The Lost Treasure Of John Reaville
In Clinton County, very near where Elk Country meets the I-80 Frontier in the Pennsylvania Wilds, there’s a spot in the forest. It involves old ruins, history, and even a lost treasure. It’s now a part of Sproul State Forest, but once it was a busy mining town, and it was called Revelton.
The easiest way to get there, in all honesty, is to parachute in. If that is somehow out of your price range, then drive to Beech Creek, and just before the border of Clinton and Centre Counties, turn right onto the Monument-Orviston Road. Take that to Sand Spring Road, where it becomes more of a dirt path, and then follow Sand Spring Road as far as it goes. It will end in a T, and the left fork is Revelton Road.
This is an excellent place to get out of the car and hike. I would hesitate to drive down Revelton Road without a serious four-wheel drive. (Or maybe a tank.) But the hike is worth it; follow Revelton Road a couple of miles until you get to a right turn, and then hike down that.
You’ll go through a somewhat dark, spooky grotto of trees, and then discover the Revelton Iron Furnace, one of two iron furnaces left in the county. Approaching the Revelton Iron Furnace is very much like something from an Indiana Jones movie.
This was once the site of Revelton, an important coal mining town surrounded by other towns: Eagleton, Rock Cabin, and Peacock. All of them under the command of John Reaville.
Reaville came from England in the mid-1800s, and fell in with a coal mining company. They had a property problem, and they hired Reaville to protect one of their mines from claim jumpers. Reaville accomplished this by living in the mine for eight months, with people bringing him food and supplies. As a reward for this stunt, the company placed him in charge of their new mining towns in the Tangascootac Creek area of Clinton County, even naming one after him, albeit misspelling it a bit.
The land has now been reclaimed by forests, but when you hike out there, you can see the foundations and remains of what existed. Once upon a time, there were stores, homes, and schools, now visible only as foundations. And there was the iron furnace which, again, is awesome.
John Reaville was known as a tough, unstoppable guy, in spite of the fact that he was about the same height as my desk. He would play pranks on people, inviting them over and then placing a stuffed wild animal on his porch to scare them. Reaville also had the dubious honor of handling Pennsylvania’s first coal mine strike, which happened in Eagleton in 1865.
Reaville died in 1876, and is buried in Highland Cemetery in Lock Haven. When his wife died a year later, she was delirious in the hospital, and raved about money being buried in the basement of Reaville’s mansion. Reaville was said to have saved up money and buried it in bags in the basement. It’s never turned up, making it one of the lost treasures of the PA Wilds.
People have searched for it, but it’s never been found as far as any records show. A metal detector might not be much good, as it’s dubious how much metal is actually involved here. And good luck figuring out which foundation was John Reaville’s mansion, as they all look the same and there are no maps of Revelton showing which building was which.
Still, far be it from me to discourage any aspiring treasure hunters. The GPS coordinates for Revelton are N 41° 08.378 W 077° 37.804, if that helps any. It’s worth going out there. With the challenging hike and the fascinating ruins, a trip to Revelton is worth it….Treasure or not.
More From Our Blog