On the Spring Equinox, 2019, the public, armed with maps of my manufacture, found two buried treasures in Dead Man’s Hollow.
A forty foot snake, a quarry, a few murders and shootouts, a brick manufactury, buried treasure, a clay pipe factory, a deadly fire.
Dead Man’s Hollow, a few miles upriver from Pittsburgh & Mckeesport, has seen seven generations of strange happenings.
Rumor is, the place is haunted by a half dozen ghosts. It’s told that a crazed old billionaire, HP Witherspoon, had his treasures buried there in the late 20th century. Local lore is that the bluff above the old boiler building played host to satanic, wiccan, and anarchist teen-meetings from the Led Zepplin era through to No Doubt.
In 2019, this treasure map was produced from the research fragments City of Play was able to recover from the burned archive where they had stockpiled that knowledge. The archivist left town years ago. We have shored these fragments against our ruin, and they are presented here, in a limited run of 50 treasure maps, from which we have just 15 left.
Two treasures - the box buried by HP Witherspoon’s crew, as well as the blade of a snake, were recovered using this very map, in March of 2019. Its poetry, illustrations, site diagrams, local lore, and curious symbology led the public right to these secreted objects!
Who knows what other treasures it may reveal, in the hollow of Dead Men…
Perhaps you yourself could possess this knowledge, this map.
Dead Man’s Hollow is a public open space about fifteen miles south of Pittsburgh, just off the Youghiogheny River (“The Yough”, pronounced like ‘rock’), which itself is a major tributary of the Monongahela river. The hollow was once a clay quarry, then a brick manufacturing company, and then the Union Sewer Company, which manufactured large clay pipes for storm and sewer drainage systems.
The Hollow is managed by the Allegheny Land Trust, a non-profit which stewards dozens of open spaces in Allegheny County. City of Play and the Trust worked together to figure out the logistics of the treasure hunt. The trust provided me with notes, archival materials, and reports about the Hollow, its history, and its lore.
I’ve done my own exploration of the area in years past, and during the planning process, I visited the site two or three more times. Once we had located a site for treasure excavation, we spread out and looked for clues in the landscape, which might direct the public towards the treasure.
The map I created represents, in the snippets of text and image it presents, a synthesis of these clues: the history and myth of the land, information about the flora and fauna of the Hollow, and the details of HP Witherspoon’s interaction with the Hollow.
Its success is in its use - the map worked! After a few hours of puzzling and digging, members of the public located the treasure, and subsequently unburied it!