Buried Treasures in North America Introduction

About buried treasure in North America, history and information of the hidden treasures.


The idea of finding buried treasure-there is reputedly $4 billion worth in the U.S.-has all the lure of unearthing the nearly forgotten, of striking it rich, of beating the odds, of discovering the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

To increase the chances of success, you should begin the search indoors-with research. Books on treasure hunting provide leads on how to look for information, but naturally they don't reveal specific secrets. After zeroing in on a locality or treasure, you will find that your best sources are historical societies, newspaper files, public libraries, and the U.S. Geological Survey maps. Magazines devoted to treasure hunting can also prove helpful.

Once you've decided what you're looking for-and where-you will very likely need a metal detector. There are over 100 manufacturers of metal detectors in the U.S.; some are fly-by-night companies while others are old and established. Detectors range in price from $20 to $1,000 (less if you build them from a kit), but it is probably best to spend at least $150 on one. There are two basic kinds-the "shallow-seeking," which locates metal at depths of less than 6 ft., and the "deep-seeking," which is used for metal buried below 6 ft. The shallow-seeking type is usually the more useful. If you live in the West, where the soil is mineral-rich, it is probably best to buy a beat-frequency shallow-seeking detector, because it is not too sensitive and therefore not likely to involve you in fruitless digging. The transmitter-receiver shallow-seeking detector is more versatile. Whatever kind you buy, make sure that it comes with at least two search coils. Don't buy at a surplus or discount store unless you are knowledgeable and have confidence in the store.

Other equipment you might need includes: a folding army trench spade, a prospector's pick, a metal probe, an 8-lb. sledgehammer, a Geiger counter, a hoist, rope, and some pulleys.

Before you start searching, make sure you have permission from the owner of the property, preferably in the form of a written agreement. The legality of searching on state land varies according to specific state laws; federally owned land, except for national parks, is usually open to treasure hunters.

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