Thomas Beale Treasure...The big question is, of course, does the treasure really exist?
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The ciphers may be genuine, but the treasure may have disappeared.

It could be a hoax, or a cover up for a Civil War bank robbery or a hijacking of federal gold.

Buford family graveyard is possible site of treasure.

It could also be a joke perpetrated by someone like Edgar Allan Poe, an expert cryptographer who attended the University of Virginia briefly in the 1820s.

A few speculate the National Security Agency already has cracked the ciphers and absconded with the treasure.

We will never know, they say, because it's classified.

Within the Beale Cypher Association, nonbelievers are distinguished by their willingness to share information, says Frank Aaron, a Florida computer systems consultant who is working on a book on Beale with a do-it-yourself guide for home computer buffs.WildlifeWins

"If someone believes in the treasure, you bet they are very secretive about their work. They want to know what you are doing, though."

Only historical research will solve the Beale mystery, says Carl Nelson, who, with the patience of a veteran CIA agent, is cross-checking Beale's story. Did Beale go West as claimed? Did he find the gold, and if so, what did he do with it?

Nelson's sleuthing has taken him all over the country, from Virginia court houses to Kansas, Missouri, Texas, New Mexico.

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