Search for real loot in this real-life Lancaster County treasure hunt


LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — Treasure hunting isn’t just for pirates and movie characters anymore. Uncharted Lancaster and the Historic Preservation Trust of Lancaster County have partnered up to put together a real-life treasure hunt around the county.

At the end of the six-week-long hunt, one sleuthing participant will go home with $1,000 in one-dollar coins as well as an original painting by local artist Scott Cantrell, explains Adam Zurn, the founder of Uncharted Lancaster and a board member of the Historic Preservation Trust.

The search begins on March 20. To participate, treasure hunters must first become members of the Historic Preservation Trust. Participants will then receive a decoder paper with a poem and blank spaces for GPS coordinates. For six weeks beginning on March 20, Zurn will release one location and clue per week on the Uncharted Lancaster and Historic Preservation Trust websites.

The locations will be historic or architecturally significant buildings around Lancaster County, where individuals will use the clues to figure out the coordinates of the final treasure. “Some [locations] have got some pretty difficult challenges, and some will be a little easier, and some are going to require not wearing your flip-flops to figure out the clues in the spot,” Zurn warns.

The coordinates will get competitors close to the location of the treasure, but they’ll have to use the poem in conjunction with local artist Scott Cantrell’s painting to find its exact hiding place. The treasure hunt is “winner-take-all,” says Zurn, so while contenders can take some time uncovering the first several clues, the last day will be a race to the finish.

This painting by Scott Cantrell serves as a clue in the treasure hunt.

(And just to make sure that participants don’t simply stumble upon the treasure by chance, the coins won’t be in the cache when it’s found. The successful treasure seeker will contact the Historic Preservation Trust to collect the prize.)

“What we’re hoping to do here at the Trust is just get people out and visit really neat places and visit these architecturally significant locations,” says Zurn. He hopes the activity will offer COVID-19-safe, family-friendly fun for people of all ages while also showcasing some of the history of Lancaster County.

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