Who, that had not spent many hours — even a lifetime — doing major research on the subject, could possibly have known the state of Maine would be so well endowed with treasure? C. J. Stevens has obviously spent the time doing the research, interviewing the principals in this drama but more — he has spent the time in the field on his own personal treasure hunt, and therefore is beyond qualified to write this book. It is an extension of a personal biography for him.
In his “The Next Bend In The River” he painted for us the Maine gold mining scene in intricate and beautiful detail, a tapestry woven of pan, shovel and dynamite. In “Maine Mining Adventures” he extended that theme with his interviewing and observational talent into gemstone and other mineral extraction adventures. In this third book of the trilogy, he completed his story of Maine’s treasure-trove grab bag by recounting major mineral discoveries, exposing us to local historic finds and by opening the subject of metal detecting of coins, bottles, and other artifacts of collector and museum significance.
A theme that runs through this book is the timelessness of these treasures. When a person finds a treasure it may be a natural mineral formation never seen by another human being, or it may be a tool that was used by an aborigine hunter/gatherer millenia ago, a trinket in use a hundred years ago or a valuable lost by someone in the present generation. In any case, treasures very often transcend people’s lives, and as such provide a semi-permanent, objective physicality of time and space — a source of wonderment for us all.
Stevens’ style is to shine his awesome investigative light on the treasure hunters and treasure losers as much as the treasure itself. He has the present day hunters divulge their tales of struggle, hardship and discovery. He finds that hunters rarely get rich, but “happiness in pursuit” seems to describe the state of mind of most, and almost none want to do anything else in life.
If this book had a typo in it I was unaware of its presence. In terms of phrasing and word choice, Stevens is a master. His prowess as a poet comes through in his prose and he uses his uniquely powerful language style to organize vignettes of historical characters and biographical snippets into a spellbinding narrative. I’m glad to recommend any and all of the trilogy. I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Buried Treasure Of Maine.
© 2005 R. Leland Waldrip