(9 Oct 2018) A father-son pair of treasure hunters are challenging the FBI’s position that nothing was found during an excavation aimed at uncovering a fabled cache of Civil War-era gold earlier this year.
Dennis and Kem Parada say they believe dozens of gold bars might have been buried in the woods near Dents Run, about 135 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, around the time of the Battle of Gettysburg.
Last March, the treasure hunters led the FBI to the mountainous, heavily wooded area to dig for the gold, after which the FBI says it came up empty.
But the Paradas say they had shown agents back in January how their sophisticated metal detector lit up like crazy when aimed at the spot where they believed the gold was hidden.
Within a month, they say, the FBI had hired an outside firm to conduct an underground scan using a device called a gravimeter. The scan had identified a large metallic mass with the density of gold, they say.
Per an agreement with the agents, the FBI was to let the men watch the excavation but officers, instead, confined them to their car _ out of sight of the wooded hillside where a backhoe was digging _ for six hours that first day before they were finally allowed up the hill. The digging proceeded for another hour before an agent called an abrupt halt at 3 p.m., saying the team was cold, tired and hungry and it would be getting dark soon. They were just 3 feet from the target, according to the Paradas.
The second day of the excavation was similar to the first and they were once again confined to their car for hours and soon escorted up the hill to the dig site _ by then a large, empty hole. The FBI had finished the excavation without of their presence.
“We were embarrassed,” Dennis Parada told The Associated Press in his first interview since the well-publicized dig last winter.
“They walk us in, and they make us look like dummies. Like we messed up,” Paradas added.
The Paradas, backed by neighbors’ accounts of late-night excavation and FBI convoys, contend the FBI isn’t telling the whole story and are pressing the bureau to release secret records on the dig.
Federal investigators insisted a few days after leaving the site that the search came up empty, adding cryptically that its work there was related to an “ongoing investigation” and declining further comment to the Associated Press.
The dispute between the Paradas and the FBI is the latest chapter in a mystery that has persisted for more than a century and a half. As the story goes, around the time of the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, the Union Army sent a shipment of gold from Wheeling, West Virginia, to Philadelphia.
The wagon train took a circuitous route through the wilds of northern Pennsylvania so as to avoid Confederate troops. Along the way, the gold was either lost or stolen.
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