The State of Oregon is riddled with more tales of buried treasure than the rest of the United States may think. Of these stories none have withstood their strength and credibility through the years like the tale of the 18th century chest said to have been filled with jewels, gold and a “giant dark man” thought to be a god.
As the tale goes, a Spanish fleet arrived just offshore from what is now known as Manzanita. As the Native tribesmen watched from a safe distance, a group of men ordered a “dark man” who was believed to be a slave to carry a chest up a hill into a wooded area. They would then bury the chest, still filled with its contents, as well as bury the dark man alive. The story would later gain credibility due in large part to discoveries made 70 miles south in Lincoln City, where one family made headlines over two generations.
Many locals of the Cascade Head Region know this legend of the “eight foot tall giant” who was thought to be a god, having been either shipwrecked or abandoned with two crewmembers sometime during the late 1700’s to mid 1800’s. Forced to settle in the area and befriend the Natives, women began to have children who bore a striking resemblance to the giant whom the tribe believed to be a god. Enraged, the tribe then killed the giant god and his two companions.
In 1932, a local man by the name of Elmer Calkins began breaking ground to build his new home when he made a vital discovery which would give the tale of the giant the verification it needed.
The lot on which the house was to be built, as it turns out, was actually a midden or shell heap – the garbage dump for the region’s tribe. Calkins, who grew up closely with the Native Americans in the area, knew the customs of their culture very well, so when he discovered a human skull in the shell heap, it was a slight cause for alarm – especially because Natives do not discard the remains of their dead with the trash.
As the day wore on, remains of two more bodies were discovered: one with an arrow through the head and another whose skull had been seemingly smashed in with a rock. Yet the most interesting portion of the story is that one skull in particular was “giant” by comparison to the other two adults. It would later be determined that the giant skull indeed belonged to an African male whose height was estimated to be around 8 feet. Together a corner and a historian from Oregon State University, Corvallis, dated the skeletal remains around 160 years old, placing the timeframe into the late 1700’s, roughly around the time the giant god and his companions were said to have arrived.
A few years prior, while gillnetting, Elmer had discovered a portion of a sunken ship in Three Rocks Bay. After the discovery made headlines, the masses began flooding into the area in search of pirate treasure. While Elmer never reported finding anything beyond the two aforementioned, his son Ed believed more was lying in wait somewhere out in the forest or the bay.
Believing the men were part of a pirate crew attempting to hide from the British, the younger Calkins applied for a dig permit in 1974. Since then, Calkins has recovered gold and silver items with the use of a metal detector around what is said to be the wreckage site.
With such striking similarities between the story from Manzanita and the remains discovered in Lincoln City, some believe it is hard to argue that this is just another tale of legend passed from one generation to the next. If the giant god and dark man did truly exist, is possible that the chest of treasure is still out there, waiting to be recovered from its burial site?
If you like this article, then you might enjoy other articles in our archives, such as Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine
Liberty Coin & Currency specializes in rare coins and currency. We are a family-owned business located in Portland and Vancouver. We are also gold, silver, diamond, currency and jewelry buyers. Visit us first for a free evaluation.