State Treasure - West Virginia

By Anthony M. Belli
From page 51 of the July, 2011 issue of Lost Treasure
Copyright © 2011 Lost Treasure, Inc. all rights reserved


Gold and Silver Reported Found in West VirginiaROANE AND WIRT COUNTIES – It could pay to do some local research to determine what became of the gold and silver mines discovered in 1886 and 1890 respectively.According to the New York Times of May 24, 1886, gold was discovered in "Roane and adjoining counties." The discoveries were made by Thomas Williams who, according to the Times, was a gold miner in California who’d returned to West Virginia.The story states Williams was working a test mine on Spring Creek, five or six miles from the Roane Courthouse where he’d dug a shaft "about 22 feet below the surface."It was reported that Williams found quartz rock and pay dirt containing gold and silver, which assayed in Washington, D.C., at "$125 or thereabouts per ton."The land along Spring Creek was leased by a New York syndicate who intended to begin work at the mine shortly.On May 5, 1890, the New York Times reported that… "mining and smelting of silver-bearing ore near Newark has been commenced."The story states that silver was discovered at the site about two months before and a local company formed, but had had difficulty securing capital, "owing to a suspicion that the alleged deposit had no existence in fact; but when the Government assay made at the United States Treasury showed an average of $65 per ton there was no longer any doubt, and the stock was soon subscribed for."The Times states a 500-pound capacity smelter was erected at the site and the mine proved to pay between averages of $60 to $70 per ton. I have no further information on either site. Jacko Inn Treasure SiteDODDRIDGE COUNTY – I do not know about a specific treasure that was ever lost here, but the old Jacko Inn, (pronounced "Jake-O"), named after its innkeeper, was located at the foot of Jacko Hill along Highway 50.Several tales of buried caches are attached to this site.Mystery has always surrounded the old inn and its owner. It is said to have been on the Underground Railroad and was known as a notorious rendezvous spot for a number of men whose activities always mystified the neighbors.Wealthy guests who frequented the inn were reputedly robbed then murdered, though nothing was ever proven.A cave was located on the hill where the inn stood about 150 feet from the road.Several skeletons are said to have been discovered inside the cave, but no money was ever found.Since runaway slaves would’ve been hidden within the cave, it’s doubtful any treasure would’ve been cached here, as Jacko would’ve been concerned about it being discovered and searched by authorities.Nonetheless, stories of buried caches are still told today in this region. But where was the Jacko Inn?Very little historic data could be found on this waystation or its owner, but research did turn up a written description of where the inn once stood.Unfortunately, Jacko Hill is a place name that is no longer in use today.Jacko Hill is said to be 1,205’ in elevation and located 30.2 miles west of Clarksburg (Harrison County) on Highway 50.One clue given states at 30.4 miles west of Clarksburg there is a dirt road that goes to Central Station.Map work compiled for this site indicates that Jacko Hill is most likely located on Highway 50, south of Central Station, between Right Fork Run Road and County Route 50/3, a distance of 1.65 miles.Another possible location would be on Highway 50 between County Route 50/3 and Duckworth, a distance of 1.84 miles. Actual location not determined.And if you happen to check out this site, here’s another lead that’s very close by. Baltimore & Ohio Express Train # 1 Robbed - $500,000 in Currency Lost!DODDRIDGE COUNTY – At midnight on October 8, 1915, two masked men armed with automatic shotguns boarded the westbound Baltimore & Ohio Express Train # 1.The masked men climbed over the coal to surprise Engineer Grant Helms and the fireman.At gunpoint the crewmen were ordered to cut the engine and mail car from the rest of the train before being told to drive on.After a few miles the outlaws had Helms stop the train and forced him and the fireman off.Like a man who knew what he was doing, one of the masked men took control of the throttle and ran the train another one or two miles west before they shut it down.Next they broke into the mail car and freebooted $500,000 in circulated U.S. currency being shipped by the U.S. Treasury to banks in the Midwest.Once they had the booty both men simply disappeared into the night.According to legend, the train robbers were later apprehended by officers, but that may not be the case.By following the story in newspaper accounts from 1915 for 10 years, I could find no mention of these two outlaws ever having been caught and no account of any recovery.Local research may provide more information. Ghost Towns of West VirginiaBurning Springs (RITCHIE or WOOD COUNTIES) – Once an oil-boomtown of the late 1880’s, the site of this ghost town has never been determined, but is thought to have been in the vicinity of Volcano and Petroleum. Gary (MCDOWELL COUNTY) – Gary may still have a surviving population today, but for how much longer in this economy is anyone’s guess.Once a prosperous coal-mining boomtown dating to 1895, Gary once boasted a population of 15,000.But, after the 1940’s, Gary’s slow decline became apparent.By 1970 the population had dwindled to little more then 2,700. Downtown buildings, and homes sat vacant and just four businesses remained opened in 1987.Gary is located on Highway 103, six miles south of Welsh. Sago (UPSHUR COUNTY) – Sago was once a stop along the railroad. It is located at the Railroad junction five miles south of Tennerton.To the best of my knowledge, Sago’s only claim to fame is as a landmark for treasure hunters.Near the head of Stone Coal Creek (below Sago) a series of cryptic symbols long ago etched into several rocks was discovered there.Treasure hunters who engage in cipher have stated the secret codes indicate that 1,555 pounds of silver was buried in the vicinity by the legendary John Swift.Located on the nearby Old Indian Trail are Indian Camp and Ash Camp.All three sites have long been associated to the famed Swift lost mines and treasures. Porterwood (TUCKER COUNTY) – Another Railroad stop located along the tracks three miles southwest of Parsons. In 1927, gold in quartz was discovered in nearby Sissaboo Hollow.The gold was in plenty, but of low grade. Deemed unprofitable to mine by 1927 gold standards, at today’s prices it could prove worthwhile. Meadowville (BARBOUR COUNTY) – Founded in 1784, Meadowville was a major trade center for over a century. But, by 1900, the town was in decline and never recovered. Meadowville can be found six miles north of Bellington. Sprigg (MINGO COUNTY) – This forgotten ghost town is located two miles northwest of Matewan. It is yet another landmark for treasure hunters seeking the Cooper Treasure.Local legend states that, during the Great Depression, a Sprigg farmer named Cooper buried his life’s savings by the barn on his nearby Tug Fork River farm. No recovery was ever made. Thurmond (FAYETTE COUNTY) – During the late 19th century, Thurmond was known as the gambling Mecca of the East.Located on the New River five miles east of Oak Hill, the town’s lesser-known reputation involved tales of brothels, saloons, murders, and robberies.In its heyday Thurmond was West Virginia’s Sin City; a lot of money changed hands here and it wasn’t always by choice.Local legend tells of many caches that were buried in and around Thurmond, and for whatever reason they were never reclaimed by their proper owners. Sources:The New York Times, May 24, 1886.The New York Times, May 5, 1890.Henson, Michael Paul, "West Virginia Treasures-Jacko Hill," February 1989, Lost Treasure, p. 10The Lowell Sun, Bandits Hold Up Train, August 10, 1915, Lowell, MA, p. 1Ancestry.com, Ghost Towns of West Virginia, http://freepages.history.rootweb.ancestry.com/~gtusa/usa/wv.htmTerry, Thomas P, U.S. Treasure Atlas, Vol. 10, La Crosse, WI, Specialty Publishing Company, p. 1076-1092.