Many events occurring in the U.S. over the past few years would seem to suggest the American Civil War is still going on. Two people who would agree with that, albeit for an entirely different reason, are Dennis and Kem Parada – a father-son treasure hunting team who believed they found a huge cache of lost Civil War gold bars in Pennsylvania … only to have the FBI push them out of the way, excavate them and stash them away in another secret location. Like the Civil War, this battle is now headed for Washington DC, where the Paradas are marching to fight the Justice Department. Will this end there … or must they continue their march like Sherman to Georgia?
Why are the Paradas and the FBI so interested in this lost gold?
Probably because there’s a LOT of gold bars in the wagon that was making a secret delivery in June of 1863 from Wheeling, West Virginia, to Pennsylvania to pay Union troops stationed there. An unknown number of gold bars (anywhere from 26 bars to 9 ton of them) painted black and hidden in the wagon – estimated to be worth up to $250 million today – disappeared after a stop in St. Mary’s, PA. Some say the heavy cargo caused it to sink in a river, other think it was hijacked by insiders. The Army sent Pinkerton detectives disguised as prospectors and lumbermen but they found nothing. There were plenty of rumors, but the gold bar defied finding.
In 1975, Finders Keepers USA, founded by Dennis Parada, claimed they heard about the gold from a ‘mysterious stranger’ who gave them a map. In November 2004, they claimed to have found a fire pit in Dents Run where human skeletons were allegedly discovered in 1876, and used a metal detector which picked up the presence of a large amount of metal about eight feet deep. Unfortunately, they couldn’t legally dig it up because the site is in a state park.
“There’s been a pattern of behavior by the FBI that’s been very troubling.”
The Paradas were in a bind. The gold came from the US Mint and was on Pennsylvania state property, but they were the only ones who knew where. Somehow, the FBI found out about it and excavated the site at Dents Run in 2018. The Paradas were there but were not allowed to observe the dig nor were they ever told if anything was found. In 2021, they were finally able to obtain the warrant, but it didn’t say what the FBI was looking for, and no one would say if they found it. However, after an appeal was sent to the Justice Department, Yahoo! News reports the FBI suddenly remembered “2,400 pages of records and 17 video files that it could potentially turn over — but that it would take years to do so.”
This week, Finders Keepers marched to Washington DC – not with guns but with a lawsuit demanding the Justice Department expedite the turnover of documents from the FBI. If the documents show the FBI found the gold, do the Paradas have any claim to it … as their Finders Keepers name suggests? Probably not, since it came from the US Mint. The state of Pennsylvania could make a case that it belonged to state citizens fighting the war, the FBI might take a cue from the Paradas and say “Diggers keepers.”
The Paradas are undoubtedly hoping they can at least be proven right … that they were the first to find the location of the lost gold. They might also be interested in resolving how the shipment disappeared in the first place, and solving the biggest mystery of all – how did what was first said to be 26 bars of gold suddenly become 9 tons? And why?
The Civil War rages on.