In the early 1800s, the American Robinhood David “Robber” Lewis became famous for robbing the rich and giving the items he stole to the poor. Lewis was a successful highwayman who managed to escape prison four times. Before he died in the Bellefonte Jail, Lewis was able to write a memoir saying that he hid a total of $10,000 in a cave near the Juniata River and Conodoguinet Creek. No one has recovered the treasures up to this day.
If you are up to the challenge of searching for Pennsylvania’s lost treasures, we listed 15 places where hunters can dig for gold and other treasures.
Among them are:
- Canoe Creek State Park
- Fowlers Hollow State Park
- Archbald Pothole State Park
- Yellow Creek State Park
- Upper Pine Bottom State Park
- Samuel S. Lewis State Park
- Reeds Gap State Park
- Point State Park
- Ohiopyle State Park
- Laurel Ridge State Park
- Kettle Creek State Park
- Hillman State Park
- Gifford Pinchot State Park
- Codorus State Park
- Shikellamy State Park
1. Canoe Creek State Park – Blair County
Situated in Frankstown Township, Blair County, Pennsylvania, Canoe Creek State Park is home to a sanctuary of brown bats. Due to its vast woodland, many migratory bird species live in this state park.
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Canoe Creek State Park is a sight to see, considering that the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources chose it as one of the “Twenty Must-See Pennsylvania State Parks.”
The park’s closeness to nature made it a popular spot for people who like birdwatching and hunting. It also offers many recreations, such as ice fishing, boating, mountain biking, and hiking, among other activities.
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2. Fowlers Hollow State Park – Perry County
Fowlers Hollow State Park was once a sawmill before the Works Progress Administration developed it in the Great Depression. The park measures 104 acres and is near Pennsylvania Route 274. It is on the edge of Tuscarora State Forest and has a campground for people who want to try staying in the state park overnight.
Additionally, Fowler Hollow Run passes through this park, so there are trails for people who want to jog around the state park. Hunters and cross-country skiers also got to Fowlers Hollow State Park to access its surrounding forest.
3. Archbald Pothole State Park – Lackawanna County
Archbald Pothole State Park holds many stories of Pennsylvania’s history. For one, this is where you can find the Archbald Pothole, the 38-foot pothole that is a remnant of the Wisconsin Glacial Period. This pothole also serves as the state park’s main attraction, drawing tourists since it was discovered in 1884.
There are also several glacial formations near the state park, so expect high foot traffic in the area. Strip mining stripped off some of the land years ago. So, a part of the state park is now under reclamation. There are also plans to build athletic fields on the reclaimed land.
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4. Yellow Creek State Park – Indiana County
In 1963, Yellow Creek State Park encompassed some parts of Yellow and Little Yellow Creek. The name of this state park came from the man-made lake Yellow Creek, an earth and rock dam built last 1969.
Yellow Creek State Park has five miles of trails where people can hike while passing through different habitats. It also has a picnic ground for families, with the main picnic area being near the beach. You can dig for treasures in these picnic areas, but ask permission first to ensure that the park allows such activity.
5. Upper Pine Bottom State Park – Lycoming County
Upper Pine Bottom State Park is on the southwestern part of the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon. Opposite the Upper Pine Bottom is the Little Pine State Park. It is also the second smallest park out of Pennsylvania’s 121 state parks.
Despite Upper Pine Bottom’s size, it is an excellent place to visit if you want to do things in Lycoming County. For instance, you can watch the Upper Pine Bottom Run waterfalls, go fishing, have a picnic, and jog around until you reach the nearby Tiadaghton State Forest.
6. Samuel S. Lewis State Park – York County
Mt. Pisgah is the main view of the Samuel S. Lewis State Park. This 885-foot mountain separates East Prospect Valley to the south and Kreutz Creeks Valley to the north. The 85-acre state park consists of mowed grass fields, mature woods, and pine plantation,
Moreover, visitors of this state park may enjoy the scenic view when they hike to the top of Mt. Pisgah. The ridge offers a panoramic view of the fields and town surrounding it and the Susquehanna River. People may also enjoy hiking and kite flying in the state park.
7. Reeds Gap State Park – Mifflin County
Reeds Gap State Park is full of hemlock and white pine trees, making it a great place to visit for hunters who also want to get closer to nature. The Honey Creek flows in the middle of the woods, providing a constant water supply to the surrounding trees and making them lush. The creek is also a natural source of water for various animals.
Until the 1920s, Honey Creek in Reeds Gap State Park was a hunting ground for Native Americans. It is a place for hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, and cross-country skiing.
8. Point State Park – Allegheny County
This state park is at the tip of the Golden Triangle in Pittsburgh, particularly at the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers. Point State Park has the remains of Pittsburgh’s two oldest structures, Fort Duquesne and Fort Pitt, the central battlefield of Pittsburgh. There is also a museum named after Fort Pitt, which commemorates the French and Indian War.
Fort Pitt is now a National Historic Landmark as it played a considerable role in the strategic struggles between various colonists, so if you want to see a bit of Pittsburgh’s history. At the same time treasure hunting, Point State Park is a place to visit.
9. Ohiopyle State Park – Fayette County
Ohiopyle State Park’s main attraction is the Youghiogheny River Gorge. This river is one of the best spots for whitewater boating. The park opened in 1965, but only in 1971 when the US government declared it a state park.
Moreover, Ohiopyle State Park is one of the 25 Must-See Pennsylvania State Parks, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. For this reason, it is ideal to ask permission from the state park authorities before you start treasure hunting. This way, you will know if there are areas of the park where you cannot dig for treasures.
10. Laurel Ridge State Park – Cambria, Fayette, Somerset, and Westmoreland Counties
Laurel Ridge State Park views the Laurel Mountain and Youghiogheny River. This 13,625-acre state park passes through four counties, making it one of the largest state parks in Pennsylvania. Former Pennsylvania Governor Raymond P. Shafter declared Laurel Ridge as a state park on July 10, 1967.
Moreover, this park allows visitors to perform different activities, such as snowmobiling, hunting, and cross-country skiing.
11. Kettle Creek State Park – Clinton County
Kettle Creek State Park settles in a valley with wilderness and mountains. It is home to the Alvin R. Bush Dam that the US Army Corps of Engineers built-in 1961. Most of Kettle Creek State Park’s recreational facilities surface during the Great Depression. Additionally, Sproul State Forest surrounds the park.
Kettle Creek has a 167-acre reservoir that serves as a fishery for different types of fish. It is also a good place for cold water fisheries, while the other parts of the state park are open to hunting.
12. Hillman State Park – Washington County
You can find this state park within the Appalachian mixed mesophytic forests ecoregion. Most parts of the park are yet to undergo development, but there are various activities that you can do in the state park.
Moreover, this park is a wild area. For this reason, the Pennsylvania Game Commission manages the hunting activities in Hillman State Park. At the same time, the hiking trails are open for public use.
13. Gifford Pinchot State Park – York County
The 2,338-acre state park is in the north of York County, between Lewisberry and Rossville. The park’s colossal size allows people to hold a variety of sports, such as volleyball and golf. You can also have picnics on the large picnic ground of the state park.
Wooded hillsides and farm fields surround Gifford Pinchot State Park. The Pinchot Lake sits in the middle of the park and offers recreational activities like swimming, boating, and fishing. There are also camping grounds around the lake where visitors can build tents or park their motorhomes.
14. Codorus State Park – York County
Codorus State Park is a 3,500-acre land surrounded by Lake Marburg, an artificial lake with 1,275 acres. The artificial lake served as a dam providing Spring Grove drinking water and supplies the water needs of the P.H. Glatfelter Company’s paper plant. The creation of the park also led to the establishment of Codorus State Park.
Moreover, this state park is open for water and land activities like camping, fishing, and boating. Visitors can also access a 54-hole disc golf course and picnic tables around the park.
15. Shikellamy State Park – Northumberland and Union Counties
There are two parts of this park – the older part is on a hill located on the western bank of the Susquehanna River. On the other hand, the newer part is on Packer Island’s southern end. In this state park, you will also find the North and West Branch Susquehanna River confluence. The park is open for biking, hiking, and boat launch.
Shikellamy State Park is open all year round, with the day-use areas closing at dusk. It offers scenic views that attract people to visit the state park.
One of Pennsylvania’s most famous treasure stories is the legend of the lost Dents Run treasure. According to the legend, a shipment of 26 gold bars weighing 50Lb each left Wheeling, West Virginia, in 1863. The ship needed to avoid the Confederate Army, so it headed to the north-eastern part of Pennsylvania.
However, the ship never turned south to reach Harrisburg when it was supposed to, and no one knows where the gold bars were. (source)
Like many states, metal detecting in the state parks of Pennsylvania is legal. However, most state parks limit the use of metal detectors in certain areas. For instance, treasure hunters must not go beyond fenced areas or look for treasures in a way that would affect the use of the park’s facilities.
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Hunters can also use the metal detector on lakes and beaches, as long as they ask permission from the park manager. Additionally, underwater metal detecting is legal, provided that there is a distance from the shore and the activity will not affect others or cause damage to the park. (source)
It is ideal for metal detectorists to ask park managers’ permission before carrying on with their activities. This way, they can ensure that they are not breaking any state park rules.
The tricky thing about treasure hunting in Pennsylvania is that there are no clear laws that indicate what treasures you can keep or not. The only clear thing is that you can stay with modern treasures like coins and pieces of jewelry unless the original owner claims them.
Moreover, treasure hunters who find historical objects in state parks should contact state park managers when they dig historical treasures and relics. Individuals who found historical artifacts in public areas must call the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and report what they saw. (source)
There are various stories about treasure finds in the state of Pennsylvania. Below are the most interesting ones:
- In 2018, the FBI and treasure hunters allegedly searched for Pennsylvania’s fabled Civil War gold. (source)
- Following the search for the lost Civil War gold, people are now accusing the FBI of covering up an unreported digging for the said gold in 2018. (source)
- Pennsylvania father and son treasure hunters recently sued the FBI over claims that the organization found the gold cache through a secretive dig. (source)
A thief robbed a bank in Emporium, Pennsylvania, in 1902 and fled with $6,000 worth of money using his wagon. Days after the robbery, he learned that law enforcement officers were close to catching him, prompting him to bury his somewhere in Kushequa. To this day, no one has ever found the treasure. (source)
An unknown individual named Bowman arrived in eastern Pennsylvania in the late 1600s and settled on a low hill near the Delaware River. He buried his fortune near the hill before his death, but the exact location of the treasure is still a mystery. (source)
Sixty-year-old Dabold Hare arrived in Halfway Hollow in 1830 and established a small farm there. Hare did not want to put his gold coins in the bank and instead placed them in milk cans and buried them in different locations. Today, Hare’s treasures are still yet to be found. (source)
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- MysteriousWritings. “MW’s Friday Five: Five Lost Treasures of Pennsylvania.” Youtube Video. 0. 28. Posted by MysteriousWritings. June 30, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsLso5rIpiA.
- Metal Detecting in State Parks. Pennsylvania Department Of Conservation & Natural Resources. https://www.dcnr.pa.gov/StateParks/RulesAndRegulations/MetalDetecting/Pages/default.aspx.
- Treasure Hunters And Fbi Search For Lost Civil War Gold In Pennsylvania. NBC News. March 19, 2018. https://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/video/treasure-hunters-and-fbi-search-for-lost-civil-war-gold-in-pennsylvania-1189052483709.
- Fbi Accused Of “Covering Up” A Secretive Dig For Civil War-Era Gold In Pennsylvania. CBS News. June 13, 2022. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/civil-war-gold-dents-run-pennsylvania-fbi-video-cover-up-alleged-court-filing/.
- Pennsylvania Treasure Hunters Sue The Doj In Civil War Gold Case. The Philadelphia Inquirer. June 17, 2022. https://www.inquirer.com/news/gold-civil-war-elk-fbi-treasure-hunters-mint-20220104.html.
- W. C. Jameson. Buried Treasures of the Mid-Atlantic States: Legends of Island Treasure, Jewelry Caches, and Secret Tunnels. USA: August House, 2000. https://books.google.com.ph/books?id=SQW9xPnR3EkC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Treasure+In+Pennsylvania&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi10sHUgLT4AhWIA94KHXw9By4Q6AF6BAgIEAI#v=onepage&q=Treasure%20In%20Pennsylvania&f=false.
- How to Research for Treasure Hunting and Metal Detecting: From Lead Generation to Vetting. Amazon. Accessed June 15, 2022. https://www.amazon.com/Research-Treasure-Hunting-Metal-Detecting/dp/1480186775/ref=sr_1_3?crid=WCYEKMLQN5J3&keywords=treasure+hunting+books&qid=1655454394&sprefix=treasure+hunting+book%2Caps%2C291&sr=8-3.
- Buried Treasures You Can Find Over 7500 Locations in All 50 States. Amazon. Accessed June 15, 2022. https://www.amazon.com/Buried-Treasures-You-Can-Find/dp/0915920824/ref=sr_1_11?crid=WCYEKMLQN5J3&keywords=treasure+hunting+books&qid=1655454641&sprefix=treasure+hunting+book%2Caps%2C291&sr=8-11.
- The Metal Detecting Bible: Helpful Tips, Expert Tricks, and Insider Secrets for Finding Hidden Treasures. Amazon. Accessed June 15, 2022. https://www.amazon.com/Metal-Detecting-Bible-Helpful-Treasures/dp/1612435270/ref=sr_1_26?crid=WCYEKMLQN5J3&keywords=treasure+hunting+books&qid=1655454641&sprefix=treasure+hunting+book%2Caps%2C291&sr=8-26.