State Treasures - Rhode Island

By Anthony M. Belli
From page 59 of the February, 2012 issue of Lost Treasure
Copyright © 2012 Lost Treasure, Inc. all rights reserved

The El Dorado of the East
STATE OF RHODE ISLAND – Occurrences of gold in Rhode Island historically have produced yields too low to support commercial mining. In checking the price of gold at the time of this writing I found it selling at $1,606.25 per ounce.
For the weekend prospector who wants to get outdoors and see if he / she can pick up some color, the good news is gold has been found at a number of locations in R. I.
Providence County has produced a number of gold deposits, like the Durfee Hill Mine, 2.75 miles west of Glocester, which dates to the 1700’s and was worked until abandoned about 1900 when it was reported the gold petered out.
Newspaper reports in 1979 announced new deposits had been discovered at the mine and speculation was that the mother lode was very close to these new rich deposits.
Hailed as the El Dorado of the East, the “mother lode” failed to produce the anticipated results.
As of July 2011 it is reported that the mine is closed and the shaft filled in. A stamp mill and cyanide vats remain on the site.
Nine miles south of the Durfee Hill Mine and 6.5 miles south of the village of Foster, a number of gold mines sit east of Cucumber Road along Gold Mine Road.
Known as the South Foster gold mines, four open pits are reported flooded at this site where the ruins of a stamp mill can also be seen.
Another site in Providence County where gold has been found is in the vicinity of Diamond Hill in the northeast section of the county, 2.5 miles north-northeast of Cumberland and just southeast of the intersection of Diamond Hill Road and Pine Swamp Road.
Gold is suspected to exist in northwest Providence County about three miles north of Burrillville on the Massachusetts State Line, three-tenths of a mile south of Douglas, Massachusetts, where gold has been discovered.
Since South Douglas shares the border with Rhode Island, and there is no state-line fault, it is believed the gold deposits extend south into Rhode Island.
Gold was mined in the Johnston area of southeast Providence County. Ruins of the old mine remain, including a diabase dike cut across granite and schist, old cyanide vats, and sluice boxes.
Other areas where gold has been found include reports of gold with pyrite in quartz veins in Kent County, west of the City of Warwick.
And there are two areas where the geology is right for finding gold, but both are entirely speculative.
The first area is along the beaches of southern Rhode Island in the black sands west of Narragansett Bay.
The second area where gold may exist is in the rocks along the western border of Rhode Island and Connecticut.
I found one prospecting group in Rhode Island whose contact information wasn’t current so they may now be defunct.
But a good contact source for either novice or long-time treasure hunters in that state is Ray Rodriguez, president of the Southern New England Treasure Hunters Club, or (Sne-Tres-Hunt.)
Their website is, or you can contact Ray by clicking on the “Contact Us” tab.
Remember, check local laws before prospecting and always obtain permission before entering private property.Robber’s Corner
WASHINGTON COUNTY – Locating Robber’s Corner was a research task in and of itself, as this once infamous historic junction has had several place names dating back to its founding in 1663.
The first documented town in this region was a settlement named “Wickforde.”
The British colonist living there adopted the name on July 10, 1663, but it was changed to “King’s Towne” when the town incorporated under the King Charles II charter on October 28, 1674.
Today both towns have their own identity; being located on Narragansett Bay, the town of Wickford can be found six-tenths of a mile south of North Kingstown.
Robber’s Corner earned its nickname as a result of the numerous stage holdups that occurred in this vicinity on the road leading into Wickford proper.
The more common name for the site is Wickford Junction located 3.2 miles west of Wickford.
It has long been said that a number of robber’s caches were buried in this vicinity and never recovered.
Wickford Junction is located on Ten Rod Road at South Country Trail.Lost & Forgotten
Sites of Rhode Island
Aquidneck Island (Rhode Island), NEWPORT COUNTY – During the Revolution, 20 forts protected this 15-mile long island.
Their locations, however, have been lost to time. Several major battles were fought on the island and are well marked today.
A historical survey of the island in 1897, done by the Portsmouth Historical Society, documented over 1,000 structures predating 1800 that remained in ruins on the island.GT: Ramtail, PROVIDENCE COUNTY – Ruins of the Ram Tail Factory and Mill, and the neighboring ghost town of Ramtail (a company town) founded in 1799 by William Potter & Associates, can be found 3.95 miles southeast of Foster as the crow flies.
The site sits off Ramtail Road, south of Danielson Pike (Highway 6) and west of Round Hill Road.
The business served as a worsted mill for quite some time before one of the partners, Potter’s son-in-law, Peleg Walker, who also worked as a night watchman at the factory, had a significant falling out with the family.
One day Potter was talking to Walker about opening the factory in the morning.
Walker blurted out…“Take a key from a dead man’s pocket!” and left.
Stunned, Potter didn’t know what to make of the comment and quickly dismissed it.
Soon after, 35-year-old Walker was discovered in the belfry hanging from a rope, dead of an apparent suicide.
As promised, the keys for the factory were found inside his pocket. And that’s when the trouble began.
One of Walker’s jobs was to ring the bell on-schedule to summon the workers.
Now every night at midnight the bell inexplicable rang by itself.
Potter removed the rope to the bell inside the belfry, but the bell continued to ring at midnight for some time.
Finally the bell was removed, but even that didn’t silence it.
Workers soon began to report sightings of Walker seen with his lantern walking through the factory at night.
After closing and locking up the factory one night the family was awakened by a loud din coming from the mill.
When they entered the factory they stood paralyzed.
The mill was running at full speed, every loom, wheel and spindle turning… but no one was there.
Then late one night the people living in town were awakened by an “unearthly” sound coming from the mill.
Several people soon arrived to investigate the noise, as did Potter.
By now everyone had heard or witnessed some of the unexplainable events occurring at the mill immediately following Walker’s death, and many were already spooked.
They quickly found the source of the irreverent sound coming from the mill’s enormous water wheel.
Standing closer for a better look, Potter and several others watched in disbelief.
The noise seemed to emanate from around the axel while the water wheel ran backwards against the current flowing through the flume.
In turn the action was producing a gruesome outcry heard for miles.
Was the unholy trepidation unleashed on the people of Ramtail that night Walker’s vengeance from beyond the grave?
Real or imagined, it was the deathblow for the Ram Tail Factory & Mill, and the ruin of William Potter & Associates.
As Potter contemplated the force (will) driving his insubordinate water-wheel, and deafened from the satanic clamor, he wasn’t readily aware that much of his workforce, many already daunted by previous "events," had panicked and fled into the night.
Some never stopped for personal belongings and never looked back.
The further they got from the mill the fainter were her cries while in the throws of death.
The site was later torched in 1873. In 1885, the State of Rhode Island Census listed the Ramtail ruins as a “haunted building.”
It remains the only officially recognized haunted site in the state.
Sightings of Walker swinging his lantern as he passes through the ruins or of a faint bell ringing in the distance continue to be reported by those who frequent this area today, though few claim to have ever heard the story.Sources:
Pallante, Anthony J., “Rhode Island – Gold Site,” November 2001, Lost Treasure, p. 50, Rhode Island Gold,
Gold Occurrences in Rhode Island,, Durfee Hill Gold Mine,
Terry, Thomas P., “U.S. Treasure Atlas – Volume 8,” 1985, La Crosse, WI, Specialty Publishing Company, p. 871-872, Ram Tail Mill Site,