Stolen artifact from Pisgah Forest could cost thief up to $20,000

Updated: Jul. 30, 2020 at 6:10 PM EDT
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MORGANTON, N.C. (WBTV) - US Forest Service Investigators are trying to determine who took an old sawmill blade out of the Pisgah National Forest.

The blade had been along the Greentown Trail north of Morganton and was a landmark there for as long as anyone could remember.

Officials believe it was more than 100 years old and possibly used during early logging near Wilson Creek at the time.

“It’s part of our Southern Appalachian History and needs to stay there,” said Lisa Jennings of the US Forest Service.

It is a federal offense to remove artifacts that qualify as archeological objects from national forests.

Jennings said the penalty is “up to a $20,000 fine and a year in jail, so it is a big deal.”

A mountain biker reported the theft after seeing someone carrying what he thought was the sawblade.

Photos he took and passed on to investigators have been released.

Officials are hoping it will lead to the person who took the blade out of the forest.

They can’t say yet what will happen to whoever took it until they have a chance to talk with the person.

In any case, they want the blade back.

It won’t be returned to the forest but could wind up in a museum or the forest service’s historical collection.