Two Long-Lost Maps Spark a Quest to Find Forgotten Pyramids in the Florida Swamps

Two Long-Lost Maps Spark a Quest to Find Forgotten Pyramids in the Florida Swamps

The maps and letters fell out of an aging file folder in a dark corner of a room called the "Curious Vault" at the Patricia and Philip Frost Museum of Science. Printed on yellowing paper, they pointed the way toward remote locations somewhere near the Everglades. And in the long-faded text, they provided a hint about where they led: "Pyramids in the Everglades."

I held up the papers excitedly. "Is this a damn treasure map?" I demanded.

What were these curious relics? To find the truth required solving a four-decade-old mystery involving two enigmatic characters: a former science museum curator who once became a world authority on the lost city of Atlantis and a shadowy treasure hunter once arrested for plundering Indian mounds.

Their stories, and the backstory behind the maps, point toward an untold corner of Florida's wild history of treasure-hunting profiteers and fringe characters obsessed with the swamp ape and lost civilizations.

L. Frank Hudson studies a map.
St. Petersburg Times
L. Frank Hudson studies a map.
J. Manson Valentine's sketch of a mysterious dagger.
Photo courtesy of the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science
J. Manson Valentine's sketch of a mysterious dagger.
Valentine in an undated photo.
Photo courtesy of the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science
Valentine in an undated photo.
Aerial photo that Valentine took of Mound Key in Estero Bay in 1969.
Photo courtesy of the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science
Aerial photo that Valentine took of Mound Key in Estero Bay in 1969.
Map leading to a mound outside Malabar, Florida, found in the archive of J. Manson.
Photo courtesy of the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science
Map leading to a mound outside Malabar, Florida, found in the archive of J. Manson.

But where do they actually lead? And are there, in fact, long-forgotten pyramids hiding in the swamps?

In this week's feature story about two long-lost maps that spark a quest to find forgotten pyramids in the Everglades, we try to find out.

 
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