Thursday, February 1, 2007

Chimney Rock Gold

You don’t have to go far to find stories of hidden treasure. Right here in Oscar, NC the legends live on. Had you talked to those students lined up in front of the Oscar schoolhouse, I’m sure they could have told you about the gold buried near Tilley Creek.

I hope the folklorists are earning their keep by cataloging the stories of buried treasure all through North Carolina and the Southern Appalachians. In his 1941 book, Western North Carolina Sketches, Clarence Griffin retells the tale of a lost fortune near Chimney Rock, specifically on Round Top Mountain.

A half dozen Englishmen, who owned a mine farther north, were on their way to the coast with a large load of gold. While traveling through Hickory Nut Gap they relaxed their vigilance and were ambushed by Indians. A battle ensued and the Englishmen, not faring well, sought shelter in a cave. To protect themselves, they built a stone wall at the mouth of the cave. It was of no avail as the Indians killed the entire party, with the exception of one Englishman who escaped into the night.

After an arduous week, the sole survivor reached the coast, boarded a ship and returned to his homeland. He intended to organize a party to return to the mountains and recover the gold hidden away inside the cave on Round Top. On the eve of his return, though, he lost his eyesight and had to dictate a map showing where the gold was hidden.

For whatever reason, the treasure hunters that came back from England were unsuccessful. In later years, General Collett Leventhorpe brought fifty of his slaves and spent two months searching, but went away empty handed.

One persistent claim held that the map dictated by the blind Englishman was on file at the Library of Congress. Responding to an inquiry in the 1930s, a library official acknowledged receiving numerous requests for a map to the cave "where gold is said to have been hidden by a party of Englishmen in the 18th century, but we have never located such a map."

And if they had located such a map, I think you might have seen that library official and his friends hiking up Round Top Mountain. As far as I know, the gold remains hidden away…on Round Top…and right here in Oscar.

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