In the heart of Pennsylvania’s picturesque elk country, a region known for its natural beauty, Eric McCarthy and his client, Don Reichel, embarked on a chilly morning expedition in search of “brown gold” – the shed antlers of elk, a coveted find for collectors like Reichel. Little did they know that just a hill away, a team of FBI agents was on a very different kind of treasure hunt, one involving the metallic yellow kind – Civil War-era gold. This seemingly improbable scenario unfolded more than five years ago and has since sparked a heated dispute, a legal battle, and an enduring mystery. In this article, we’ll delve into the intriguing tale of the FBI’s quest for buried Civil War gold in Pennsylvania and the questions it has raised.
The Quest for “Brown Gold” and Metallic Treasure
Eric McCarthy, a 45-year-old elk guide, had never met Dennis Parada, a treasure hunter, but he found himself drawn into a web of intrigue when Parada claimed that the FBI had uncovered valuable Civil War-era gold, sparking a legal battle. McCarthy decided to share his own experiences, feeling that Parada had been treated unfairly throughout this ordeal.
On that fateful day in March 2018, McCarthy and Reichel set out before sunrise, hoping to spot a fresh rack of antlers. As they combed the forest, they heard an unexpected clang of heavy machinery in the distance. Their curiosity piqued, they ventured closer and witnessed an unusual scene on the opposite slope of a hill: a parked excavator, a smaller piece of equipment moving up and down the hill, and a group of people huddled under a makeshift canopy. There was an unmistakable sense that something significant was afoot.
Later that day, while taking a lunch break, McCarthy and Reichel watched as a convoy of unmarked black SUVs and armored trucks rumbled past them on a nearby road. One of these armored trucks appeared to be heavily loaded, riding low compared to the others. Both McCarthy and Reichel remarked that it looked “loaded to the gills.”
These observations are crucial because they challenge the FBI’s official timeline of events. According to the FBI, their search team didn’t arrive at the excavation site until 8 a.m., which is well after McCarthy and Reichel claim to have witnessed signs of activity. This discrepancy raises questions about the FBI’s actions during those early morning hours in the woods of Pennsylvania.
The Legend of the Lost Gold
To understand the significance of the FBI’s excavation, we must delve into the legend that inspired this search for Civil War-era gold. While historical evidence is scant, the legend suggests that an Army detachment lost a shipment of gold in the Pennsylvania wilderness, possibly after an ambush by Confederate sympathizers. This story has captivated generations of treasure hunters, including Dennis Parada.
Parada’s belief that he was on the trail of this legendary gold cache received scientific support. In 2018, the FBI reported that its geophysical consultant had identified an underground metallic mass at the site. This mass, with the density of gold, weighed up to 9 tons, sparking the interest of both treasure hunters and federal authorities.
A Clandestine Night Dig?
The eyewitness accounts provided by McCarthy and Reichel paint a compelling picture of what may have transpired in Dents Run that day. The distant hum of machinery, the sounds of metal on stone, and the sight of heavy equipment all suggest that excavation work was conducted. Parada and his associates view these accounts as evidence of a clandestine night dig, conducted under the cover of darkness.
Warren Getler, a consultant working closely with Parada, questions why anyone would conduct a nighttime dig unless they sought to remove the gold discreetly. This suspicion adds further intrigue to the story.
The FBI’s Stance and Ongoing Legal Battle
The FBI, however, vehemently denies that it conducted a secret dig or removed any gold from the site. The agency maintains that its presence at Dents Run was part of a legitimate excavation effort within the confines of the law. According to FBI spokesperson Carrie Adamowski, “No gold or other items of evidence were located or collected.”
This dispute has escalated to the courts, with Parada pressing the FBI for more information about the dig. While a judge did force the FBI to release a trove of photos and documents related to the excavation, key records, including the operational plan for the gold dig, remain undisclosed. Parada and his supporters believe that these records might contain crucial information about any overnight excavation activity.
Continuing the Quest
Despite the legal battle and the FBI’s denials, Parada remains determined to uncover the truth about the lost Civil War-era gold. Recent geophysical surveys have identified underground anomalies near the original excavation site, further fueling his quest. He’s even exploring potential partnerships with government agencies to conduct additional excavations on the land.
In Parada’s eyes, this isn’t just about treasure hunting; it’s about uncovering a hidden piece of history and finally revealing a story that has remained shrouded in mystery for generations.
As the legal battle continues and the mystery deepens, the legend of the lost gold in the heart of Pennsylvania elk country remains a compelling and enigmatic chapter in American history. Whether or not the truth will ever be fully revealed, the pursuit of “brown gold” and metallic treasure in the woods of Pennsylvania has left an indelible mark on the landscape and the imaginations of those who dare to seek it.