For more than a century, Pirates used the Vermilion was used as a smuggler’s highway. Sparsely populated and untouched, the river’s direct access from the Gulf of Mexico made passage up to the Pinhook Bridge a great outlet to sell the loot captured from ships. In 1903, according to an article in The Times-Picayune, two men found “a large quantity of Spanish gold and silver coin recently found by them near the mouth of the Vermilion River.” The men brought a portion of their find to the Bank of Lafayette.
“At first blush, President Girard considered the matter a hoax. Close questioning only confirmed the apparent truthfulness of the story, which if verified. Will prove beyond doubt one of the riches and most remarkable finds of treasure made in this country,” (Times Picayune, Pirates’ Plunder, July 21, 1903).
The men said they found an old-fashioned cannon filled with gold and silver coin, “which they claim was discovered by means of a diving rod.” The newspaper says that the men came to the bank that day without the coin and left without giving further information.
“This story will revive in the public mind the tradition of Lafitte and his famous band of corsairs plundering Spanish treasure ships in the gulf and hiding the booty along the coast, or possibly hotly chased by warships, they pitched the cannon overboard in some obscure nook for future recovery. Hundreds of people throughout south Louisiana believe that hidden treasure may be found all along the coast and even in the interior. Excavations attest the conviction of many that great wealth has been stored away by the famous old sea robbers, and only awaits some lucky finder.”