By Adam McCully
Our first lost gold legend in the PA Great Outdoors region dates back to the Civil War. A young Yankee lieutenant was leading a supply wagon to Washington from Wheeling, accompanied by 8 cavalrymen and a guide. The plan was to go through northern PA so that they wouldn’t run across any rebel raiders. General Lee was heading towards Gettysburg at the time, and the cargo wasn’t to fall into his hands.
Just in case they were stopped, the wagon was fitted with a false bottom that held 26 fifty-pound gold ingots. The group made it to St. Mary’s without a hitch (except the one on the wagon) and then disappeared into the forests of Elk and Cameron county. They were just 20 miles short of their goal of Driftwood and the Susquehanna River, where they could float the load down to Harrisburg when tragedy struck.
A month later, the civilian guide, Connors, staggered back into St. Mary’s. He told the townspeople that the wagon was lost and he was the only survivor. He got the sympathy of the people, but not the Army. He told the military questioners that the lieutenant had died of fever and was buried, then about a terrific fight that ensued, and then…his memory failed. The Army put the famous Pinkerton detective agency on the case, and they swarmed over the forested hills. Eventually, the dead mules were found, and a couple of years later, the skeletons of the guards were discovered as well.
The Army drafted Connors into its service, and transferred him to a western outpost. He was going to be a lifelong member of the Armed Forces unless his memory improved. When he was drunk – a fairly common occurrence for him – he would tell everyone he knew the whole story and claim he could lead them to the gold, but when he sobered up, his “amnesia” returned and couldn’t even point out Elk County on a map.
Recently, a message from the battle was found. It mentions the year 1863, and a two-hour fight near a big rock. It ends with the cryptic line “they see me…” There are several theories that have stemmed from these discoveries. The first is that they were ambushed by Copperheads, anti-war fanatics of the era, or robbers found them. Some suggest Connors set up the whole thing and was double-crossed. But many people believe that no matter what happened, there’s $1,500,000 worth of gold still hidden in the mountain wilderness, waiting to be found.
One final note on the Legend of the Lost Gold Ingots. This is a sort of oddity, but if you work your protractor right, there are four lost treasure legends placed within a 50-mile radius of Emporium. So grab your metal detector and shovel and see if you can strike it rich by digging up Blackbeard’s Silver, Cole’s Gold, Kinzua’s Cash, or The Lost Gold Ingots.
Find more information on planning a trip to the PA Great Outdoors online at VisitPAGO.com or by calling (814) 849-5197.