State Treasures - Pennsylvania

By Anthony M. Belli
From page 53 of the February, 2012 issue of Lost Treasure
Copyright © 2012 Lost Treasure, Inc. all rights reserved


Big Rock Massacre - Lost Gold
ELK – CAMERON COUNTIES – This story is largely based on research compiled and published by Pennsylvania historian-writer Frances X. Scully. The treasure is generally referred to as the Dent’s Run Treasure.
It is a well-known treasure, but not well supported in historic documents. Scully writes about a secret military gold shipment that met with foul play somewhere in the formidable timber country of Pennsylvania’s Wildcat Region. Twenty-six gold bars, of fifty pounds each, all remain unaccounted for.
After the Union defeat at Chancellorsville on May 6, 1863, Confederate General Robert E. Lee turned his victorious troops north towards Pennsylvania. A major victory for the Confederacy had left the North reeling and Philadelphia and Harrisburg preparing for battle.
Meanwhile, a small detachment of Union soldiers had departed from Wheeling, West Virginia, heading north escorting a wagon with a false bottom containing a secret gold shipment of 1,300 pounds.
The wagon was filled with hay to make it appear inconspicuous and lightly protected by eight cavalrymen so not to draw much attention. The detachment was under the command of a young lieutenant and led by a civilian guide named Conner. Only the lieutenant knew of the cargo being transported, their destination was Washington D.C.
In order to avoid Rebel patrols, the lieutenant’s orders were to proceed as far north as necessary to avoid detection before turning south for Washington.
The detail first stopped at Butler; the lieutenant who’d become ill and taken by fever rode in the back of the wagon. Conner, the guide, assumed command and continued northward through the Clarion Valley until the detachment arrived at Clarion.
Feeling better, the lieutenant resumed command. Certain they’d gone far enough north to avoid Confederate patrols, he turned northeast and headed for Ridgway.
The lieutenant’s plan once at Ridgway was to turn eastwards for the Sinnemahoning River near the town of Driftwood. There they’d construct a raft and float down river to Harrisburg where they’d be just 95 miles north of Washington. When the detail arrived at Ridgway in late June, they received a hostile welcome from the locals so they continued on to St. Mary’s, another nine miles further east.
Before reaching St. Mary’s the lieutenant went into a seizure and was again put in the back of the wagon to rest. In a state of delirium the lieutenant revealed the purpose of their mission and spoke of the wagon’s false bottom containing 26 bars of pure gold.
The guide and cavalrymen guarding the shipment were stunned, but forged ahead into St. Mary’s where the soldiers received a hearty welcome and spent the night.
The next morning, with the lieutenant still ill, Conner announced they’d continue on to Driftwood as planned, cautioning the expedition to prepare for rough mountainous terrain for the next 20 miles. When the tiny detachment pulled out of St. Mary’s, it was the last time they were seen alive.
In August, Conner dragged himself into Lock Haven 40 miles southeast of Driftwood. Half-crazed and harried, Conner said the detail had been attacked and wiped out in the Wildcat Region where the wagon and its cargo were hijacked. Who the attackers were is not mentioned in Scully’s account. The U.S. Army soon arrived in Lock Haven and picked Conner up.
Under interrogation, Conner reported the lieutenant had died of natural causes and was buried in the mountains. After that he claimed the detail was ambushed and fought a pitched battle during which he was rendered unconscious and had no memory of what occurred next.
Conner said he’d become lost in the mountains until he stumbled into Lock Haven. The Army didn’t buy his story and called in the Pinkertons to investigate.
Under cover, Pinkertons soon arrived in the region where many took jobs as teamsters and lumberjacks, but a year later they were no closer to breaking the case or finding the treasure.
Conner was inducted into the Army, sent to some western outpost where Scully claims he remained under the watchful eye of the military, and was never permitted a discharge.
When drunk, Conners boasted of the gold and once offered to guide someone to it. But, when he failed to locate Elk County on a map when sober, his claims were largely dismissed.
Clues were discovered over time. Several dead mules were found during the summer of 1863 along with horse trappings bearing the U.S. Army insignia.
Two or three years later a number of human skeletons were recovered from Dent’s Run that are believed to be those of the cavalrymen, though no gold was found.
Scully claims the government may have re-opened the case around 1968 and sent agents to the area, but the government has since disclosed little information about the case.
He also writes… “A short time ago, a St. Mary’s man came to me with some pieces of cherry wood taken from a big square bedpost. The bed was found abandoned in a home in Caledonia, 13 miles southeast of St. Mary’s. Many believe the treasure was lost near Caledonia. The finder thinks the message written on the pieces of wood and then nailed to the top of the bed had something to do with the treasure.”
Scully states “the message is written in the type of penmanship used in the 1860’s,” but fails to convey the contents of that message. Instead he states the year 1863 appears with mention of a two-hour battle near a “big rock,” ending with the words… “they see me.”
Theories abound suggesting the gold transport was ambushed by highwaymen or Copperheads. Others feel Conner masterminded the theft of the gold, while some believe Conner told the truth and the message found on the bedpost regarding the battle is factual.
Whatever the truth is, at today’s prices that lost gold shipment would be worth $33.41 million.Lost & Forgotten
Sites in Pennsylvania
GT: Gold Mine (LEBANON
COUNTY) – The ghost town of Gold Mine sprang up around a gold mine that was located here sometime after the 1830’s.
Today only old foundations remain though a cemetery is said to be in the vicinity.
Gold Mine is located roughly 8.1 miles west of Pine Grove. Take PA 443 west from Pine Grove then make a right turn onto Gold Mine Road. Continue north approximately 2.3 miles to the old Stony Valley Railroad grade, which is all that marks the site today.Rausch Gap Logging Camp
(LEBANON COUNTY) – I have little on this site. It was a railroad stop and had a railroad repair facility.
The ancient logging roads that once existed here are faint and appear reforested. Access to this site is on foot from Gold Mine.
Follow the old Stony Valley Railroad grade from Gold Mine southwest roughly 3.6 miles until you reach Rausch Creek.
From the small bridge over Rausch Creek, the camp is reported to have been about 125 yards NNW of the bridge.GT: Fall Brook (TIOGA COUNTY) – Founded in 1860 by the Fall Brook Coal Company of New York after its owners, John Magee and his son, Duncan, discovered coal on Fall Brook Creek. The company town consisted of stores and shops, a boarding house, and more then 40 dwelling homes. The Magees built a railroad that connected to the Corning & Watkins Railroad in New York where coal was then transported along the Erie Canal.
Two years after raising the coal town of Fall Brook, Pennsylvania, the railhead of the Fall Brook Rail line, it had 180 dwelling houses, one school, one general store, a saw-mill, three boarding houses, two carpenter shops, two blacksmith shops, three weighing offices and a population of around 1,400.
In 1864, Fall Brook incorporated as a borough and continued growing, adding a second school on Catawissa Street in south Fall Brook.
Fall Brook had three churches, six societies, and established the Alba-Fall Brook stage line in July 1869. Fall Brook reached its peak population in 1872 with about 2,300 residents.
The coal eventually ran out and, by 1900, Fall Brook’s charter was revoked and the town was abandoned.
The Fall Brook Cemetery is 2.4 miles northeast of Morris Run. Take River Road approximately 1.9 miles east from Morris Run to Fallbrook Road and go left. Continue north for a half mile and go right onto Hemlock Road.
Continue another 2/10ths of a mile and turn left onto an unmarked road; go to the dead-end and you’ll be at the Fall Brook Cemetery. Check locally for the location of the town.Sources:
Scully, Frances X., “Pennsylvania’s Lost Gold Ingots,” Coudersport, PA, Zito Media,
http://www.coudy.com/Austin/Scully5.htm
Gold Mine: http://www.ghosttow n.com/states/pa/goldmine.html
Fall Brook: http://www.ghosttown.com/states/pa/fallbrook.html
Tice, Joyce M., “1883 Tioga County History,” http://joycetice.com/1883/fallbrook.htm