November 19, 2004

Tonight on Nightline

Every afternoon in my mailbox, I receive an email that describes what story Nightline is likely to air that evening (subject to breaking news). Tonight's show sounds fascinating. Here's the scoop:

X MARKS THE SPOT
November 19, 2004

Everybody dreams of treasure. It's kind of a kid's thing. The thrill of looking at a map with that dotted line that leads to the X and the proverbial spot. The challenge of taking clues that lead you to the next one, around a corner, under a drain, into a dark forest. In books or for real; pirates, sunken chests overflowing with gold and pure exhilaration of discovery. As a child, the thrill of the hunt was one of the most exciting of adventures to pursue. But that was a long time ago and most of us aren't kids anymore. So, our story tonight is for all the dreamers who never found their treasure. It could be out there. You'll meet a man who never gave up that dream and he's turned it into a lifelong adventure.

Interest in the Civil War far exceeds that of any other period in American History. There are myriad clubs, thousands of books (published and being written) and movies that try to capture all the glory and tragedy of the war that nearly tore this country - quite literally - in half. The number of buffs who take their interest to an extreme and don the heavy wool of the gray and blue uniforms, trot out onto battlefields on sweltering hot days to re-enact some of the more famous fights of the Civil War show a devotion to an interest that is truly commendable. But there is a small community that specializes in an slight secretive sliver of that history that doesn't get a whole lot of attention. The primary goal of that community - and it's most devoted leader Bob Brewer - is to find the millions of dollars in stolen Union gold they believe is buried throughout the country.

So Bob Brewer is a treasure hunter who roams across the country with his metal detector and he's actually found treasure in the foothills of Oklahoma. He sees clues and patterns in the deep forests and woods that most people wouldn't give a second look to. Buried bits of metal, that all - in his mind - form a pattern and led to other clues and ultimately, treasure. A well-respected and award-winning journalist, Warren Getler, has just completed a book about Bob's adventures into the forests of America and into a "secret" slice of American history. The gold Bob is searching for - he says - is part of a series of hidden treasure all over this country.

John Donvan met up with Bob and walked into the woods of Arkansas to see what Bob sees and to find out exactly what he's looking for. It's a fascinating odyssey that Bob embarked on years ago. In what many would consider junk metal and old jars, Bob has found the pieces to his puzzle and gold along the way. His secrets and interest were handed down from his grandfather and his belief in his quest embodies the spirit of the Great Discoverers.

If you remember the thrill of that hunt for a treasure of any value from your own childhood, you may not want to miss this broadcast. A nod to the dreamer in all of us.