FBI May Have Been Digging for Lost Gold

Official line is that no treasure was found, but not everyone is so sure
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 8, 2021 6:55 PM CST
Emails: FBI Dug for Civil War-Era Gold
Dennis Parada, right, and his son Kem Parada stand in 2018 at the site of the FBI's dig for an 1860s shipment in Dents Run, Pennsylvania.   (AP Photo/Michael Rubinkam, File)

Go for the gold? The US government went for it. FBI agents were looking for an extremely valuable cache of fabled Civil War-era gold—possibly tons of it—when they excavated a remote woodland site in Pennsylvania three years ago this month, according to government emails and other recently released documents. On March 13, 2018, treasure hunters led the FBI to Dent's Run, about 135 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, where legend has it an 1863 shipment of Union gold was either lost or stolen on its way to the US Mint in Philadelphia. The FBI has long refused to confirm why exactly it went digging, the AP reports, saying only that agents were there for a court-authorized excavation of "what evidence suggested may have been a cultural heritage site." In any event, the FBI says, the dig came up empty. But the father-son duo who brought a small army of federal agents to the site remain convinced the FBI uncovered something there.

Their lawyer, Bill Cluck, is still pressing the case, successfully suing for access to government emails about the dig. Those documents show that federal law enforcement was indeed after buried treasure. "We believe the cache itself is in the neighborhood of 3x5x8 (feet) to 5x5x8," wrote K.T. Newton, an assistant U.S attorney, in a 2018 email. Because the Elk County site was on state-owned land, the FBI had to secure a federal court order to gain access. The legal maneuvering generated emails between Newton and Audrey Miner, chief lawyer for the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The gold would be worth hundreds of millions of dollars today—and, assuming it was there, would almost certainly touch off a legal fight over how to divvy up the spoils. The FBI has long been adamant that whatever the agents were looking for, they didn’t find it. But residents have told of hearing a backhoe and jackhammer overnight—when the excavation was supposed to have been paused—and seeing a convoy of FBI vehicles, including large armored trucks.

(More buried treasure stories.)

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