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Pioneer Days, By Chalmers C. White, Pendleton Times, March 6, 1942
West Virginia has natural wonders to spare. Entering "North Fork’ valley of the South Branch of the Potomac river at Petersburg, the scenic highway runs southward through the Monongahela National Forest. On both sides are forests of evergreen and deciduous trees. Stream borders are carpeted with wild flowers and attractive shrubs.
The North Fork mountain on the left , for over twenty miles is crowned by an almost continuous rock formation, sculptured by nature into fantastic forms and appearing against the skyline like the ancient ruins of towers and cathedrals. Above them often float the white clouds and the birds of the mountains all of whose reflections are caught in the clear water of the river below.
Two rock formations along the highway stand out in such striking fashion as to command attention, even in this setting. The first of these is known as Champ Rocks, noted historically, but appreciated more for their grandeur of size and form. When visitors reach a point opposite these rocks they almost involuntarily come to a halt. A part of the time spent there is usually devoted to making photographic exposures. The impulse to gain a more intimate view by climbing the high cliffs is usually suppressed by a realization that such activity is reserved for those who have made special preparation for rough and adventurous going.
A few miles upstream from this point stands the object to which our special attention is directed--Seneca Rock. Rising to a height for over nine hundred feet, the vari-colored sandstone monument has been seamed and shaped by the forces of nature into crowning columns and minarets which catch the rays of the evening sun and send them back in mystic and over-powering beauty. The western face of the rock drops preciptiously to the river; but on the east the rough boulder-strewn terrain slopes more gradually to the rear of the summit. Efforts of anyone to scale the face of the cliff will likely end in failure; but the more discreet climber, by circling and taking advantage of the less direct approach, may be rewarded by the magnificent view with which he is greeted from the rocky summit.
It is not strange that the trails of the Red man ran this way and that they built a village in the shadow of the sheltering rock. The Senecas, a tribe of the Iroquois Confederacy, here joined their path to that of the Shawnees, to the south, and here gave their name to designate this massive work of nature and the creek which flows down the Allegheny Front to join the river.
High Rock, Corn and Weiner Roast, From: Pendleton Times, Aug. 28, 1942
High Rock Sunday School led by their Supt., who claims he can forecast the weather with minute accuracy and uncanny precision selected Saturday Aug. 15 for their annual corn and weiner roast.
It was an ideal night neither hot nor cold, but we give no credit nor credence to his prophecy--and attribute the unusual fine weather to the fact that the Lord Smiles on all religious social and civic gatherings. At any rate we stole a march on the weather man and put the program across in a big way.
Simultaneous with the close of the day and the setting of the evening shadows the members of the organization and the invited guests commenced to arrive.
High Rock Church has a beautiful setting located in a narrow gorge by the side of a beautiful Mt. Waddy and attractive waterfalls. It is walled in on either side by high and precipitous rocks and guarded day and night by the stately pine and lordly spruce. It is looked upon by its members as a sacred spot-- "yes holy ground," and on this spot a large crowd assembled to celebrate and have a social hour of fun and frolic.
The "A. Lincoln" of the clan fell to Blan Thompson and in a jiffy he had two gorgous bon fires crackling, sparkling and shooting great sharps of light toward the starry Heavens and crucifying every bug and gnat that crossed the horizon.
The wild Indian in the height of his glory never had a camp fire to match them. Presently the cool crisp mountain air is filled with the aroma of roasted corn, toasted wieners and marshmallows.
The fatigue from the games and much use of the vocal organs created a sharp appetite and we wade in on the goodies with as much zest and zeal as a pack of hungry Indians and while we laugh and joke and reminisce and think about all of those that have trod this selfsame soil and are now resting on the other side. We see them passing in review and then our hearts go out to those High Rock boys and girls that have roamed to other fields -- a distant clime and wish you too might join us in this our annual social and jubilee. Again we push back the curtain that hides memories past and we see lovers joyous and gay happy at play that have trekked this self same beaten path. I and on flashing on the screen snappy events funny incidents etc. but space and time forbid. In passing allow me to add it is social events of this type held on sacred and in a righteous manner far removed form the places and vices of sin that spells far better communities, better boys and girls and takes up the slack in the you of the land.
Mysterious Strangers Do Strange Things in Riverton, From Pendleton Times, Jan, 8, 1932.
For several months a party of three mysterious strangers with a Maryland license on their automobile have been noticed by the inhabitants of Riverton. On the week of Christmas the party was around the hills near Riverton and seemed to be avoiding the local people. Then on Sunday during the Christmas holidays they stopped for the day on the road that leads up Roots Run across the river from Riverton. They seemed to be working on the car. In fact they told one boy the car was broken down and that they had sent to Franklin for a mechanic.
That night while the people of Riverton were at preaching, the three strangers began to dig a place in the ground and by the time the service was over they were starting away. Some of the citizens went over to investigate and found the hole they had dug partially filled. Later in the night it seems the strangers came back and filled the hole and made a couple of marks as though someone had been buried.
Later an investigation showed that a hole had been started in the shape of a grave and that at the bottom of the hole, three feet down, it seemed that some round object like a stone jar had been removed.
Old residents declare that the spot, which is on Elmer Lambert's farm, was once covered by a very large flat, thin rock. This was beaten up as a part of the foundation of a nearby bridge.
Naturally such happenings set people to wondering and the prevailing theory is that they were fortune hunters. It reminds one of the tales of the pirates or gold holders of the Spanish Main.
Old residents declare that after the Civil War a large quantity of gold was stolen in Virginia and brought to this country; that later the two brothers who were supposed to be guilty were apprehended and a party went to arrest them, which resulted in a fight in which one of the brothers was killed. It happened to be the one who had hidden the hold the night before in a new place.
The other brother fled from the county and has not been seen since. Inasmuch as one of the three strangers who was in the party of last week appeared to be between ninety and a hundred years old, many people believe he was the brother who fled.
Naturally this is news of great interest. If the gold was hidden and found we hope that the truth may be discovered and some one found who will divulge the secret. The only clue to the strangers is the fact that the car had a Maryland license. Any further clues as to the identity of these strangers would be much appreciated.
Hidden Gold at Riverton, From Pendleton Times, Jan. 15, 1932
This is a reply to the article of last week in regard to the legend of the lost or hidden gold in the gap along Root's Run east of Riverton.
This legend is strong and I have heard it ever since I can remember and i heard it from different old people, some yet living--people who had heard it from older ones who were nearly grown when the incident took place.
The legend as I have heard it is this; During the War of 1812, twelve men came one evening, traveling from no one knew where and camped at or near where J.E. Lambert now lives. I do not know that there was any house then built there. The descendants of old John Justice Hinkle had scattered and built over most of the Germany Valley section and farther up Root's Run. Anyway, there were dwellings, and dwellers lived on the Stringtown Run where Claude Nelson now lives.
The twelve men camped for the night at the spring where the two runs fork, and they had with them a half-bushel camp pot or kettle, level full of gold coins, and they told the local people who saw them that they were getting away from the war and taking their gold so that it would not be taken from them.
The people supposed they were robbers or pirates; my guess would be the latter, for this was about the time when the American colonists got a navy strong enough to make the pirates along the Atlantic coast think about scattering. As these men stated, they divided up and carried the gold with them during the day, but being afraid to keep it with them during the night it was their custom for one of them to slip out from camp after dark and hide it away. At this they took turn about, one hid it one night, another one the next night.
On this particular night one of them shouldered up the kettle and went down Root's Run, which at that time was almost covered with timber and underbrush. I presume there was some kind of trail there at that time for it was the natural outlet for the settlers to go down to North Fork river.
This man disappeared and came back in a short time, and he alone knew where he had hidden the kettle full of gold, And now the sad part of the story comes in. Before the time to get the gold next morning this man was a corpse. Probably a row started and he got in the way of a long knife or stopped a slug from a flint-lock pistol.
When the remaining eleven men went out to get the gold, they were unable to find it. A month's search with the help of the settlers who lived in the section failed to disclose the hiding place, and finally the travelers had to abandon the search and left for parts unknown. So far as anyone knows this gold has been hidden there for 120 years, and is still there unless the three mysterious strangers mentioned last week who did the digging during Christmas week did really locate it with a divining rod, magic needle, or whatever dinkus is called that they locate buried treasure with. For my part, I did not see the hole that was dug by the strangers until it was so trampled up by people that I could not tell anything about it.
Now, if this legend about the gold was really true, according to my judgment the digging was done at a very favorable place, for the trail that was there 120 years ago was probably right where the road is today, for the reason that there is no other place for it to have been, this man, loaded down with 200 pounds or more of gold did not leave that path very far, or he would have had to up into the rocky bars along the cliffs on either side where the old settlers for many years did most of their hunting for the gold.
About 15 years ago, or about the time of the advent of the Model T Ford in this section, I was going through the gap one evening and saw three men wandering up and down through the rocks on the opposite side of the Run. One had some sort of dinkus in his hand,"sorter" carrying on like Calvin Ruddle does when he is witching for water. The men were strangers to me and had their old Ford parked down where the school house was then.
I also saw, last summer, a party of men in the gap who were probably on the same business. So it looks like the search has been carried on at intervals all down through the years. W.L. Warner.
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