Monday, May 6, 2013

Lost gold legends from the Civil War

By Ciara Gold
I'm so excited to have been invited to participate in this blog. Since this is my first post, I'll begin with a very short introduction. I write historical western romances but I also write fantasy, time-travels and sci-fi romances. Right now, I've been focusing most of my energy on my first love; historical westerns. Being a native Texan, there's just something comforting in the genre.
When I first started writing Texas Forged, my first thought was to have the hero and his half brothers be involved with a missing confederate gold shipment. Thus began my research into this possibility. I stumbled upon a story that would have been great to incorporate if I could have made the dates match up right. Alas, I abandoned the idea and went a different direction with my bad-boy hero.
However, the story is still interesting enough to make note of here about The Lost Legend of Keel Mountain. I don’t want to rewrite the story as it’s told so well at the link provided, but legends of this nature always provide fodder for story ideas.  Somewhere at the base of Keel Mountain in Alabama there could be hidden gold.
Unfortunately, the location didn’t work well with my story line so I continued to hunt for stories of lost gold and came across another interesting tale.  Supposedly there are buried gold ingots somewhere in the Elk-Cameron County area of Pennsylvania.  A very young lieutenant in the Union Army was given an important mission; to see to the delivery of a wagon load of gold bullion. He was given a wagon with a false bottom, an escort of 8 soldiers and orders to avoid the enemy as he travelled from Wheeling, West Virginia to Washington, DC.
File:Mountain road 5.jpg
Blue Knob (Pennsylvania)
Somehow in the course of trying to stay hidden from enemy eyes, he took the caravan through the very remote regions of Pennsylvania. In Ridgeway, their reception was rather hostile. Then they headed toward St. Mary’s. There, the lieutenant took ill. He’d been fighting bouts of fever throughout the journey but this time, his fever caused him to blurt out the purpose of his mission. Until this point, he was the only one in the group that knew of the gold. Their civilian guide took over as the lieutenant was too ill. They left St. Mary’s for Driftwood and that was the last anyone heard of the caravan until the guide showed up a month later with a fantastical tale of the loss of every man on the convoy and the loss of the cargo.
The guide was questioned extensively but the gold was never found. To this day, many believe $1,500,000 in gold still remains lost in the mountains of Pennsylvania.  Read the full story here.
Again, I couldn’t make the time frame for this story work with mine so I eventually made up my own tale of stolen loot.  As horrid as the Civil War was for both sides, it has given writers a wealth of intrigue to pull from. For those of us writing historical westerns around the 1870s, it's a great way to give our heroes and heroines a background rich in angst.
During the war, the hero in Texas Forged steals from his father, a man who won't claim the relationship. Years later, he still feels guilt for the crime. Eventually, circumstances force him to make things right and he goes in search of the buried loot only to come face to face with a past he'd rather forget.
Please enjoy an excerpt from Texas Forged:
“Care to explain this?”
Galin Walker took the rumpled, thirteen-year-old wanted poster and stared at an image that was both familiar and foreign.
“Looks just like you.” Deputy Nate Brisco rocked back and forth on his dusty boots. “Well, minus the scar on your forehead.”
Galin studied the drawing with an impassive face, but inside, volcanic heat rivaling the high temperatures in his forge threatened to consume his every breath. The likeness on the worn placard captured the stupidity and cocky confidence of youth. His hand shook ever so slightly when he handed the paper back to Nate. “You need a pair of those new-fangled eyeglasses the mercantile’s been advertisin’.”
The law official presented an imposing figure with his Colt strapped low on his hip and his brass badge polished to a shine. Galin swiped his forehead with a damp rag and waited for the man to pull out his cuffs.
“Found it wedged against the side of the new saloon. A few years old but…”
Was it Galin’s imagination, or had the smithy grown hotter? He tugged at the collar of his chambray shirt and licked the salty moisture from his lips. “But?”
Nate shook his head and tapped the thick paper. “Man on the poster has your last name. Know anything about him? Relative perhaps?”
He peered at the rumpled sheet, fear rushing through his veins like a river during a flood. “Lots of folks own that handle.” Why the hell was that document surfacing now?
“True.” Nate spit a wad of tobacco onto the dirt floor and used the toe of his worn boot to cover the evidence of his bad habit. “Didn’t I hear you say you were from Alabama?”
“Along with about a fourth of the town’s population, I reckon.” Would the law official buy that nonchalant bullshit?
“I sincerely doubt many Alabamians found their way here. In fact, I only know of one ornery cuss, and that’s you. Regardless, the face sure bears a resemblance to your ugly mug.”

The knot around Galin’s intestines tightened. “If you think I’m the person they’re lookin’ for, just arrest me and get it done with.” Maybe it was time to stop looking over his shoulder.



  1. Fun topic, Ciara! Lost gold, Civil War legends, handsome ex-soldier with a troubled past -- it makes for a very enticing story. Great excerpt!

  2. Welcome, Ciara. Gotta love those historical facts that drive us batty. Texas Forged was a wonderful story. I enjoyed it immensely!

  3. Ciara--I do appreciate the chatty manner you tell about a topic. Working in your novel is good--like others we have on here, this really works well. Me? I have not mastered it, but I'm working on it!
    And I like your banner.

  4. Great excerpt, Ciara. You're right, the 1870's are an opportunity to incorporate tales from the Civil War and I'm doing the same thing for the villain in my WIP. I loved your post writing-style, too. So glad you've joined us!

  5. Thanks all. I'm just really excited to be a part of this group. I went back through to look at past posts and that helped a lot in deciding what my first topic would cover.

  6. Welcome to Sweethearts of the West, Ciara. Okay, apart from the fact I love your name, I also enjoyed your post so much. I cannot wait to read your book. Is it out now? And where? ~ Ashley

  7. Thanks so much Ashley. I had a great time writing Texas Forged. It's available through Amazon. You can click the linked title of the book in the blog and it should take you there.

  8. Hi Ciara, So nice to meet you and welcome you to the blog. I hadn't heard about the lost gold, but can imagine there must have been hunters for the location of that much gold. I wonder if it was truly in the wagon???

  9. Hey Paisley, nice to meet you too. I found more today when I was looking. It's a two part story.


    Evidently, a man claims to have found the gold in Pennsylvania but he couldn't get to it because of gov. red tape. I couldn't find anything more recent than 2008, though.

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