On Thursday, April 1, county officials announced that a long-forgotten Civil War-era Union Army facility has been unearthed beneath the foundation of the recently removed old Lewisburg farmhouse that served as the extension offices for the Greenbrier County Courthouse. While the newly exhumed facility is currently sealed; awaiting the arrival of federal investigators and archeological experts, it is believed to have been used for munitions storage.
In addition to the well-preserved, 160-year-old weaponry, and according to the United States Office of Archaeological Oddities, the facility is also thought to house gold originally intended to fund the battle of Camp Alleghany in December of 1861, as well as an aborted early Union invasion of the Confederate capitol in Richmond, Virginia. It is believed that approximately $122,000 worth of gold arrived at the facility on September 23, 1861, while the facility was under the command of French immigrant Captain Jean Luc Picard. Picard was the source of inspiration from which Gene Rodenberry drew when creating the now-famous “Star Trek” character.
The facility, now referred to as “Fort Lewisburg”, was abandoned on October 4, 1861, after a combination of the flooding of the Kanawha River on September 29, 1861 and “the Great Pumpkin Flood” of the Ohio River just two-days later, caused the water-level of the Greenbrier River to raise by nearly six-feet. As the fort was completely buried with mud and debris, it was believed lost with all assets.
In today’s money, the $122,000 is valued at just under $4 million. With the addition of the other assets believed to be preserved within the fort, including hundreds of pieces of historic weaponry, the value of the find is currently estimated at upwards of $10 million.
It is thus far unclear as to who the fort and assets belong to. The Commonwealth of Virginia may have a claim to the property, as does the federal government. However, under the terms of the “Historic Relic” subsection of the Found Property Act of 1931, it would appear that Greenbrier County is now the rightful owner.
The West Virginia Daily News will provide updates regarding the discovery of “Fort Lewisburg” as additional details are made available. However, as it is April Fool’s day, additional information may take as long as 12-months to be released.