MISSING CIVIL WAR GOLD FOUND?
After discovering what they believe to be the location of what could be millions of dollars worth of Civil War-era gold, a team of treasure hunters from Clearfield County, Finders Keepers Inc., has been shut down in its efforts to unearth the treasure.
Finders Keepers members believe a shipment of gold that came through this area in 1863 during the Battle of Gettysburg is located in Dent's Run, near the Cameron County border. According to reports, the wagon train full of gold and the soldier guarding it were known to have made it to St. Marys from Wheeling W.Va., but were never seen again.
Finders keepers would like to excavate the site and solve the mystery, but its on land owned by the Commonwealth, meaning the group, and its founder Dennis Parada, would have to surrender the treasure to the state.
Parada's group found artifacts at the site that they believe lends credence to their claims. They took the evidence to Pennsylvania's Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and haven't seen it since.
"They took it all away from us," said Parada. "They took (the items) and sent them to Harrisburg right away for testing. They also told us that we had to stop digging or we'd all be arrested."
According to Elk State Forrester Jeanne Wambaugh, that's where Parada's version of the events differ with that of DCNR.
"Mr. Parada has been very cooperative and very understanding," Wambaugh commented. "But I think there has been some misunderstanding as to what was actually said to him. We (DCNR) never told him that he could not get a permit to dig, but we did tell him that anything he takes out of the ground on state land belongs to the state."
The items have been examined by the Pa. Museum Commission which ruled that the artifacts were not from the Civil War era. Ted Borawski, Chief of the Minerals Section of the Bureau of Forestry concluded the following in a letter to Wambaugh in 2005.
"There exists no credible evidence, either from the materials excavated from the site or from stories long-circulated in the local area or media, to support any conclusions that a lost federal gold bullion shipment from the Civil War was ever located on state forest lands in the vicinity of Dents Run…"
Parada disagrees. He claims that a bullet and casing found at the site have both been dated to the Civil War period by ammunition experts in the area.
He also said that using an instrument known as a Ground Penetrating Locator, his team has verified that there is gold deeply buried at the site, but they cannot prove it without a major excavation effort.
That's something DCNR is not going to let happen.
"Mr. Parada is free to pursue his story based on the materials (he has already uncovered there), but may not excavate any further on State Forest lands and may not perform any invasive investigation at the site whatsoever," Borawski wrote. "…It is unknown whether or not Mr. Parada has any specific claim or rights...but the Commonwealth certainly does not surrender any of its possible rights by allowing Mr. Parada access from a recreational hobby standpoint."
Parada believes the state is trying to protect the treasure for itself.
"I believe there is a small cover up and that they are trying to steal our share," said Parada. "The more a person looks at what we have, the more they agree that the state is going out of its way to keep us from the truth."
The treasure hunters said the state's stance has made them change the way they view the treasure.
"At first we were not in it for the money; just some kind of reward would have been good," Parada explained. "But now we believe that the state is trying to take it for themselves and give us nothing, so the fight is on."
Parada has contacted federal sources that have said that if there is Civil War-era gold on the site, it belongs to them, not the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
"We believe we should have some right to the find," Parada said. "But, until we can dig it up, no one is going to get anything."