When people think of lost treasure, sunken ships off the Florida Coast come to mind. People also think of lost gold minds in the western United States. New York State has a few legends of lost treasure. Here are a few legends from the western region of New York State. Some of these lost treasures are handed down in oral tradition.
Legends of Lost Treasure in Chautauqua County, New York
Little known lost treasure places in the Western region of New York State. Mostly taken from oral history.
Lost Treasure in New York State
Many areas in the United States have legends of lost treasure, Chautauqua County in New York is one of them. Two of the lost treasures are located near Lake Erie.
The first legend of lost treasure was passed down by word of mouth. Lost gold is supposed to be located near the mouth of Chautauqua Creek near Barcelona, NY.
British ships carrying gold were attacked by the French on Lake Erie near Dunkirk, NY. Some of the ships sunk in the battle. Two ships escaped. One of the ships acted as a decoy to throw off the French. This ship did not carry gold. The French chased the decoy ship and captured it. The other ship was carrying gold, it sailed to Barcelona near the mouth of Chautauqua Creek. The gold was loaded into row boats and taken upstream and hidden in a cave. The sailors were captured by the French later. They were tortured by the French and they revealed the location of the gold. The French searched for the cave but could not find it. The gold remains lost to this day. The cave is said to be visible on the east side of the creek during winter. People have tried to dig into this cave but have never found gold.
The second legend of gold concerns French military payrolls. This legend is mainly passed down orally. The legend was mentioned by Lottie Raynor in an article posted in the Jamestown Journal December 17, 1921. One half mile north of where Button's Inn stood near Mayville is a lost cave. The legend states that three French Soldiers were attacked by Indians while traveling the Portage Trail. They hid in the mouth of a cave. They had to unsaddle and turn the horses loose as the cave was too small. The bridles, saddles and saddle bags of gold were hidden in the cave. The soldiers left. They returned to recover the gold, they could not remember where the cave was. It has been speculated that perhaps the soldiers were deserters and stole the gold.
There are also legends of lost loot from robberies. On April 5, 1919 five men robbed the State Bank in Randolph, Cattaraugus County. They took three safe deposit boxes from the vault. They drove off after a gun fight. They escaped into Chautauqua County and stopped at Conewango Creek near Waterboro. All of the men except the driver headed on foot further into the woods. The driver was captured a short time later. The other four men were captured later in the day. The police searched the area and recovered two safety deposit boxes. The safety deposit boxes contained $885 in cash, $1,876.80 in bank notes and $33,000 in securities. The third safety deposit box was never recovered. The contents were not disclosed, the bank stated the amount was worth considerable money. The police questioned the robbers. They said that they dropped the box in the woods somewhere between Waterboro and the area where they were captured. Perhaps someone found the box and never told anyone. There is hunting, snowmobiling and farms near the area. You would think someone would have come across an old safe deposit box sitting in the woods before now.
Also there are other legends of stolen loot in Panama Rocks. Panama rocks has caves, many crevices and mazes of rocks. Robbers used Panama rocks to hide their loot in the early 1800's and after. Much of the stolen loot was never recovered. Just prior to the Civil War, a band of robbers stole a large amount of gold coins. They escaped to Panama Rocks and hid the sacks of gold coins in many crevices. When they returned later to recover their loot, they could not find the exact locations of the crevices. One of the caves was used as a counterfeiting operation during the Civil War. The "real" money used to copy the fake money was hidden. Thousands of people every year transverse the caves, mazes and crevices of Panama Rocks. There has never been any reports of old money or gold coins found. Perhaps animals drug it off.
Are some of these legends true? Were some of these treasures found and never reported? Most people are not aware of these legends. I was not aware until I looked into the history books about 10 years ago. I do not have the times or means to look for these lost treasures. I hope someone will stumble onto them accidentally someday.