The History Behind Florida’s Treasure Coast: A Timeline

All About Treasure Coast

Florida's Treasure Coast (in red)
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Located just an hour away from Brevard County is Florida’s Treasure Coast, a popular region that makes for an excellent day trip. This region in Indian River County had been inhabited for years, but it was not until the 20th century that it gained recognition. This was the result of several notable discoveries relating to a major event in Florida’s history. If you are a local renter who is interested in visiting this area, take a few minutes to learn about the notable event that helped make Treasure Coast such a recognizable spot.

The Spanish Treasure Fleet

Treasure Coast’s name is derived from a fleet of Spanish ships that set sail close to the area back in the 17th century. It was one of many fleets used to transport treasures obtained in the New World so they could be delivered back to Spain. Many referred to it as the Plate

Fleet, due to the loads of silver onboard the boats. For those unaware, plate is derived from the Spanish word for silver, plata.

A week after departing, a violent hurricane struck the fleet. The crew got stuck in the Bahama Channel, and had no way to escape. As a result, eleven of the twelve ships were struck, and ultimately sank. Most of the crew members did not survive, and their pieces of gold, silver, and jewelry fell to the bottom of the ocean, where they remained for years.

What Happened to the Survivors?

As mentioned above, one ship did manage to survive the hurricane. The crew members aboard the ship were able to escape the storm, as they changed course when they realized things were going sour. Following their escape, the crew ended up on a Florida coast, and built a camp in the hopes of surviving.

Don Francisco Salmon, the fleet’s admiral sent some men inland to find help, and others tried to make a new boat. Some of the survivors attempted to recover pieces of the lost treasure, but this was a fruitless endeavor. The strong currents continued to move the gold and jewels around the seafloor; it was too risky to recover them. Rumors of lost treasure would soon spread, and ships would come from all around to seek it.

Treasure Has Been Discovered

8 Reales Mexican Silver Pieces
Source: Wikimedia Commons

In the 1950’s, another hurricane swept through the area and blew away the local sand dunes around Melbourne’s Sebastian Inlet, revealing parts of the sunken ship from the 1715 Treasure Fleet. Following the discovery of the Treasure Fleet shipwrecks, several interesting treasures were discovered along the coast.

One notable discovery was made by Kip Wagner, a local resident who recovered a piece of eight after investigating the alterations in the dune lines following the storm. After searching around, he also found the camp that the survivors made, and discovered various items and supplies. Following this, he formed the Real Eight Company to search for more treasure in the area.

Treasure Coast Gets Its Name

Indian River Lagoon
Source: Wikimedia Commons

John J. Schumann Jr. and Harry J. Schultz of the Vero Beach Press Journal were the first people to coin the term “Treasure Coast.” They used the term to describe the coast since treasure hunters starting coming in to recover the lost Spanish treasure from the nearby waters.

Since the region was never really given a name before, Schumann and Schultz felt a snappy nickname would help make the area stand out more. Following the discovery of treasure, the area became a popular spot for beachcombers and divers. Nowadays, people come here during the summer to try and find some of the lost treasure.

Interested in searching for treasure at some Brevard County beaches? Check out some of the hottest treasure hunting spots in the area.

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