Earlier this summer, amateur treasure hunters made quite a stir when they announced the discovery of a long-lost Nazi gold train, buried under a pile of rocks in a Polish rail tunnel. It was a controversial claim to begin with, and now, scientists are saying it's just a load of malarkey.
"There is no train," Janusz Madej of the Polish mining academy said in a press conference on Tuesday, according to a report by The Guardian. "The geo-magnetic model anomalies would be far greater if there was a train."
Since Piotr Koper and Andreas Richter notified the world of the mythical train in August, journalists and other treasure seekers have flocked to the Polish city of Wałbrych to search for the booty. Scientists got involved, too. After the site along the Wrocław-Wałbrzych railway line was identified and cleared, a team from the Polish mining academy conducted a month-long survey using magnetic field detectors, thermal imaging cameras, and radar.
Their investigation did reveal some anomalies in the ground, but the unidentified objects were no more than 2m beneath the surface. The train, meanwhile, was supposed to be buried 9m down. Polish scientists suggest that overhead power cables may have skewed Koper and Richter's original measurements.
This is hardly a new brand of frenzied treasure-hunting. Nazi trains filled with gems, gold, weapons and stolen art have captured imaginations for decades. The legend is especially persistent in southern Poland, owing to the fact that Nazi Germany excavated a vast tunnel network in the Owl Mountains, for reasons that remain uncertain to this day. Locals say that amateur treasure-hunting was banned during the communist era, a fact which has only stoked the hopes of 21st-century gold seekers.
The Polish mining academy may feel that the case is closed, but Koper and Richter continue to insist that their evidence is sound. In fact, the treasure hunters reportedly handed "new research" to Wałbrych city authorities in a sealed envelope on December 7th. It isn't clear whether these latest findings have been vetted by experts yet, but given this duo's knack for drawing attention, it's probably safe to assume that we haven't heard the last word.
Image: A tunnel in Walbrzych, Poland, via Czarek Sokolowski/AP