News stories about lost gold treasure are generally heavy on mythology and scant on evidence. We see this common theme in a variety of treasure-centric legends, from Yamashita's Gold to the Nazi Gold Train to the fabled gold city of El Dorado, as well as many other myths.
In virtually all of these cases, the mythology is not corroborated by reality. One developing treasure story in Pennsylvania, however, may ultimately confirm a Civil-War-era treasure "myth" that has long been dismissed as fantasy.
News broke earlier this spring about efforts to excavate an area in central Pennsylvania where a huge cache of gold dating to the Civil War may have been buried.
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According to the legend, Union soldiers were transporting the gold to the Philadelphia Mint in 1863 when they were ambushed. The bullion was either stolen by the raiders or buried for safekeeping by the soldiers. So the story goes.
This narrative has yet to be proven more than 150 years later. Unlike some of the more fantastic "lost gold" theories out there, this one nonetheless seems plausible.
As tends to be the case with these kinds of tales, the quest for the missing Civil War gold is now taking a mysterious turn.
Two local treasure seekers, who are father and son, have been among the biggest proponents of this particular mythology. Although other groups have also pushed for a thorough excavation of the site, Kem and Dennis Parada have been scouring the area with metal detectors for years.
The two men promptly shared their findings with the FBI in March after their devices suggested that a massive amount of precious metal is lying beneath the ground in the nearby woods.
There was a similar claim made in the debunked legend of a Nazi train filled with gold hiding deep underground in Poland. A team of geologists using ground-penetrating radar (GPR) found nothing of interest.
In Pennsylvania, however, the behavior by authorities has been less transparent.
Now is a good time to emphasize that the following is opinion and speculation based on news reports, not a definitive statement of fact.
The Paradas were dismayed to find that the FBI had apparently discovered nothing at the site. But the dig was controversial: Agents did not allow the treasure hunters to watch the excavation take place, and the crew supposedly stopped digging just a few feet shy of where the Paradas believed the gold to be.
They were skeptical when the investigation concluded with no gold being found. Perhaps most suspicious was the fact that people living nearby the site reported hearing the noise of large machinery throughout the evening—long after the FBI had claimed to be finished.
It's hardly surprising that the FBI would be tight-lipped about an ongoing investigation. It does raise questions, though.
For their part, the Paradas are convinced that the authorities indeed found the gold and removed it from the site that evening. You can find more background about the story in this video report by FOX.
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Everett has been the head content writer and market analyst at Gainesville Coins since 2013. He has a background in History and is deeply interested in how gold and silver have historically fit into the financial system.