Safe Harbor Mini-Adventure: Haunted Gold

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Location: In Conestoga River Park, find a grove of trees between the baseball field and the canoe launch. 40°02’35.6″N 76°18’16.5″W.

History Brief: In the winter of 1870, treasure hunters descended on Safe Harbor. Each night their lantern lights could be seen on the surrounding hills searching for the $4 million in buried gold obtained during the chaos of the French & Indian War. Complicating the endeavor was the seven-foot-tall “Indian Spirit” who guarded the cache by moving it nightly.

Clue: In a grove of trees, find a 3D printed gray medallion with black lettering. It is attached to a tree and hanging around eye level. Record what’s printed on it. (two letters)

Find this tree with the gray 3D printed medallion. Record the two letters written on it.

Rest of the Story: In the winter of 1870, rumors began to circulate around the village of Safe Harbor. Deep in the forest at the dead of night, the light of a lantern could be seen. At first, no one paid the sight much attention. A lone light in the woods was not uncommon. A cow was known to wander off, and a responsible farmer would look for her regardless of time.

But the light was not a singular event. Over the coming weeks, more people reported seeing it. The ones that saw it did so frequently but rarely in the same spot. The lantern was spotted on both sides of the Conestoga River in the area surrounding Safe Harbor. Eventually, the realization came that the mysterious light was an almost nightly occurrence.

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Curious villagers ventured into the woods where the lantern had been seen. Their investigations found little except holes with piles of overturned dirt and salt scattered about. This did little to solve the mystery and only generated more questions.

What was this person searching for? It had to be valuable if it motivated a person enough to spend night after cold winter night in the woods. Not to mention digging in near-frozen dirt, even in Lancaster’s soft fertile soil, was no easy chore. With the excavation location changing almost nightly, it was as if the person had no idea where to look.

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In early February, people got some answers. It was a treasure hunter or, more specifically…treasure hunters. When someone from the group—proving Benjamin Franklin’s maxim, “Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead,” again true—began sharing details of their exploits. The information eventually made its way to a skeptical reporter. He described their activities in a February 5, 1870 article entitled “Foolish Fortune Hunters” of The Columbia Spy.

 “A number of foolish people, residing in and about Safe harbor, this county, are almost nightly engaged in a fruitless search for buried gold on the rocky and wild hill opposite the Mansion House hotel, in that village.”

But where did the gold come from?

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According to the loose-lipped treasure hunter, a fortune teller in Columbia had shared the uncanny story of the gold’s origin and its final resting place with the intrepid adventurers. The treasure believed to be worth $4 million had been taken from the French army by Indians in the chaos that ensued during the French and Indian War.

Of course, no proper buried treasure story would be complete without a supernatural component, and this prize is no different. According to the fortune teller, a seven-foot-tall “Indian Spirit” who moved the cache nightly guarded the treasure.

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If you would like to search for this buried treasure yourself, be sure to check out the Uncharted Lancaster Haunted Indian Gold Adventure.

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