Although West Virginia does not offer as many treasure sites as some of the other states, there are still hundreds of miles of rivers, which played a great part in the development of the state, abandoned coal and lumber camps, Indian and Civil War battle sites, forts, trading posts, old churches, steamboat stops along the Ohio River. Other places of interest to treasure hunters make the state a worthwhile place to visit and search.
Sometime during the 1950s, two deer hunters discovered an old mine shaft in Clay County, and the mine they explored proved to have a very rich vein of gold. There were also enough mining relics nearby to indicate that it had been working at one time but not recently. The shaft was in a heavily wooded area and was well concealed. It had been pure luck that they found it.
They were naturally excited about the find and completely forgot about hunting deer. When they left the area, they vowed to return and reopen the mine but failed to consider the terrain and the identifying markers to lead them back.
The two men returned to their jobs and waited until they had the time to return again, but when they finally did return to the area, they could no longer find the mine shaft. This mine is still waiting to be found. The Starcher family of Clay County has the entire story on this, all but the exact location of the mine.
Before the Civil War, a silver craze struck the area of Doddridge, Lewis, and Harrison Counties. Different people found small amounts of silver. A hole in the side of a mountain on Dry Fork, near Big Isaac in Doddridge County, is the entrance to what was once a cave with a smelter for melting ore and counterfeiting silver dollars.
In 1929, Solomon Day, aged 86, gave this story account to a newspaper: “The silver was pure, there was no doubt of that, and was gotten from several different places. The crime was in using a Government stamp on the coins. A prominent farmer named Abraham Collindaffer told me of seeing as much as a half-bushel of silver dollars. There was every reason to believe that plenty of silver existed in the region.
A man named Childers made the money molds in his blacksmith ship. When officers went to arrest him, he escaped by swimming a large creek, and he was never seen again. A gang had passed the counterfeit coins up and down the West Fork River.
“What finally broke up the gang was the arrest of Isaac Perine, the gang leader. He was put in prison for a term. When he was released, he assaulted a young girl, a mob took him to Tom’s Fork, and he was never seen again. So he didn’t get any of the silver he knew about. Some people still look for these mines and buried silver, but as far as I know, they have never been found.”
Here is a story briefly of a treasure buried at Fort Seybert. In 1758, a band of Shawnees attacked Fort Seybert, now Pendleton County. Those settlers who escaped the massacre gave the following account of their captivity.
After leaving the site of the fort, the Indians led the settlers along a pathway still known as the Indian Trail, which crosses South Fork Mountain onto their destination in the Ohio River Valley.
The valued possessions and treasures belonging to the settlers were collected in an iron kettle, a pole was inserted through the handle, and two braves carried the treasures. As trudging up the east slope of South Fork Mountain became more burdensome, and the fear of pursuit made faster travel advisable, the two Indians fell behind the traveling group.
When they rejoined the captives and the other Indians, they were empty-handed; apparently, they had hidden the treasure in the mountain. That the Indians later returned to claim the valuables is doubtful, as this was their last known raid into the area.
Somewhere along this old Indian Trail is a cache of priceless valuables that, as far as records show, has never been recovered.
This is a condensed version of the story of a lost silver mine in West Virginia, giving the essential facts and directions. I quote:
“About Indian Camp on Indian Camp Run (in Upshur County), there is an interesting tradition of a lost silver mine and a fabulous buried treasure of silver bullion. The mine’s origin antedates the Revolution, with some apparent foundation of truth. The mine was worked by a party of Spanish and English adventurers, who were nearly exterminated by their Indian allies. At the Indian camp in 1883, I was shown the ruins of the ‘silver mine,’ but I was never able to locate the vein of ore. I also was shown a small polished stone disk, pieces of basketry, and a piece of drossy metal that had been taken from the waste of this mine, which upon examination, proved to be silver. I also examined a figure, or symbol, carved on a large sandstone boulder in a nearby rock shelter, known as the ‘Chimney Rocks,’ it crudely represented the compass with four points of directions shown. On July 15, 1867, Dr. L. S. Farmsworth found some legendary rock inscriptions on the head of Stone Coal Creek. In company with Valentine Lorentz, Farnsworth visited the area, and on an immense flat rock was found the inscription. About three-quarters of a mile northwest of this carving was found up an upright stone bearing this inscription ‘S’; the ‘S’ is thought to mean silver. Three-fourths of a mile further northwest, a small rock shelter was found. Back from the entrance was a large stone slab several feet across that had fallen from overhead. Carved in the shelter’s roof was a circle with four compass points. Across the surface of this circle was a well-defined “pointer” like the needle of a compass. In 1883, several ancient tools were found in a cave on Grass Run Creek, close to Indian Camp. They were described as ‘strange-looking.’ Several historians and researchers believe that straggling bands of early Spanish explorers from the Southern Tidewater penetrated the Virginia and Kentucky wilderness, where they found gold and silver. They were either killed or absorbed into the Indian tribes through marriage.”
This story of the lost mine was first written by Lucullus V. McWhorter of Buckhannon, West Virginia, in 1915, and the story was a direct quote from this article. Indian Camp is located on Indian Camp Run Creek, about fifteen miles south of Buckhannon, on Route #4.
A little-known site of what could be called treasure today, and certainly worth a small fortune, is two railroad cars filled with whiskey lost in the early 1900s. This location should be of interest to treasure-hunting scuba divers.
The two box cars are in New River, in the Hico-Fayetteville area. Local research could probably pinpoint the exact location. The whiskey, according to local information, has not been recovered.
For the person interested in doing local research on treasure locations, the area of central West Virginia has many tales to tell. In the early days, pirates brought different kinds of booty up the rivers into the isolated plateau areas of the Cumberland and Allegheny Mountains. Also, bank robbers would come into these hills after a robbery, bury their loot in some out-of-the-way place, then wait until they could safely return for it.
One such legend concerns John Gratton and his wife. They settled near the head of Rooting Creek. Although John’s wife died soon after they built a cabin, he continued to live there alone.
One evening during the early 1900s, a stranger visited Gratton’s isolated cabin. The man driving the rickety wagon explained to John and a neighbor that he had camping supplies for a hunting party that would arrive later. They would camp further up the mountain.
Gratton agreed to help the stranger unload the wagon. The first item taken to the campsite was a large covered iron pot. It was so heavy that a pole was inserted through the handle so the two men could carry it. John’s neighbor watched the two men go into the woods, and then he went home. Sometime later, the stranger was seen passing back down the road in his wagon. Neither Gratton nor the stranger was ever seen again.
A few months after the stranger and Gratton had disappeared, a family named Harper moved into the cabin. Strange noises were heard at night, and finally, the Harpers moved away. One story is that the large iron pot was filled with money from a bank robbery and was hidden on the mountain and that the Harper family had found it.
Another version is that the Harpers were scared away by the ghost of John Gratton and that the money is still there. During this time, there were several bank robberies around Gilmer County, so this would be a good place to do local research.
During the 1930s, a cattle buyer was at the John Kelly farm and did not have the correct change to complete a cattle sale. One of John’s brothers went into the house and returned with a gallon bucket of coins, including some gold ones.
When someone remarked that he had plenty of change, the brother said, “That’s nothing; you ought to see the pile of money stored in an old log in the house.”
The last Kelly died in 1945, and no one knows what happened to the money. The farm is at the head of the left fork of Possum Hollow, just west of Minnehaha Springs in Pocahontas County. Floyd Shrader, a local farmer, now owns the farm.
This is a little-known treasure location that reportedly involves $330,000 that has had very little, if any, searching done for it because it has, until very recently, been mostly a family secret. Here is the story as it was told to me.
John Shahan lived near the junction of Bear Camp Run and the left fork of Buckhannon River, about a mile downriver from Palace Valley, located in the extreme southeast corner of Upshur County.
In or about the year 1898, a man named Alfonso Marzo came to Shahan to buy enough land to build a cabin. Shahan granted his request, and a cabin was built across the railroad tracks and a short distance downriver from Shahan’s house. Marzo claimed to be a blacksmith, but his only possession other than the cabin was a large, strong box.
He had plenty of money, but the only work he ever did was to make children’s toys and build a miniature house with windows and all details, about the size of a dollhouse. He seemed to attach much importance to this small building for some unknown reason.
Suddenly, as mysteriously as he arrived in the area, he disappeared. A few years later, Shahan received a letter from the man in prison in Spain then. The letter stated that a large amount of money was hidden and that its exact location would be revealed if Shahan agreed to send two-thirds of it to him.
Shahan believed the money to be from a local bank robbery that had happened about the time Marzo disappeared. For this reason, he did not answer the letter. The amount of money mentioned was supposed to be $330,000. Marzo died either in or out of prison because he was never heard from again.
In 1970, a granddaughter of John Shahan still had the old, faded letter, written in green ink and mixed English. This is the letter in its entirety:
My dear Sir,
I am imprisoned in this city, and knowing your honesty and personality, I beg to beseech you herewith whether you want to come here to take away my equipages seizure in order to seize upon a trunk containing a secret in which I have hidden a document indispensable to you to come in possession of 330,000 dollars that I have in the United States. As a reward, I will yield you the third part of the aforesaid sum.
Fearful that this letter doesn’t arrive in your hands, I will wait for your answer, and then I will tell you my secret with every detail and subscribe with my name. As there is a newspaper that published all the cablegrams whose addresses are unknown, which it is allowed me to read, and I cannot receive here in the goal of your reply, you must send a cablegram to the address indicated at the end.
Notwithstanding your cable does not reach me, this will be sufficient to know that you accept my proposition.
Waiting eagerly to read your missive.
I only inscribe
Above all, please answer by cable, but not by letter as follows: Alfonso Marzo, Ysabel Catolica ZO Madrid, Yes – Julius.”
A priest probably wrote this letter for the prisoner, and it can be assumed that one-third of the money was for Shahan, one-third for the priest, and the other third for the prisoner. This was the only correspondence Shahan ever received from Alfonso.
The letter leads me to believe that his money was not part of the bank robbery about the same time Marzo disappeared. Because there wasn’t that much money taken in the hold-up, Marzo had the strong box when he first came to Shahan’s home several years before the bank robbery occurred. Several unanswered questions are:
Was the money American or Spanish? Why did Marzo return to Spain? Why was he put in prison? Was he an ousted aristocrat, or was the money connected with politics in Spain or with the Cuban War of 1898? (This was the same year he came to West Virginia.)
This could explain how he had such a large amount of money and why he moved to a small, obscure place in West Virginia and never told anyone where he came from. Perhaps Marzo’s family was still in Spain and danger. This could be why he returned and was, for some reason, put in prison. Maybe he hid the money in West Virginia because he planned to return to the United States later.
What happened to the doll house? It disappeared when Marzo did. Did it have something to do with the money, or was it just a father’s fancy, remembering daughters he had lost?
Did Marzo hide (which he almost certainly did) the money near the cabin he lived in? He would almost have had to for Shahan to be familiar with the area and be able to find it. In 1970, one of Shahan’s granddaughters could still remember when she was a child, sitting on the strong box and playing with toys and the doll house.
The letter is genuine, and the people involved in this story are honest mountain folk that I am sure told the truth concerning Alfonso Marzo. About a mile downriver from the junction of Bear Camp Run and the Buckhannon River is where the cabin of Alfonso stood in the early 1900s. I believe the treasure is buried nearby; to my knowledge, it has never been recovered.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, John Jennings was living with his wife and two small sons about three miles from New Martinsville, West Virginia, in Wetzel County. Jennings joined the Union Army in 1861. After a few months, he deserted and came home. A few days later, the “home guards” came after him. Jennings escaped into the woods, hiding until President Lincoln issued a pardon to all deserters that would return to the army.
John returned to the service and stayed until the war ended. After being discharged, he was ostracized in his community. This caused hardship for his two sons, Frank and Jack, and resulted in their becoming embittered by the local citizens.
In their late teens, they decided to get revenge by becoming outlaws. They organized a gang of ex-convicts and fugitives and started robbing and stealing. The next few years saw a reign of terror in the hills of Wetzel County.
Finally, in 1873, several men organized a vigilante group called the Red Men. They visited all the known farms where the Jennings gang had stayed or been helped. Each farmer was told to leave the county and not return, and his home was burned.
Although John Jennings (the father of the two young men) had nothing to do with the gang, the Red Men went to his home and demanded that he tell them where his sons were. When Jennings tried to explain that he did not know, he was shot and killed, and his wife was wounded.
When Frank and Jack learned that their father had been killed, they committed a few more robberies, and then they disappeared. Local stories still tell that caches of money were hidden on some of the different farms that the Jennings gang used as hideouts.
Local research into old newspapers concerning the outlaw gang’s activities could pay off well for the inquisitive treasure hunter.
The John Swift silver mine legend is prevalent in western West Virginia. One location that bears checking out is between Crum and Dunlow in Wayne County.
For some strange reason Thomas Jefferson, later the third president of the United States hired two competent surveyors to map the area of what is now Wayne, Lincoln, and Mingo Counties, most of which was between the Tug Fork of Sandy River and the Guyandotte River in 1775. (It is known that Jefferson was highly interested in mineralogy.)
It is a strange coincidence that the surveyors, Peter Jefferson and Joshua Fry, gave the same map coordinates for the extreme southwestern corner of what is now Wayne County that Swift had given in his journal for the location of one of his silver mines–37 degrees and 56 minutes latitude and 83 degrees longitude. Swift had made the last trip to his mines only six years before Jefferson had this map drawn. Swift was from Alexandria, Virginia, and would have been about the same as Jefferson. Historians have asked, did Jefferson know John Swift?
Was Jefferson trying to locate these mines to obtain silver for himself or for the then-struggling colonies to become united against England in the War for Independence? It is a historical fact that the Continental Congress borrowed money from France. They also raised funds in any manner they could to finance the Revolutionary War.
There was a man named Peter Jefferson with John Swift when he mined silver. (Could this be the same Peter Jefferson that the future president, Thomas Jefferson, hired to help draw his map?) This seems to be too much of a coincidence to overlook by anyone interested in searching for the legendary silver mines of John Swift. This map can be copied from the Library of Congress, Washington, D. C. 20540.
According to a journal left by John Swift, he and another mined silver in large quantities in what was then (1761-69) western Virginia. Because of Indian transportation problems and the mines being too far from any white settlements, Swift and his party closed them.
They intended to obtain help from England to mine the silver on a large scale. The Revolutionary War intervened before this could be done. Swift was imprisoned in England, and the rest of the party were scattered, some killed by Indians, others during the war.
They were never able to get together again.
Swift tried to relocate his mines after he returned from prison in England, but due to blindness and age, he was never able to do so. Legend says he died in 1800.
The older man was dying, and he knew it. He motioned to the doctor to come nearer. Running his tongue over his dry lips, he began to speak in a barely audible, rasping voice.
“Thousands of dollars in coins hidden in four chests,” he whispered, “In the Big Ugly River, West Virginia. Go up the Big Ugly until you come to the branch at Laurel Fork. One mile up the branch is a great big rock. Right across from the rock are the chests in the creek.”
The older man’s voice trailed off. The doctor looked at his patient in wonder and doubt, but the gray head just gave a weak nod indicating that the words were true. Then a slight smile crossed the older man’s face, and he closed his eyes forever.
This episode took place in 1933 in Cleveland, Ohio. According to the doctor, these words were the last spoken by the older man before he died following a severe heart attack. Several close friends listened skeptically to this tale until the doctor closed his office, packed up his equipment and provisions, and took off for the West Virginia hills. When he finally returned, all he had to show for his trouble were a lot of bug bites, bramble scratches, and aching feet.
However, after his death, an intimate friend revealed that the doctor’s widow had once let him see her husband’s map of the treasure area with instructions on how to reach the site written on it.
The instructions reportedly read, “Go along the hard road until you reach Fry, a small community between Logan and Huntington, West Virginia, on Highway 10.
Go toward the settlement of Leet, across the mountain Fry. At Leet, Laurel Fork Creek empties into the Big Ugly River. Go up Laurel Fork for a mile or two until you reach a large rock. Directly across the road from the rock, in a small creek bend, are chests of coins. Dig along banks.”
After his death, the older man in the story was identified as Moishe Edelman, a peddler. Although the insurance company that carried his small life insurance policy searched for his relatives in vain, their unsuccessful search uncovered an interesting story.
Edelman was a Russian Jew who had emigrated to the United States. How or when Edelman got his start as a rural backwoods peddler is not known. But during World War I, the “Roaring Twenties,” and the Depression-ridden days of the 1930s, he followed this occupation in West Virginia, traveling through the hills of Logan County and Lincoln County.
Short, stocky, and tough, he shunned all forms of transportation, preferring to make his rounds on foot. He carried his unwieldy wares in backpacks and smaller notions in his pockets. All around his thickening waist, he hung an array of cooking pots and baking pans that clanged together and knocked against him as he strode along.
Thrifty and frugal by nature, Edelman’s savings began to accumulate. As he grew older, he finally gave in and bought a small car, but that was about all. When making his rounds, he usually managed to get hill country families to put him up for the night. At other times, he lived in a cheap hotel room in the city.
Finally, people began to wonder what he did with his money. Many thought he was burying it somewhere because of his distrust of banks. The fact that whenever possible, he had all his bills changed into coins seemed to bear out this belief.
One day in 1933, Edelman went to Ohio to purchase a large amount of merchandise from a Cleveland wholesaler. While there, he suffered a fatal heart attack.
As for the treasure, all that is known about its value is what Edelman said: “Thousands of dollars in coins hidden in four chests.”
Although searchers from West Virginia and Ohio have looked for the old peddler’s fortune, no one has reported finding it.
Ike Colter lived with his uncle, Ed Colter, on a small farm near the head of Laurel Run. The mouth of Laurel Run is about opposite the small town of Denmark. One day Ed. Colter came in from plowing and was shot in the back just as he hung up a bridle on the barn door. Ike was accused of the murder, but it could not be proved.
Both Ike and Ed did not believe in banks and were known to have money stashed away. As a small boy, Dewey Purr (now deceased) went to the Colter house, and Ike asked him to get a mattock. When Dewey brought it to him, Ike said, “Your eyes would pop out if you knew how much gold this mattock has buried.”
Today the old house is gone, but the bricks from the chimney can still be found in the corner of an open field used as a “Primitive Camping Ground” for the Watoga State Park.
During the 1920s, a railroad logging grade was constructed up the right-hand side of Tea Creek. Gold was discovered in the rock at a large cut. The ore was assayed, but it was not profitable to mine.
At about the same time, traces of gold were found near the head of Stoney Creek, which assayed out at $7.00 a ton. With the price of gold today, it would pay to check this out.
The gold rush of 1927 in West Virginia was a short-lived one. Gold was found in quartz in Sissaboo Hollow, near Porterwood in Ritchie County. The ore was plentiful but low grade. It could be worthwhile to check this location further.
This story of a lost Union Army payroll or shipment of gold and silver of an undetermined amount near Buckhannon, West Virginia, is taken from several interviews with a 94-year-old former deputy sheriff named Daniel Bush in 1958. Mr. Bush lived in Breathitt County, and his father, William, a Confederate veteran, had told him of the hidden money many times.
Here is the way Daniel Bush’s father told the story to him:
“Son, lemme tell you about something that happened to me during the war. We’ve had been fighting for about two years. We weren’t, but about 80 of us left what had started out together in ’61. We were traveling northeast from Kentucky to join up with General Lee in Virginia. We heard he was heading north and needed all the men he could get, leastways that’s what we were told by the two officers what we had left. After crossing the Tug Fork (of the Big Sandy River) into Virginny (now West Virginia), we rid for a spell, keeping in the woods. We finally climbed out of the timber through a gap somewhere on the Buckhannon River in Virginia. I heard that it was called West Virginny.
Some of them folks were for the Union, and the Yankees had made them a new state. We were following the river northeast of a place called Buckhannon, wasn’t much of a road along there, hardly big enough for a wagon. Course, we weren’t expecting to run into no Yankee wagon or patrol on the road like that. Hit shore took us by surprise when we rid into that low stretch of bottom land, and there they were. Musta been 20 or 30 Yankee Calvary soldiers all spread out around one big wagon close to a lot of big rocks. I expect their scouts had already seen us ’cause they were ready and waiting. Young feller, we had for the captain wasn’t asked of nothing, but he hadn’t been fighting long as some of us had.
The first thing he wanted to do was charge the wagon; it seemed like just the sight of Yankees drove him plumb crazy. Some of us old fellers talked him out of charging right then cause we could see right off this wasn’t any regular patrol. They were guarding something that they didn’t aim to lose or let us know about. After talking it over, we decided to see often they would surrender since we outnumbered them and could surround them. Captain Moore went in under a white flag to talk to the Yankee major who was in charge. It seemed their wagon had broken down, which was why they warn’t moving. They didn’t want to talk or let us get close. The Yankee major told our captain not to start any fighting, or he would be sorry.
The Captain came back to where he was, madder than a hornet, “We’re going to take that wagon, them Yankees is acting suspicious, and they’re too anxious to keep us away to suit me, he said. We got all the men together, and when we were ready, we charged that wagon from all sides. Sure was a lot of noise and shooting in that little valley. We must outnumber the Yankees three to one, but they had new rifle guns that shot several times without reloading. We weren’t expecting that. They cut us to pieces. I never knew the Yankees to fight like that. After trying three times to take the wagon, we decided to quit. They weren’t, but about 25 of us left. We never know how many Yankees we kill. Captain Moore and Lieutenant Ferguson were dead, and some of our other men were shot up pretty bad.
The ones of us that were left just sort of drifted on the east, them what could. We didn’t even take time to bury our dead. Warn’t no use trying to join up with General Lee then wasn’t enough of us to count. I wondered a heap about that fight and what was in that wagon, but I never knew until years later. I ran into a feller what I had known the war afore. We were talking about the war and what we’d done in a hit when this feller, Bill Taylor was his name, started telling about a wagon he and his outfit had on the Buckhannon River in Virginny back in ’63 when they kilt a whole Yankee patrol. He told me they were several hundred of his bunch raiding all over Virginny. When Taylor commenced talking, I knew right then it was the same Yankees we had a fit. His outfit had come up a little while after we had left. I shore while we’d know them. Rebs were that close.
I reckon them Yankees were still licking their wounds after fighting us, or maybe they were going to get the money Taylor told me about. Anyway, they hadn’t fixed or left the wagon, and they sure weren’t expecting to fight anymore that day. When Taylor and his bunch come upon that wagon and seed all them dead Rebels, they go plumb crazy. They killed every Yankee left in that patrol. Taylor told me that his men didn’t know that any of us had gotten away. The hit wasn’t until after the fight was over, when Taylor and the others were looking around and searching the wagon, that they found out what had been in the hit. Son, that wagon had a false bottom and had been carrying hundreds of dollars in money. Gold and silver money! But the Yankees had hidden it afore they started fighting us.
Some papers, orders, and such, were found on the dead major telling what had been in the wagon. They were trying to get the money east to some Yankee headquarters. I’m Taylor, and his bunch had known about the money afore they kilt all them Yankees; they’d taken prisoners and made them tell where the hit was hidden. Taylor told me they looked around some but never found anything, except several empty money boxes hidden in the bushes and somewhat thrown in the creek close to the wagon. Son, somewhere close around where the two fights took place is a heap of Yankee gold and silver money. No wonder they were fighting so hard to keep us from finding out where they had hidden it. My guess is that they knew my outfit was lost and hid the money after the wagon had broken down, then waited for us to show up.
They must put all that money in one hole or a cave is how Taylor’s outfit found empty money boxes. The hit would have been a lot less digging, and they were in a hurry with us that day. They figured that with the new rifle guns they had, they could whup us easily, which they did. They had no idea Taylor and his gang would show up and force them to fight twice. Most of Taylor’s bunch was killed at Gettysburg. The way things were after we lost the war, it’s for sure none of them that was left ever looked for the money since they didn’t know where it was hidden anyway. Taylor was crippled up pretty bad and told me he couldn’t look for it. He died in 1898. “I’ve been meaning to go back and look for years but just never seemed to get around to doing it.”
No record of this lost Union gold ever being recovered has been learned.
In the late 1800s, a man named Alex Ryder lived at Timel and had a cabin on the nearby mountain. Ryder was known to have saved several hundred dollars worth of gold coins. One day, although he was sick, he got up, mounted his horse, and rode up the nearby Two Sick Run Creek to his cabin with a bag of his gold.
When we returned, the gold was not with him, and everyone assumed he had buried it in Two Sick Run Creek. Others claimed that he hid it near his cabin on the mountain. The cabin site is in a pasture in Pocahontas County, at State Routes #39 and #92.
The following is a partial listing of metal detector sites in West Virginia.
Barbour County – The first land battle of the Civil War was near Philippi, on June 3, 1861, with some casualties. Both armies used an old covered bridge still standing; the bridge is no longer in use. Confederate forces were driven from the area.
A fortified camp for Confederate soldiers, Camp Laurel Hill, was on the Beverly-Fairmont Pike, about two miles east of where it met U.S. 250. Confederates were here from June 16 until July 12, 1861. Several sharp skirmishes were fought between July 7 and 11, and the Confederates were forced to pull out of the area.
On top of Laurel Mountain, near Valley Furnace, Indian bones have been found. At one time, the skulls (no one ever counted them) were piled up in a heap like pumpkins. A large Indian village once stood here. About one mile east of Falley Furnace is where a water mill stood in the 1840s. This old mill ran twenty-four hours daily to keep the settlers supplied with corn.
Only traces of the old mill race are visible today.
Berkley County – Two miles north of Martinsburg, on the Opequon River, is where Fort Neally, an early pioneer fort, stood. On September 17, 1756, Indians attacked the fort, killing the entire garrison and many settlers. Several of the settlers were killed.
Outside Martinsburg is the dilapidated building known as Red House, the first county courthouse. The first court session was held there sometime in 1772. The building was used for several years for county meetings.
Fort Evans, built in 1755, and used for several years during the Indian troubles, stood a short distance from where Martinsburg is today. During the Civil War, both armies camped nearby.
Boone County – The town of South Peytona is located on top of an Indian camping ground. Several graves have been found in the area, dating back to around 1400 A.D.
Seth and Racine are near ghost towns today.
A skirmish between the Confederate and Union armies occurred at the Boone County House on September 1, 1861.
Braxton County – In 1874, iron ore was discovered near Strange Creek. A hotel, several taverns, and stores all sprang up. After about five years the ore gave out, and the town began to die. The hotel closed, the taverns shut down, and the people moved away, leaving a ghost town.
Near Groves Creek stand the ruins of Groves Mill, which closed in 1922 after serving the area for many years.
Check out Sutton for Falls Mill, which had a mill from 1840 until 1925, and Bulltown, which once had several salt furnaces. Today, they are ghost towns.
Brooke County – Rice’s Fort was built near where Bethany is today during the 1770s. There were four blockhouses and several cabins within the stockade. Twelve families obtained protection there for several years.
South of Wellsburg is where Beech Bottom Fort stood, built in 1775 and used during the Revolutionary War. Indian mounds have been found nearby.
Cabell County – The most extensive evidence of the Mound Builders in this area is found in Green Bottom. The traces of a regular city with streets running parallel to the Ohio River area are still being discovered. Copper saws, iron axes, and silver and gold ornaments have been plowed up.
This county has several ghost towns: One, Salt Rock, and Lesage.
Calhoun County – The small village of Arnoldsburg was once the county seat and began a building to be used as the courthouse. However, Grantville was selected as the permanent county seat, leaving Arnoldsburg with a foundation that cost $15,000, and the town slowly died. The county clerk at Grantsville has information on the locations of Chloe and Brookville, near ghost towns.
Clay County – Four ghost towns that can be found by contacting the county clerk at Clay are Bickmore, Bentree, Lismore, and Hartland.
Fayette County – Near Ansted is the Half-Way house, once a stop of the Kanawha Turnpike, lasting from before the Revolutionary War until after the Civil War. It was a popular stopping place for travelers.
Drennen, Lockwood, Paxton, and Thurmond, are all near ghost or ghost towns today. The clerk at Fayetteville can help with the locations.
Gilmer County – The county clerk at Glenville can help you locate Normantown, Lockney, Stumptown, DeKalb, and Loopolis, all ghost towns today.
Grant County – Petersburg is where Fort George was built around 1754. During the Civil War, in 1863 and 1864, Federal troops erected trenches in the area, and two skirmishes occurred, one on December 7, 1861, and one on January 8, 1864.
George Washington built several forts in 1775 to be used during Indian attacks. One was built just outside Gormanin, called Fort Ogden.
Greenbrier County – For over 80 years, a fair has been held at the Greenbrier Valley Fairground, attracting as many as 100,000 people in a single year. It would be worth checking.
Several Civil War clashes occurred within this county, one at Alvon, one near Meadow Bluff, and one near White Sulphur Springs.
Little is left today of the village of Frankford, which was a thriving trading center at one time.
Hampshire County – Has several Civil War battle sites and some early fort locations. Civil War battles occurred near Green Springs, Romney, Blue’s Gap, and Springfield. Colonial forts were located at Fort Capon, Fort Cox, Fort Furman, Fort Williams, Fort Edwards, and Fort Pearsall. All would be metal detector sites.
Hancock County – The first iron furnace west of the Allegany was at Kings Creek, built-in 1794.
Hardy County: Near ghost towns are McConkey, Needmore, and Baker.
Harrison County – Forts Harbert and Jackson were built during the 1770s to protect the settlers against Indians.
Jefferson County – The first State Fair was held in 1766 at Mecklenburg (now known as Shepherdstown). This would be worth checking out.
Kanawha – Several forts were built during the 1770s to protect the settlers, plus there are several ghost towns or near ghost towns worth checking into.
This is only a partial list. You can learn more by talking to historical societies and looking at old records.