Where to Find Treasure: Hunting in Unusual Places

By Michael Bernzweig

Location, location, location. Choosing a place to treasure hunt with your metal detector is especially important. It will dictate what you find and how much you will find. If you hunt on the beach, you’re likely to find lost jewelry, coins and watches. If you visit the site of a Civil War battlefield, you are more likely to find flat buttons, bayonets, canteens, and shell casings. And accordingly, if you hunt at the site of a century-old privy pit, you may encounter antique bottles and jars. Veteran detectorists have a rule of thumb: search where many people have walked or congregated. There are popular sites among treasure hunters. They include: beaches, parks, schoolyards, playgrounds, ball fields, bike or hiking trails, picnic areas, recreation areas and outdoor theaters.

Start with the History of your Town

If you are sincerely interested in finding prosperous hunting ground, do some upfront planning and research. Call this information digging before the real digging begins. It is not difficult to find snippets about the background and history of your city or town. Not everybody is aware of it, but most cities keep historical information on file at the library. Consider this fun research—it’s not like you have to write a report. This information is going to help you find treasure; without it, you may be detecting aimlessly for hours. Be sure to read our article entitled "Digging into research at your local library" for some great ideas on researching and uncovering the best sites in your town.

When you visit the library, check for the section on local history. Ask the research librarian to direct you. Look for stories about celebrations, local businesses, sporting events, boarding houses and the town industry. If you can get your hands on old maps with crossroads and homestead markers, this will also prove valuable. Here are some suggestions for good hunting locations that you can research at your local library:

  • Abandoned houses
  • Boarding houses, saloons, hotels
  • Civil War battlefields and encampments
  • Crime stories, unsolved robberies
  • Discovery of ores (gold, copper, silver)
  • Fires, floods or disasters that destroyed buildings
  • Halls and meeting places for civic groups (i.e. Elks club)
  • Local landmarks, points of interest
  • New bridges, thoroughfares that opened up a community
  • Wagon train and emigrant routes
  • Social and church events
  • Surveying expeditions
  • Location of the old town dump

Privy pits (or old outhouses) were used as refuse disposal areas many years ago. Bottle diggers flock to these sites in search of antique bottles, jars and relics. Also, keep an eye out for old highways, ball fields, town commons, fair grounds and railroads that have since closed. There are many detecting opportunities here.

Be Opportunistic: Stay Tuned to Construction Projects, Urban Developments

If you think outside of the box, you may surprise yourself with ideas for treasure hunting sites. Brainstorm about past events and your town lore. Have you heard about a historical farm that was once run by wealthy folks and is now vacant? It’s wise to be opportunistic as a treasure hunter. Seize useful information and run with it! Here’s an example: people often hid their savings and belongings years ago. During the Great Depression, families didn’t trust their finances to a bank, so they stored valuables in hiding places for safe-keeping. They may have used loose planks on the floor, movable bricks on a wall or the attic to hide cash, jewelry and other possessions. If you can gain access to an abandoned homestead, these are spots for serious metal detecting. (Always get permission first!)

Suppose you know the oldest areas of your town, which are highly populated now and don’t offer much open space for detecting. Instead of turning a blind eye, consider this: there are still small grassy areas by the curb, center strips on some boulevards and dirt pathways between buildings. These areas have probably escaped a bulldozer for the past 80 years. You will recognize areas that haven’t been developed for several years. These are precious hunting grounds.

Stay alert to changes in the landscape around you. If the city is tearing up the sidewalk or the utility company is laying new pipe, take the opportunity to search normally off-limit areas. When streets throughout the city are installing fiber optic cables—trees, bushes and road shoulders are often dug up. Detectorists say before or after the digging takes place is the perfect time to go out with a metal detector. Soil that was once 5 feet underground is now on the top layer. They have discovered valuable old coins and relics by doing so. You will realize that there are plenty of ‘ripe for the picking’ places to hunt right in your own neighborhood.

If you are looking for a new multi-purpose metal detector, here are our top-selling models for versatile treasure hunting:

Entry-Level Deep-Seeking Detectors

Mid-Level Deep-Seeking Detectors

High-End Deep-Seeking Detectors

MetalDetector.com’s "My Metal Detecting Finds" Stories

Want to get inspired to find treasure in your home town? MetalDetector.com has a special website section dedicated to noteworthy metal detecting finds. Anyone is welcome to submit real treasure hunting stories with photos of their metal detecting finds. Then, readers vote on their favorites. Adrian from Texas submitted "Can you Call it a Day?" A new hobbyist, he decided to do some hometown research. He found one of the town’s oldest and vacant schools. He came searching for silver and left the school a very happy man! You will surely find amazing treasure yourself by conducting research, thinking outside of the box and becoming an opportunistic detectorist!

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