Sunken Treasure at Hell Gate, New York City: Legend has it that beneath the East River lies millions of dollars in gold.

In 1780, during the Revolutionary War, a British frigate called the HMS Hussar struck a reef and sank to the bottom of the East River. Many people believe that the ship carried an enormous amount of gold as payroll for British soldiers.

Despite its location in the most dangerous waters in the area, treasure hunters have searched for the Hussar in vain for years. One submarine inventor lost his entire fortune in the search for the treasure, while other salvagers have sunk millions into the search. If the treasure is there, it seems that it doesn’t want to be found . . .

Highlights include:
• A loaded cannon found in Central Park in 2013
• Shipworms, aka the “Termites of the Sea”
• Hidden treasure maps found at the New York Public Library
• The inventor of the modern submarine
• The largest explosion before the atomic bomb

Pictures of the Hell Gate

 
Hallet's Point and the Hell Gate

Hallet’s Point and the Hell Gate

The Hell Gate, with the RFK and Hell Gate Bridge in the distance

The Hell Gate, with the RFK and Hell Gate Bridge in the distance

Hell Gate mural beneath the Hell Gate bridge in Astoria Park

Hell Gate mural beneath the Hell Gate bridge in Astoria Park

The Hell Gate and Hell Gate Bridge seen from Astoria Park

The Hell Gate and Hell Gate Bridge seen from Astoria Park

The bottom of the Hell Gate bridge

The bottom of the Hell Gate bridge

 

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Sources consulted RE: Sunken Treasure at Hell Gate

Articles consulted RE: Sunken Treasure at Hell Gate

  • “HUSSAR GOLD QUEST RESUMED BY INVENTOR: SIMON LAKE IN ‘BABY’ SUBMARINE TO INVESTIGATE 3 HULKS FOUND SUNK NEAR HELL GATE.” New York Times (1923-Current file), Aug 06 1935, p. 19. ProQuest. Web. 8 Nov. 2020 .

     

  • LAKE’S SUBMARINE FAILS OF LAUNCHING: Mother Ship is Unable to Pull It … Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES. New York Times (1923-Current file); Oct 7, 1934; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times with Index
    pg. 27

     

  • LACK OF FUNDS HALTS LAKE’S TREASURE HUNT: His Submarine to Be Auctioned if He Fails to Get $394 to Pay Deckhand. New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]21 June 1936: 23.

  • HUNT PIECES OF EIGHT.: Lake’s Submarine Retrieves Pail and Clam Shell in East River. New York Times (1923-Current file); Sep 27, 1935;
    ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times with Index
    pg. 23

  • LAKE THINKS HULK IS TREASURE SHIP: Inventor Believes He Has Found Wreck of Frigate Hussar in East River. CARRIED $1,800,000 GOLD Probing Reveals Hard Timbers in Indicated Position, and Treasury Is Notified. New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]26 Sep 1936: 17.

     

  • SIMON LAKE AGAIN SUED: Inventor Seeking $4,000,000 Gold In $1,800 Foreclosure Action. New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]11 Nov 1936: 2.

     

  • Simon Lake’s Home Is Foreclosed. New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]06 Mar 1937: 15.

     

  • SIMON LAKE GETS RESPITE: Court Grants New Delay in Foreclosure Sale of Milford Home. New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]18 Nov 1937: 18.

     

  • LYONS OFFERS GOLD TO BOOM THE BRONX: It’s Not His Gold and He Isn’t Even Sure It’s There, but He Believes in Hunting It AT BOTTOM OF EAST RIVER Book Says Frigate Hussar, With $4,000,000 in Bullion Aboard, Sank There in 1780 New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]12 Feb 1940: 18.

  • SIMON LAKE DEAD; INVENTOR WAS 78: Father of Modern Submarine Intended Craft Only for Use in Peaceful Pursuits HUNTED SUNKEN TREASURE Lost Fortune Attempting to Salvage Lusitania, Recover Millions in East River Built 100 Craft During the War Experimented in Baltimore Founded Bridgeport Concern Sought Lusitania Treasure Family of Welsh Origin. The New York Times, 1934.New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]24 June 1945: 22.

  • Ship of Dreams: Ship of Dreams
    Vanderbilt, Tom.New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]17 Feb 2002: cy1.

Books consulted RE: Sunken Treasure at Hell Gate

Websites RE: Sunken Treasure at Hell Gate

  • Devil places: https://spookygeology.com/devil-places/
  • Devil places map: https://gizmodo.com/hail-satan-a-map-of-all-the-places-named-after-the-dev-1456016654
  • https://gothamist.com/news/the-strange-history-of-nycs-mighty-hell-gate
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hell_Gate_Bridge
  • https://www.geographicus.com/P/AntiqueMap/HellGateRooseveltIsland-uscs-1891
  • Current nautical chart: https://charts.noaa.gov/BookletChart/12339_BookletChart.pdf
  • https://www.flickr.com/photos/wallyg/870743950/
  • https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/mill-rock-park/history
  • 1886 map: https://picryl.com/media/blackwells-wards-and-randalls-islands-and-adjacent-shores-of-east-and-harlem-31f143?zoom=true
  • https://vos.noaa.gov/MWL/aug_07/hellgate.shtml
  • Hell gate charts:
    https://celebrating200years.noaa.gov/new_york_charts/hell_gate.html
  • Removal of Hell Gate rocks:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Removal_of_Hell_Gate_rocks
  • The conquest of Hell Gate:
    https://www.nan.usace.army.mil/Portals/37/docs/history/hellgate.pdf
    https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/mill-rock-park/history
  • https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/mill-rock-park/
  • Hell gate map 1700s:
    https://picryl.com/media/map-of-new-york-i-with-the-adjacent-rocks-and-other-remarkable-parts-of-hell-cc02a9
  • Hell gate pics:
    https://picryl.com/search?q=hell%20gate
  • Opening hell gate:
    https://picryl.com/media/opening-hell-gate-at-a-cost-of-dollar7000000-map-course-of-wider-hell-gate-ab9a7f
  • Destruction of flood rock: https://picryl.com/media/destruction-of-flood-rock-at-hell-gate-2ef359
  • Rev war map: https://picryl.com/media/a-plan-of-the-narrows-of-hells-gate-in-the-east-river-near-which-batteries
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hell_Gate
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tidal_strait
  • https://www.givemeastoria.com/2020/09/17/a-treasure-under-hell-gate/
  • https://blogcritics.org/new-york-citys-hell-gate-bridges/
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Revolutionary_War
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Hussar_(1763)
  • https://www.nytimes.com/1985/09/26/nyregion/in-east-river-a-gold-frigate-and-high-hopes.html
  • https://www.nytimes.com/1985/09/29/weekinreview/the-region-raise-the-hms-hussar.html
  • https://www.nytimes.com/1987/08/09/nyregion/follow-up-on-the-news-about-that-gold-in-the-east-river.html
  • https://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/04/nyregion/finding-trash-and-worse-but-so-far-no-ship-with-treasure.html
  • http://www.simonlake.com/html/explorer.html
  • https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1934/10/13/hussar
  • http://www.simonlake.com/html/explorer.html
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_Lake
  • https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/13/nyregion/ny-harbor-wood-eating-shipworms.html
  • https://nypost.com/2004/04/19/worm-warfare-borer-destroying-our-waterfronts/
  • https://www.nytimes.com/1986/05/07/nyregion/diver-to-explore-east-river-wreck-for-treasure.html
  • https://mysteriouswritings.com/the-mystery-and-lost-treasure-of-the-h-m-s-hussar/
  • https://numa.net/2019/08/is-hms-hussars-treasure-in-a-landfill/
  • http://www.bronxmall.com/cult/film/page4.html
  • http://thesimonlakestory.com/
  • https://njscuba.net/sites/site_treasure.php

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