White Point Garden

Josh Gates (seated) of "Expedition Unknown" pauses between filming with First Scots Presbyterian Associate Pastor James Rogers near Charleston's Defenders of the Confederacy monument. A dig there in May 2019 failed to reveal treasure. Provided

They came. They saw. They dug.

But, as it turns out, they did not find the mysterious buried treasure that they thought was in Charleston's White Point Garden.

The team from the Discovery Channel's show "Expedition Unknown" received the city's permission earlier this year to excavate next to the Defenders of the Confederacy monument at the park's southeastern tip. But when the episode aired for the first time Wednesday night, it was revealed that the only thing they found was some rubble.

The rubble was not a surprise: Much of White Point Garden is filled land on what the colonists previously called "oyster point."

And so the decades-long mystery from the book “The Secret: A Treasure Hunt” lives on, at least in Charleston. The 1982 work features Byzantine images and verses that, taken together, are supposed to reveal the locations of treasures buried in 12 different U.S. cities. Only two have been found to date. Wednesday's episode also included a dig in San Francisco, which was also a bust.

Charleston Parks Director Jason Kronsberg gave the green light to Discovery’s dig because he had grown weary of so many emails and calls from “The Treasure” readers. He had hoped the program could put an end to the mystery once and for all.

Byron Preiss wrote “The Secret: A Treasure Hunt” as a United States version of the earlier U.K. book “Masquerade.” Preiss buried 12 ceramic keys (so no metal detector could find them) in different U.S. cities. He died in 2005 without revealing the urns’ locations or securing plans for the future transfer of the jewels that the book promises to those who find an urn (Charleston’s jewel is a diamond). The buried “treasure” is basically bragging rights.

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Reach Robert Behre at 843-937-5771. Follow him on Twitter @RobertFBehre.

Robert Behre works as an editor and reporter. He focuses on the historical landscape, including architecture, archaeology and whatever piques his interest on a particular day.