In the lost treasures of Pennsylvania, we will explore 10 lost treasures that are waiting to be discovered in the Keystone State. Pennsylvania was a pivotal state during the Revolutionary War. It was the second state to be admitted to the Union on December 12, 1787. A lot of important political and war history has taken place over the years in Pennsylvania.
A few of the lost treasure legends that we will be discussing in this article are lost gold in Lake Erie, hidden outlaw loot, buried kegs of gold coins, and much more. With so much history and many lost treasures to be found, I know you will find that Pennsylvania is an amazing state that you will want to visit and explore.
So without further adieu, I present the 10 Lost Treasures of Pennsylvania!
10 Lost Treasures of Pennsylvania
|Lost Treasures of David “Robber” Lewis||$30,000 in gold coins||Near Conodoguinet Creek and the Indian Caverns of Pennsylvania|
|Lost Gold of the Steamship Erie||$180,000 in gold and silver coins and jewelry||Beaches near Lawrence Park Township in Erie County Pennsylvania.|
|Lost Gold at Dent’s Run||52 gold bars that weighed 50 lbs. each||Near Dent’s Run, Pennsylvania|
|King George ll’s Lost Plunder||38,000 pieces of eight||The west side of the Delaware River, about three miles southwest of Chester, PA.|
|Captain Blackbeard’s Lost Silver||$1.5 million worth of silver bars||Near some mineral salt deposits close to the small unincorporated village of Keating Summit, PA.|
|Hidden Treasure of The Doan Boys Gang||$2 million||Any of the caves along the Delaware River|
|Silver Coins Wash Ashore at Orchard Beach||Silver coins||Orchard Beach is located where the Twentymile Creek joins Lake Erie|
|Lost Payroll Near The Kinzua Bridge||$40,000 in gold||Near the Kinzua Bridge in Kinzua Bridge State Park|
|Lost Treasure Along The Banks of The Potato Creek||$5 million in gold and silver bullion||On the banks of Potato Creek, about 2 miles from Coryville, Pennsylvania.|
|French Explorers Lost Kegs of Gold Coins||$350,000 in gold coins||Somewhere in Potters County Pennsylvania.|
Lost Treasures of David “Robber” Lewis
David Lewis was considered the “Robinhood of Pennsylvania” in the early 1800s. He lived a short life dying at the age of 30 in 1820. Lewis, also known as “Davy” or just “Robber” started out as a counterfeiter of money and went on to thievery as an occupation. Many people adored Lewis and some actually helped him evade the law.
Mr. Lewis even called himself “the equalizer” because he would steal from the rich and give to the poor. There were even newspaper accounts from the time that reports of David Lewis helping out the poor with his ill-gotten gain.
Over his short life, Lewis was arrested many times and broke out of jail constantly. Lewis and his gang of thieves would use the cave systems in Pennsylvania to hide out and also hide their loot. One huge cave they would use would be later called Indian Caverns which was a 500,000-year-old cave system made of limestone. The Indian Caverns were originally occupied by the Susquehannock people around 1600 A.D.
Eventually, Lewis was wounded when he was shot during a robbery. Authorities then caught up with him and he was sent to Bellefonte Jail. Before Lewis died of gangrene he wrote an autobiography and confessed to his jailers that from his cell he could see the cave where he claimed $20,000 in gold coins was hiding. He also confessed that there was $10,000 hidden in a cave on the banks of the Juniata River. And he said there was another treasure buried near Conodoguinet Creek.
Unfortunately, the Indian Caverns that I mentioned earlier are permanently closed to the public and are being used as a bat habitat so you will not be able to do any treasure hunting in the Indian Caverns.
These treasures lay unclaimed to this day but maybe just maybe there is a hidden treasure in the caves of Pennsylvania. Before you go treasure hunting in caves make sure you get permission and have the proper gear necessary to keep you safe while in the cave. Caves sometimes can be wet so make sure you have a waterproof metal detector with you.
Lost Gold of the Steamship Erie
On August 9, 1841, the Paddle Wheel Steamer The Erie made her final voyage. As she was headed West from Buffalo N.Y. she caught on fire when jugs of oil and varnish that were on the boiler deck caught fire and exploded. 242 lives were lost that day. The fire burned so hotly that it melted silver that was onboard.
The Erie sunk in about 69 feet of water a few miles off of Silver Creek, N.Y. The ship was said to be carrying about $180,000 in gold and silver coins and jewelry that belonged to the passengers onboard.
Although the ship was eventually raised by Van. Valk & Co. in 1854 and a portion of the gold and silver was recovered from the wreck most of it is still missing that is now laying at the bottom of Lake Erie. Gold and silver coins wash ashore on the beaches near Lawrence Park Township in Erie County Pennsylvania. These coins are probably coming from the wreck of The Erie.
If you are ever in Pennsylvania you might want to take a drive to Lawrence Park and check out the beaches there. You might come home a rich person!
Digging Deeper: Lost Treasures of New York State
Lost Gold at Dent’s Run
During the Civil War sending payroll to troops was a risky business and many unique ways were concocted to help conceal the payrolls while in transit. One such Union Lieutenant Castleton is said to have concealed his valuable cargo of 52 gold bars that weighed 50 lbs. each in a wagon that had a false bottom to it. The gold bars were headed for Washington D.C.
Castleton decided in order to through off Confederate troops he would leave Wheeling West Virginia go northeast through Pennsylvania and zig zag his way to Washington D.C. Rumor has it that Castleton contracted Typhoid Fever early in the voyage. The people that were traveling with him didn’t know about the cargo in the false bottom of the wagon until the Castleton told them about it because he was out of his mind with illness.
Soon after the traveling party vanished near St. Marys PA before they got to Susquehanna River on their way to Harrisburg. A while later one of the guides named Connor from the caravan showed up in Lock Haven and he was quickly questioned by Union soldiers there about what had happened to the Union Lieutenant Castleton and the others in his party.
Connor said that they were ambushed by thieves in the area. Dead mules were found but no gold. Then in 1870 seven skeletons were found in Bell Draft hollow near Hicks Run close to the area where the caravan went missing. So there might have been some truth to what the guide had said about them being robbed. But after the Civil War when Connors was drunk would brag that he knew where the load of gold bars was in the Pennsylvania Hills.
The Army is said to have looked around the area of Dent’s Run for years but they never did find the lost gold and it has never been recovered to this day. The FBI even did an excavation in Dent’s Run, Pennsylvania in 2018 but as far as we know they didn’t find anything.
King George ll’s Lost Plunder
Britain was at war with Spain called the War of Jenkin’s Ear between 1739 and 1748. Supposedly King George ll would higher privateers (a proper name for pirates) to commandeer vessels such as merchant ships that had treasure in their cargo and the privateers were supposed to share or give up totally to the King what they had seized from the Spanish.
This story takes place in 1742 around the end of the war when two of the privateer ships that King George II sanctioned took over a Spanish merchant vessel and stole 22 tons of mercury in ceramic flasks and 38,000 pieces of eight that the Spanish ship was carrying. After they had seized the valuable cargo they headed to their homeport which was based in Philadelphia, PA.
The two privateer captains decided they didn’t want to share the plunder with the King so they stopped off on their way to Philadelphia along the Delaware River. They took the 38,000 pieces of eight onshore and buried it on the west side of the Delaware River about three miles southwest of Chester, PA.
A few weeks had passed when they went to dig up the king’s plunder but a huge storm had flooded the area where they had buried it. The 38,000 pieces of eight had washed away presumably down the Delaware River. The treasure was never recovered and could very well be scattered at the bottom of the Delaware River near Chester, Pennsylvania!
Captain Blackbeard’s Lost Silver
Did you know there was a second Blackbeard other than the famous Edward Teach? Well, there was and legend has it that this Blackbeard was a British Sea Captain and that he took the treasure from a sunken vessel that had sunk in the waters of the Bahamas in the early nineteenth century.
Captain Blackbeard had recovered $1.5 million worth of silver bars from the shipwreck in the Bahamas. He then set out for Baltimore Maryland where he was going to ship the silver bars to London England for the Crown. But before he made it to port in Baltimore his ship was about to be attacked by French Pirates.
Instead of risking capture, he set anchor near the Susquehanna River and loaded the silver bars on wagons, and headed inland. Where they got the wagons is anyone’s guess. After some time Blackbeard realized how rough and tumble the land was in that area. He decided to bury the treasure in an area that was rich in mineral salts close to Keating Summit, PA.
Blackbeard went on to Canada and then back to England. Colonel Noah Parker was sent from England to guard the treasure site. Some believe Parker stole some of the silver bars because he supposedly all of a sudden had money to spend. But he claims that he never even saw the silver bars just guarded the spot where Blackbeard claimed that he had buried them.
So in the woods somewhere near some mineral salt deposits close to the small unincorporated village of Keating Summit may be over a million dollars worth of silver bars just waiting to be discovered!
Hidden Treasure of The Doan Boys Gang
The Doan Boys sometimes called the Plumstead Cowboys were brothers from a Quaker family that was known for British Torries and spied for Britain during the Revolutionary War. The Doan Boys are said to have committed many robberies and murders in Bucks County of Pennsylvania.
The Doan Boys were also known for robbing tax collectors, stealing horses, and of course, being traitors to the Patriot’s cause. On August 28, 1783, a posse was formed when they found out where the Doan Boys were hiding out. Eventually, each one of them was caught and killed or hung.
While they were on the run it is said that the Doans would use caves along the Delaware River to hide out and cache their loot. In all, it is said that the Doans successfully received $2 million in ill-gotten gains. One of the stories states that they hid some of their loot outside of Philadelphia among other areas.
I would suggest checking out any of the caves along the Delaware River to look for the Doan Boys loot. There could be millions of dollars just waiting to be discovered in those caves.
Silver Coins Wash Ashore at Orchard Beach
Lake Erie home to many shipwrecks over the years. It is said that local residents have been finding silver coins that surface on Orchard Beach after storms come through the area. These coins are believed to be coming from the numerous shipwrecks in the area.
Orchard Beach is located where the Twentymile Creek joins Lake Erie. This would be one beach you may want to visit with a metal detector and sand scoop or shovel to search for those lost coins.
Lost Payroll Near The Kinzua Bridge
500 people were once residents of the village of Palmerville that is no longer in existence in Pennsylvania. This town had a stage station where payrolls would come and go from. One day in 1893 one of the stagecoaches was delivering a payroll of $40,000 in gold. A lone outlaw robbed the stage and took off west. Many farmers saw him flee.
For weeks the residents of Palmerville looked in the woods for the man and the gold when they finally found him but he had contracted a sickness and was wandering around in vain. On his death bed, he would talk about the stolen payroll saying see the bridge. He also mentioned something about glass bottles and a three-cornered rock.
The doctors believed these were clues on the whereabouts of the treasure. Many believed he was talking about the Kinzua Bridge that was nearby and they search the area around the bridge but they never found the gold. If the gold was buried near the Kinzua Bridge it has never been located and could still be there waiting for one lucky treasure hunter to come along and dig it up.
Unfortunately, most of the bridge was destroyed in a powerful tornado that ripped through that area of Pennsylvania on July 21, 2003. The remaining bridge and its ruins are now in the Kinzua Bridge State Park so you will want to get permission for doing any treasure hunting or digging there.
Lost Treasure Along The Banks of The Potato Creek
Colonel Noah Parker was a millionaire who is said to have buried $5 million in gold and silver bullion somewhere on the banks of the Potato Creek in 1812. Potato Creek joins up with the Allegenhly River about 2 miles from Coryville, Pennsylvania.
French Explorers Lost Kegs of Gold Coins
French Canadian explorers who had ended up in New Orleans in the 1690s decided they needed to head back to Montreal Canada. On their journey back to Canada they are said to have been carrying $350,000 in gold coins in kegs. I can imagine those kegs were some very heavy and cumbersome cargo to be carried in those days when most of the land was wild and untouched!
They planned on venturing up the Mississippi River to Ohio getting on the Allegheny River and then crossing Lake Erie to Canada. When they got into Pennsylvania they had a run-in with the Seneca Indians. As far as we know no one was killed but the explorers decided to bury the kegs of gold near the base of a huge rock formation. And they would come back at a later time to pick it up.
Two Jesuit priests who were traveling with the explorers said that they carved a cross in the rock so they could later identify where the kegs of gold coins were buried. The French explorers were never able to return for the lost treasure and according to Seneca Indian Legend and a supposed map drawn by the explorers, the treasure is buried somewhere in Potters County Pennsylvania. What an awesome find that would be!
Digging Deeper: How Deep Can a Metal Detector Detect Coins
Conclusion – Lost Treasures of Pennsylvania
With so much history it’s no wonder that Pennsylvania holds many lost treasures that are just waiting for some lucky treasure hunter to find. I hope you enjoyed this article on lost treasure tales as much as I love writing about them. There is buried treasure all over this beautiful country we live in. Until next time Happy Treasure Hunting!
Cory Haasnoot is an author, entrepreneur, metal detecting enthusiast, antique, coin collector, and founder of Treasure Seekr.