View Full Version : I'm new to this site and have questions

Robert Roy
06-28-2007, 06:26 AM

I am retired and interested in visiting old ghost towns and bringing along my metal detector. I am specifically interested in the ghost towns of Arizona and Nevada. Are there any laws restricting my going there with a metal detector? WHo owns the land. Government?

06-28-2007, 09:42 AM
Welcome to the forum Rob! :)
It depends on who owns the land the ghost town or mining site is located on ie: BLM, National Park, Forest Service, State Land, etc, as to what the different laws are pertaining to metal detecting. In a nutshell, it's pretty much a no-no to metal detect on these sites but you should probably check with the agency who owns the particular land you're going to visit and see what they have to say on the subject. Each agency has a web site with the information you're looking for.
Here's a link on this forum where the subject was discussed, (plow through the other non-related stuff) ;)
taking things from ghosttowns? - Ghosttowns.com Forums (http://forums.ghosttowns.com/showthread.php?t=15363&highlight=metal+detecting)
There are other posts too if you do a search on this board for "metal detecting."
This link might also be of use to you, good luck!
Treasure Hunting and Metal Detecting Law Guide (http://www.treasurefish.com/government.htm)

Robert Roy
06-28-2007, 10:05 AM
What a bum trip! Too bad really. I suppose its because so many others have spoiled it for the rest of us.

06-28-2007, 04:07 PM
Actually, I believe the laws were originally written to preserve these sites, however, when you visit some of the more accessible sites, in many cases you'll see the laws aren't working very well. Theft, breakage and vandalism are rampant.

06-28-2007, 04:32 PM

Metal detecting is a legitimate means of locating gold or other mineral specimens and can be an effective prospecting tool for locating larger mineral deposits. This activity can also be conducted as a recreational activity locating lost coins, jewelry or other incidental metallic items of no historical value. Prospecting using a metal detector can be conducted under the General Mining Laws and is covered under the Forest Service 36 CFR 22~A locatable mineral regulations for lands open to mineral entry. Metal detecting for treasure trove or lost items such as coins and jewelry is managed as a non minerals-related recreation activity. It is Forest Service policy that the casual collection of rocks and mineral samples is allowed on the National Forests.

Prospecting using metal detectors is a low surface impact activity that involves digging small holes rarely more than six inches deep. Normally, prospecting with a metal detector does not require a notice of intent or written authorization since it only involves searching for and occasionally removing small rock samples or mineral specimens (36 CFR 228 .4(a)).

Metal detectors may be used on public land in areas that do not contain or would not reasonably he expected to contain archaeological or historical resources. Normally, developed campgrounds, swimming beaches, and other developed recreation sites are open to recreational metal detecting unless there arc archaeological or historical resources present. In such cases, forest supervisors are authorized to close the area to metal detecting and the closure would he posted at the site. Such closure notices are not always practical in undeveloped areas, and federal agencies have not identified every archaeological site on public lands. It is possible therefore, that you may encounter such archaeological remains that have not yet been documented or an area that is not closed even though it does indeed contain such remains. Archaeological remains on public land arc protected under law. If you were to discover such remains, you should leave them undisturbed and notify a Forest Service office.

The purpose of the restrictions to metal detecting on public lands is to protect historical remains. The Code of Federal Regulations, (36 CFR 261.9) states, “The Following are prohibited: (g) Digging in, excavating, disturbing, injuring, destroying, or in any way damaging any prehistoric, historic, or archaeological resources, structure, site, artifact, or property. (h) Removing any prehistoric, historic, or archaeological resources, structure, site, artifact, property.” The Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA, 16 U.S.C. 470cc:smile: also prohibits these activities, stating, “No person may excavate, remove, damage, or otherwise alter or deface or attempt to excavate, remove, damage or otherwise alter or deface any archaeological resources located on public lands or Indian lands unless such activity a pursuant to a permit...” ARPA exempts the collection of coins for personal use if the coins are not in an archaeological context. in some cases, historically significant coins and other metallic artifacts may be part of an historical-period archaeological site, in which case they would he considered archaeological resources and arc protected under law. These laws apply to all National Forest System land and do not vary from state to state.
Four forms of metal detector use are recognized.

I. Searching for treasure trove: Treasure trove is defined as money, gems, or precious metals in the form of coin, plate, or bullion that has been deliberately hidden with the intention of recovering it later. This activity requires a Special Use Permit under The Act of June 4, 1897 (16 U.S.C. 551). Forest Service Manual 2724.4 states “allow persons to search for buried treasure on National Forest System lands, but protect the rights of the public regarding ownership of, or claims on, any recovered property.

2. Prospecting: Using a metal detector to locate gold or other mineral deposits is an allowed activity under the General Mining laws and is subject to the 36 CFR 228A regulations, A Notice of Intent (36 CFR 228.4(a)) is normally not required for prospecting using a metal detector. A Notice of Intent (NOl) is required for any prospecting which might cause disturbance of surface resources. A plan of operation is required for any prospecting that will likely cause significant disturbance of surface resources. Normal metal detecting does not cause surface impacts that require either a NOI or a Plan of Operation. People who use metal detectors for prospecting should bear in mind that many of the mineralized lands within the National Forests and open to mineral entry have been “claimed” by others who have sole right to prospect and develop the mineral resources found on the mining claim. A search of County and Bureau of Land Management records should he made prior to prospecting to determine if an area has been claimed.

Normally, any gold found can he removed and kept. Lf the removal of the gold, rocks, or minerals might cause disturbance of surface resources, beyond digging a small shallow hole, an NOI may be required.

3. Searchjng for historic or prehistoric artifacts: Using a metal detector to locate archaeological or historical remains is subject to the Antiquities Act of 1906 and the Archeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 (ARPA) as amended and requires a special use permit. Such permits are granted for scientific research only, however, there are many ways to get involved with organized, scientific research. See below for ways to use metal detectors for this purpose under sanctioned public archaeology programs.

4. Recreational pursuits: The most common form of metal detector use is searching for lost coins, jewelry, and incidental metal items having no historical value. Such use is common in developed campgrounds, swimming areas, and picnic areas and requires no permit. However, one must assume personal responsibility to notice if the area may indeed contain archaeological or historical resources and if it does, cease metal detecting and notify a Forest Service office. Not doing so may result in prosecution under the Code of Federal Regulations or ARPA.

Metal detecting in the National Forests is recognized as a legitimate prospecting method under the General Mining Laws and also as a recreational activity for the casual collection of rocks and minerals. This policy does not permit the use of metal detectors in or around known or undiscovered cultural or historic sites in order to protect our valuable, non-renewable historical resources. However, recognizing the universal interest in archaeology and history and the vast public knowledge of such resources, the USDA Forest Service sponsors a public archaeology program through which metal detector enthusiasts and others can help. Passport In Time (PIT) is a national program inviting the public to work with agency archaeologists on historic preservation projects. We have done numerous projects through PIT in cooperation with metal detecting clubs and individuals. The cooperation has been beneficial for both the detectorists and agency’s archaeologists. Locating archaeological sites becomes a joint endeavor and we learn a great deal. If you would like more information on this program, call 1-800-281-9176 or visit http://www.oasstjortintime.com (http://www.oasstjortintime.com/)

03-12-2008, 08:44 AM

I am retired and interested in visiting old ghost towns and bringing along my metal detector. I am specifically interested in the ghost towns of Arizona and Nevada. Are there any laws restricting my going there with a metal detector? WHo owns the land. Government?

We also welcome you to ghost towns bulletin board. We just wondered if you have been to any ghost town through the years or is this a new hobby?

If this is a new hobby try to get to visit the best remainining ghost towns first, as you most likely already know many of these historical sites are vanishing fast. and soon will be just sites.

When we started visiting ghost towns in the late 1950s there was alot to still see but most of them have become just a pile tin cans and few boards to mark the spot.

Have fun and keep us posted on your adventures.

Your fellow ghosttowners
J & S

03-12-2008, 01:21 PM
OWNERSHIP of land can be determined at your local Court House in the Assessor's Office. It is available for free. The clerks who work in there are very helpfull and knowledgeable. They can give you exact directions and provide you with maps of the area including plats of the subdivision or in some cases, ghost town townsites, of the past. Often they also have aerial photos of the county which cost money for copies. There is sometimes a charge for copies of maps too.
Back in the 1980s I happened to mention the lost stage coach loot buried in the City of Rocks in Cassia County, Idaho. An elderly part-time Property Appraiser told me he had seen where somebody had extracted something that had been buried back in the 1940s. It was under a large slab of rock that had recently fractured and slid off the main rock. The "rocks" are huge boulders often 50 feet or higher. He saw where the fellow had burrowed beneath the slab and dug up something, presumably the loot. This just emphasizes how much info your Assessor's Office has. Like I said they're friendly and the info is free. On an Assessor's record it will show the owner of the property, name, address, etc.