In 1763, a well-off farmer buried many gold and silver coins in Charleston. However, he could not reclaim his treasures as the Indians killed him during the Pontiac War. To this day, the exact location of this treasure remains a mystery to treasure hunters.
Not only is West Virginia full of history, but it is also a place where treasure hunters can look for many finds. If you are in for the adventure, we listed 15 places where you can enjoy treasure hunting!
Metal Detecting Tip: Treasure hunting doesn’t mean making a mess, digging holes and destroying historic sites. Use some ethics and preserve history. Sharing pictures and documenting the location and researching the back story is the most important part of finding treasure. Read my article 👉 Metal Detecting Rules, Ethics and Laws
Among the list is:
- Tygart Valley River
- North Bend Rail Trail
- Potomac River
- Adena Burial Mounds
- Harpers Ferry
- Silver Run Tunnel
- Jennings Randolph Lake
- Big Sandy Creek
- Lake Shawnee Amusement Park
- Glen Jean School
1. Tygart Valley River – Randolph County
This river stems into the Monongahela River and is about 135 miles long. It is also a part of the Mississippi River’s watershed. The Tygart Valley River rises in Pocahontas County’s Allegheny Mountains and flows through four nearby counties – Randolph, Barbour, Taylor, and Marion.
Back in 1753, Europeans settled in the Tygart Valley River when Robert Files and David Tygart, named after the river, separately moved into the vicinity with their families. Not long after, the Indians in the area discovered the Files’ cabin and killed seven family members. One of the sons escaped and alerted the Tygarts, and they fleed for safety. No white people attempted to settle in the area until 1772.
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2. North Bend Rail Trail – stretches throughout Doddridge, Harrison, Ritchie, And Wood Counties
This abandoned railroad stretches 72 miles in the north-central and western West Virginia, parallel to US Route 50. Built in 1851, it is now one of the most famous railroad lines in the history of the United States.
It became one of the primary forms of transportation for years, bringing people from one county to another. However, the number of people riding the train declined when Baltimore & Ohio Railroad built the passenger railroad Amtrak in 1971. By 1985, the North Bend Rail Trail seized its operation entirely.
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3. Potomac River – Ohio County
The left bank of the Potomac River lies Between Maryland and Washington, while its right bank is between West Virginia and Virginia. The north part of the river is part of Maryland, and its south branch is part of West Virginia, except for the river’s headwaters that sit in Virginia.
Moreover, the Potomac River has two sources of water. The first source is the Fairfax Stone and the second water source is near Hightown, in the northern part of Highland County, Virginia.
4. Adena Burial Mounds – Martial County
Burial mounds are one of the most popular places for treasure hunters. The Adena people built the Adena Burial Mounds, hence the name, and they used their burial sites multiple times – a culture that ran from one generation to another.
The Adena Burial mounds were 26 feet deep and had 445 feet. A circular earthen embarkment surrounded each mound, allowing the people to figure out which parts of the land already had bodies buried.
Today, you can look for treasures in the Adena Burial Mounds, but you must first ask permission to know which parts you can and cannot touch.
Metal Detecting Tip: Many of the treasure spots in this article are by rivers and streams. Learn the techniques I use in this article – How to Metal Detect in Rivers and Streams
5. Kaymoor – Fayette County
This ghost town was once a mining and townsite. Kaymoor is not accessible by vehicle, so you must descend 821-step stairs to reach the abandoned old mines. Once you reach the place, you will see old signs and safety warnings that have been there since ancient times.
You must walk approximately 400 feet into the gorge to reach Kaymoor’s primary mining complex. After reaching the mining complex, you can walk for another 400 feet and find several more ruins. Kaymoor is a massive adventure for treasure hunters.
6. Harpers Ferry – Jefferson County
Harpers Ferry is a town with a population of 285 in 2020. It lay at the confluence of Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers and was the “best strategic point in the whole south” during the Civil War. Before the civil war, Harpers Ferry was a manufacturing town and transportation hub.
Harpers Ferry is one of the main tourist spots in Jefferson County. The Appalachian Trail passes through this town, making it popular for people who like recreational walking or jogging.
7. Silver Run Tunnel – Ritchie County
The Silver Run Tunnel is famous for its ghost and other paranormal stories. To reach this tunnel, you must start your trip in Cairo City, Ritchie County. This city directly connects to the North Bend Rail Trail, where you will need to hike into the west for about three miles. Once you reach mile marker 23, you will see Tunnel #19, which is more popular than Silver Run Tunnel.
Before exploring and metal detecting in the place, it is ideal to ensure that there are no permits required before.
8. Sewell – Fayette County
Sewell is an abandoned town near Babcock State Park. It can be a little tricky to locate, so you may want to ask park rangers for directions. It is also ideal for getting to the town using a 4×4 vehicle.
Once you reach the town, you will find the remains of coke ovens – old devices used to render coal into a hotter and purer form. While this ghost town is not a part of West Virginia’s protected areas, you should ask permission from local authorities before metal detecting in the place.
9. Thurmond – Fayette County
While labeled as a ghost town, Thurmond is not abandoned at all. It has five or six residents and river rafters come here frequently. Once you reach the town, you will see railroad structures and old buildings. The ancient site of the Dunglen hotel and casino is worth seeing, although it is no longer standing.
10. Jennings Randolph Lake – Mineral County
This lake is a reservoir that covers 952 acres of land. Its exact location is on the north branch of Potomac River and Mineral County. The US Army Corps of Engineers built the lake, which first named is Bloomington Dam.
In 1987, the government changed its name to Jennings Randolph Lake to honor the then West Virginia Senator who made various water resource projects within the state.
11. Nuttalburg – Fayette County
If you go treasure hunting in the New River Gorge, the ghost town Nuttalburg is a sight. The town has old building foundations marked with informative signages. The town also has an old mine complex, which you can reach by hiking up a steep hillside.
Nuttalburg is among the most intact coal mining complexes in West Virginia. So, you must be careful when treasure hunting after acquiring a permit.
12. Big Sandy Creek – Preston County
This creek is a 31.3-mile mountain stream that stretches from Fayette County, Pennsylvania, to Preston County, West Virginia. It flows through Bruceton Mills and Rockville before crashing down its confluence at Jenskinsbug.
The creek is also a popular spot for whitewater kayaking. One of the most popular kayaking sections of the creek is the Lower Big Sandy, where you will see two runnable waterfalls.
13. Lake Shawnee Amusement Park – Mercer County
Lake Shawnee Amusement Park is an abandoned site in Mercer County, West Virginia. Before the place became an amusement park, it was once a site for conflicts between the Indigenous Shawnee people and white settlers. Many years after this conflict ended, the Lake Shawnee Amusement Park opened in 1926.
However, two children died in 1966, prompting people to close and abandon the park. Today, it is a place where hunters can look for coins and other small relics.
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14. Winona – Fayette County
This unincorporated community has its name after the daughter of one of the town’s settlers, Winona Gwinn. From 1898 to 1900, Carter G. Woodson, an African-American historian, taught at a school in Winona. Black miners established this school so that their children could study and learn.
Since it is an unincorporated area, no local municipal corporation governs Winona. For this reason, you can treasure hunt on the site if you ask permission from the residents.
15. Glen Jean School – Fayette County
The abandoned Glen Jean School has no clear history, but some say it was once an elementary and a high school. However, some wall remnants suggest that it may have been an elementary school before it was abandoned. Some reports also say that it became a hospital for a short time.
Now, Glen Jean School is a site for people who want to see remnants of history and metal detectorists who wish to enjoy their hobby.
According to a popular legend in West Virginia, a man named Jonathan Swift excavated a silver mine in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky somewhere between 1760 and 1769. However, time passed, and Swift forgot where he found the treasure.
To this day, no one knows the exact place of the Lost Jonathan Swift Silver Mines. (source)
Metal detecting in West Virginia is legal. However, the laws governing this activity can be a bit tricky due to the limitations of the legality. West Virginia State parks allow metal detecting, but there are areas that you cannot access, and you need to ask for permission before you start digging.
Like any other state in the US, digging and removing artifacts older than 100 years is illegal. Additionally, hunters can collect and keep the coins they found, but they are prohibited from prospecting for gold.
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Moreover, you can metal detect in abandoned civil war cities, ghost towns, schools, and other establishments like railroads. (source)
When metal detecting is in West Virginia, and you happen to find modern treasures like coins and jewelry, you can bring them home with you as long as you have permission before metal detecting in a particular area.
However, it would be best if you did not touch treasures and artifacts believed to be more than 100 years old. If you think you excavated a historical artifact or relic, you need to contact the authority in charge of the site, such as a state park manager, and report what you found. (source)
Read more about West Virginia’s metal detecting laws. (source)
- In 2017, Boy Scouts from Huntington, West Virginia, unearthed a wooden box filled with coins, jewelry, and trinkets. A faded letter came with the box, saying, “finders to keep.” (source)
- In 2019, Ravensword, WV mayor Josh Miller tried to locate the Fenn’s Treasure, allegedly somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. (source)
- According to reports, several creeks and rivers in West Virginia have specks of gold, which you can find through gold panning. (source)
This bizarre tale says that a Spaniard man named Alfonso Marzo approached a farmer known as Shahan to help purchase a piece of land. Marzo offered gold to the farmer. Once Marzo could buy land and build a house resembling a dollhouse, he lived on his property for about four years before suddenly disappearing. Shahan then received a letter saying that Marzo hid a document named after Shahan. The document states that Shahan owns 330,000 dollars Marzo has in the US. Until now, the doll house treasure remains buried. (source)
During the civil war, an unknown soldier dropped by the Wilson farm in Monongalia County. According to the soldier, he searched for a vast fortune in the Buckhannon River Valley. This legend passes from generation to generation, and treasure hunters are still looking for the fortune today (source)
The Old Fort Seybert is at the center of Indian country. In 1758, there were attacks between the Indians and the Shawnee, prompting the Indians to flee. But before abandoning the fort, the Indians gathered up and placed their valuables in a large iron kettle. They tried to bring the gold and silver coins with them but realized it was too heavy, so they left the pot in Fort Seybert. No one knows where this treasure exactly is today. (source)
Lost Mines and Treasure Tales of the Appalachian States: Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia – Ivan Herring
This book is perfect for West Virginian treasure hunters searching for lost fortunes. It contains 85 stories about mines and treasures buried by the Indians, French, British, and Colonial settlers that went to West Virginia during different wars from the 18th to 19th century. (source)
10 Treasure Legends! West Virginia: Lost Gold, Hidden Hoards, and Fantastic Fortunes – Commander Pulitzer
This book contains ten legends of 14 trillion dollars of lost treasures in West Virginia. The other half of the book is a customizable personal logbook where you can list all the places where you hunt for treasures and what treasures you found in them. With this book, you will have a high chance of finding your long-lost gold and silver fortunes. (source)
Commander’s Lost Treasures You Can Find In West Virginia: Follow the Clues and Find Your Fortunes! – Commander Pulitzer
Commander Pulitzer will adequately teach you how to look for fortunes in West Virginia through this book. The contents of the book are the instructions and how-tos for finding the history’s long-lost treasures. Commander Pulitzer also shared the research formula he claims to have produced hunts in this book.
This book will improve your treasure hunting skills and increase your chances of finding treasures. (source)
David Humphries, Writer and Creator of METAL DETECTING TIPS. After borrowing my son’s detector and finding $.25. I felt like a treasure hunter. FREE MONEY! I was seriously bitten by the metal detecting bug.
- Mysterious WV. TREASURE: Jonathan Swift Silver Mines. Youtube Video 01:20. Posted By Mysterious WV. January 21, 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8EL2U5Voxo.
- “MDHTALK Metal Detecting State Law.” Metal Detecting Hobby Talk. http://www.mdhtalk.org/cf/city-regulation.cfm?st=WV#:~:text=Metal%20detecting%20is%20not%20allowed,removal%20of%20any%20item%20found.
- Mary Catherine Brooks. “Boy Scouts unearth ‘buried treasure’ in West Virginia.” CNHI. July 28, 2017. https://www.cnhi.com/featured_stories/boy-scouts-unearth-buried-treasure-in-west-virginia/article_7cdf8838-7610-11e7-b2c6-df7886750856.html.
- Jessi Starkey. “Ravenswood Mayor prepares for Journey to find Fenn’s Treasure.” Eyewitness News. May 25, 2019. https://wchstv.com/news/local/ravenswood-mayor-prepares-for-journey-to-find-fenns-treasure.
- Jodi “Jato” Thornton. “Gold Panning in West Virginia.” USA Today. March 21, 2018. https://traveltips.usatoday.com/gold-panning-west-virginia-111835.html.
- W. C. Jameson. Buried Treasures of the Appalachians: Legends of Homestead Caches, Indian Mines, and Loot from Civil War Raids. USA: August House, 1991. https://books.google.com.ph/books?id=VbNv9tgrQmEC&printsec=frontcover&dq=west+virginia+treasure+legends&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjAu4CNyLb4AhWQe94KHVEZAr4Q6AF6BAgJEAI#v=onepage&q=west%20virginia%20treasure%20legends&f=false.
- Lost Mines and Treasure Tales of the Appalachian States: Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Amazon. Accessed June 17, 2022. https://www.amazon.com/Mines-Treasure-Tales-Appalachian-States/dp/1983205001/ref=sr_1_3?crid=1O0IK8RLXSZ7U&keywords=treasure+hunting+books+west+virginia&qid=1655541617&sprefix=treasure+hunting+books+west+virgini%2Caps%2C283&sr=8-3.
- 10 Treasure Legends! West Virginia: Lost Gold, Hidden Hoards, and Fantastic Fortunes. Amazon. Accessed June 17, 2022. https://www.amazon.com/Treasure-Legends-West-Virginia-Fantastic/dp/1495445461/ref=sr_1_6?crid=1O0IK8RLXSZ7U&keywords=treasure+hunting+books+west+virginia&qid=1655541843&sprefix=treasure+hunting+books+west+virgini%2Caps%2C283&sr=8-6.
- Commander’s Lost Treasures You Can Find In West Virginia: Follow the Clues and Find Your Fortunes! Amazon. Accessed June 17, 2022. https://www.amazon.com/Commanders-Lost-Treasures-Find-Virginia/dp/1495351459/ref=sr_1_8?crid=1O0IK8RLXSZ7U&keywords=treasure+hunting+books+west+virginia&qid=1655541843&sprefix=treasure+hunting+books+west+virgini%2Caps%2C283&sr=8-8.