protect his plunders. While there are plenty of places Blackbeard could have hid his gold, if he actually had any, some believe that he buried his final treasure in the dunes along the waters of Chesapeake Bay. People have visited the area of First Landing State Park in search of the treasure for decades, but no one has found a thing yet.
What has been spotted roaming the shores of Chesapeake Bay is the ghost of Blackbeard, which one would think is easily recognizable by the facial hair that gained him his tough nickname – but the ghost seems to be headless. Some reports simply mention seeing the pirate’s ghosts, while others report that the specter lost his head.
Blackbeard’s ghost is rumored to only show up after dusk, so you’ll want to hang out until the sun goes down if you hope to spot the pirate. Perhaps if you dig where you see him, you’ll be the lucky one to finally discover his treasure. Metal detecting and digging require a special permit, so be sure to go through the proper channels before pulling out your shovel.
The Native American Burial Ground
One more thing about First Landing State Park that gives the place a haunting vibe for those interested in the paranormal is the Native American Burial ground located in the park. There are 64 members of the Chesapeake Indian Tribe buried in a small circle about twenty feet across. This wasn’t their original burial ground, which means that they were once disturbed from what was meant to be their eternal resting place. That sounds like a recipe for hauntings and some spooky outdoor poltergeists. The tribal members buried in this grave were originally in a sprawling burial ground that was dug up to make room for people’s homes. The bodies were moved into storage, mainly at local museums, until they could be reburied. There are still remains in some museums that have still not been laid back to rest.
Perhaps if you spend too much time within sight of this burial ground, you’ll see something paranormal. The grave is located near one of the park’s parking lots, with a sign announcing that it is a burial spot. Before you hang out near this spot, consider that it may be better to respect the resting place of these Native Americans who already had so much taken from them.
Whether you want to enjoy the sandy beaches or sprawling forests and wetlands, First Landing State Park is worth visiting. If you manage to hang out in an area of the park that doesn’t close at dusk, be sure to watch out for Blackbeard’s ghosts. If you hear drumming and chanting in the night while you’re camping, it could be the Chesapeake Tribe letting the world know they’re still not at rest.