Cumberland Times-News

March 18, 2014

The real treasure isn’t gold, but the National Road itself

To the Editor:
Cumberland Times-News

— (This letter was emailed to Braddock Road and Maryland National Road Preservation Assns., and local resident Steve Colby [“Local historian leading charge to preserve sections of National Road,” Aug. 4 Times-News, Page 1A].)

RE: Your editorial, Treasure: We, too, have our lost hoard of buried gold (March 6).

 Before getting metal detectors this spring, Braddock’s Gold (like Beale’s Treasure) is an interesting story...just not true. Cumberland historian, James Rada, Jr., recently wrote about this subject (Lost Treasure magazine, Aug. 2011).

 The first published article was A Buried Treasure, by Charles Gillis (Fairfax County, Va., Historical Society, Vol. 3, 1954).

In a 1982 essay, Phillips and Nygren pointed out numerous errors in Gillis’ narrative of Gen. Braddock’s expedition.

 In fact, there is no known British or American record of Braddock bringing any amount of gold or silver from England.

 Frostburg State University Prof. Harry Stegmaier Jr., posed, “Why would the British risk losing treasure on a dangerous ocean voyage?”

 Payroll? The army numbered less than 2,000 poorly paid regulars, who received pay in scrip.

 Supplies? These generally were requisitioned from the colonies for frontier defense.

 Bribe? French officers were honorable and wouldn’t risk their necks for so a paltry sum.

 Still, legends place Braddock’s buried gold everywhere between Alexandria, Va., and Braddock’s Grave in Pa.

 Our true local treasures are traces of Gen. Braddock’s 1750s Road, a later Colonial Road, and 1810s National Road.

 These have been found and documented, particularly along today’s Route 49, between Cumberland and LaVale.

 For reading: Braddock’s Road: Mapping the British Expedition..., Norman L. Baker (2013), and Steve Colby’s Facebook Campaign to Save the 1811 Cumberland Road....

 For info: (email and (email info@marylandnational

 Before it’s lost forever, local area historical groups should unite, prioritize, and promote preservation of our mutual heritage.

 Steven J. Herbaugh

Ridgeley, W.Va.