PENNSYLVANIA'S #1 WEEKLY NEWSPAPER • locally owned since 1854

From the Vault: News from the Wednesday, June 23, 1971, edition of the Press & Journal

Posted 6/26/19

After 52 years, box of treasures from caverns still a mystery

A box of “treasures” taken from Indian Echo Caverns re-mains as much a mystery today as it was when found 52 years ago.

The …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

From the Vault: News from the Wednesday, June 23, 1971, edition of the Press & Journal


After 52 years, box of treasures from caverns still a mystery

A box of “treasures” taken from Indian Echo Caverns re-mains as much a mystery today as it was when found 52 years ago.

The box was found in 1919 by Russel S. Zeiters of Hummelstown while exploring with four other youths what was then known as Echo Cave. Zeiters still lives here.

A 1919 article in the Harrisburg Telegraph observed that it may have been hidden by a “wanderer of the seven seas” who “delved deep into the uncanny Orient and knew full well the romance of the West,” coming “inland to Echo Cave to hide his pocket pieces, his jewels and his secret how to make diamonds.”

Zeiters retained the box and its contents for years as his own personal “treasure,” deciding recently that it should perhaps be shared with others.

Edward S. Swartz, proprietor of Indian Echo Caverns, recently purchased the chest and contents, which are now on display in the gift shop at the caverns.

Swartz had the items, including the chest, examined by State Museum experts, who verified the age of some of the coins; one of which is believed to have been minted about 480 B.C. and another with a date of 1298, undoubtedly from Assyrian lands.

Other coins came from Brazil, Egypt, Greece, Italy, the Argentine, England, Guatemala, France and Austria.

A small package labeled “diamonds in the rough” turned out to be more than a dozen moonstones. On the back of a gold-mounted cameo is engraved “My Mother.”

Other jewelry, a small bottle of aluminum paint powder and a faded list of the “treasurers” were also found in the box.

Perhaps a more plausible explanation of the origin of the “mystery box” is that it was possibly the private collection of someone who lived in the late 1800s and who had perhaps died without telling anyone about it.

Whoever he was, he considered himself an inventor. One of the strangest items is a small block, containing strange characters, which was found to be hollow. Removal of a carefully concealed plug produced a cylinder on which was written a lengthy description of how to make diamonds with the aid of lightning.

Charts and diagrams illustrate the method by which the might of a storm may be snared into making jewels presumably from moonstones.

The chest is made of wood that was produced around the turn of the century, and the nails are about 1880 vintage.

It is decorated with strange drawings, which at first appearance, would seem like those found in ancient caves. However, they cannot be associated with any known writings of the past.

Dominic DiFrancesco is new Legion commander

Dominic D. DiFrancesco is the new commander of Middletown American Legion Post 594.

Elected here earlier in the month, DiFrancesco is the first Korean veteran to hold the top position of the Middletown American Legion organization.

He will succeed Wellington “Bill” York.

Other members of Post 594 named to serve with the new post commander are: Donald Shupp, senior vice commander; Robert Hoch, junior vice commander; James L. Helsel, chaplain; Edward Golka, finance officer; Richard Markley, historian; Joseph F. Hogan, judge advocate; Elmer Eisenhour and Louis Souders, sergeants-at-arms; executive committee members Edwin Johnson, Elmer Eisenhour, Edwin McGovern and John M. Baumback delegates Francis Humble, Wellington York, Joseph Hogan., Samuel Naples, Dominic DiFrancesco, John Baumback, Elmer Eisenhour, James Hogan, Raymond Weaver and Paul H. Horetsky.

Installation ceremonies are planned in August.

Three Mile Island work slowed down by strikers

Construction progress on Met Ed's Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Stations remains affected despite the return of carpenters to work earlier this week.

A Met Ed representative at its Reading office told the Press & Journal, “We’re not commenting on the situation” and said it is up to United Engineers to report on the matter.

A spokesman for United Engineers reported workers in two crafts — operating engineers and cement finishers — remain on strike.

Although carpenters have signed a new contract and are gradually reporting to work, the spokesman added, “there’s a lot of work we can’t do because of the absence of engineers and cement workers.”

Carpenters, engineers and cement workers went out on strike May 1. Construction progress has been affected on the huge electrical generating complex where the first of two stations is scheduled to be completed in 1972. The spokesman told the P&J he wouldn’t venture a statement on how much the work stoppage has affected the construction schedule.

When United Engineers moved last week to impose an injunction, operating engineers removed picket lines Monday morning.

Three Mile Island, when functioning normally, employs almost 2,000 people.

Area merchants and proprietors of service establishments have noted a sharp cutback in business as a result of the strike.

Work stoppage has also affected construction of the nuclear plant at Peach Bottom, a $300 million project.

Hot buys

• Wheel Horse “800 Special” tractor, 8-horsepower Briggs & Stratton engine, electric start, with 42 optional attachments and 3-forward-speed transmission. $699. E.B. Smith Hardware, 22 E. Main St., Hummelstown.

• Thrifty Beverage at Olmsted Plaza is the Harrisburg area’s first self-service beverage supermarket. Imports include Alt Seidebrau, Bass Ale, Beck’s, Ceres, Dortmunder, Friesenbrau, Guiness Stout, Harp, Heineken, Lowenbrau, Peroni, Ringes and Sapparo.

• Hoover spin-drying washer, $149. Hoover steam-and-dry iron, $5. Hoover upright cleaner, $59.75. John’s True Value, 40 E. Emaus St., Middletown.

Other headlines

• 526 awarded degrees at Capitol Campus

• Two Londonderry fires under investigation

• Rev. Roach gets Ebenezer pastorship