From The State Magazine, August 31, 1963.
Printed with the permission of the publisher.
According to an ancient mountain legend supposedly based on facts, the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow lies hidden in the mountains of western North Carolina, where it has gathered dust in some musty cave for two hundred years or more. The object of dozens of treasure-hunting expeditions, its hiding place remains a mystery shrouded in the mists of history.
“Round Top,” the mountain directly opposite Chimney Rock, which forms one side of famous Hickory Nut Gap, is reportedly the resting place of the fabulous cache. Many have tried to locate it. Some have had maps showing its location – maps that were allegedly copies of one made by the only survivor of the party of Englishmen who buried the gold.
The original of that map lies today in the vaults of the Library of Congress. But the gold itself is buried in a cave on Round Top, where perhaps some day a lucky tourist exploring Hickory Nut Gap will accidentally stumble across a Cinderella fortune.
According to the legend, a group of five or six Englishmen who owned a gold mine farther north were on their way from the mine to the coast with a load of gold, packing it out on mules. They planned to return to their homeland with their fortune and live in luxury the rest of their lives. But when they reached Hickory Nut Gap, they were surprised by a party of Indians. The Englishmen sought shelter in a nearby cave, where they barricaded themselves behind a stone wall. In the ensuing battle, all the Englishmen were killed with the exception of one man, who escaped into the night. After a week of hardships he reached the coast, more dead than alive. Here he boarded a ship and returned to his homeland with the intention of organizing a party and returning for the gold. But before he could return to this country, fate took a hand in the game, and he lost his eyesight. He was forced to dictate as best he could a map showing the location of the treasure.
The expedition which set out to look for the gold, guided only by his map, was unsuccessful.
Since that time, over a period of two hundred years, adventurers have searched the North Carolina mountains with picks and shovels, with men and mules, but with no better luck.
The pot of gold lies still at the end of the rainbow, elusive as ever.