Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hang on to your shorts, here comes Uncle Sam!

From the WorldNetDaily

WASHINGTON – A land management bill that swept through the U.S. Senate last month and is headed for a House vote this week punishes rock collectors and paleontologists with arrest and expropriation of their cars and other equipment for even unknowingly disturbing fossils on public land, say critics.

In the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, a "forfeiture" provision would let the government confiscate "all vehicles and equipment of any person" who digs up or removes a rock or a bone from federal land that meets the bill's broad definition of "paleontological resource," says a report by Jon Berlau of the Competitive Enterprise Institute."The seizures could take place even before a person and even if the person didn't know they were taking or digging up a 'paleontological resource," writes Berlau. "And the bill specifically allows the 'transfer of seized resources' to 'federal or non-federal' institutions, giving the government and some private actors great incentive to egg on the takings.

"Tracie Bennitt, president of the Association of Applied Paleontological Sciences, is protesting the bill's vague language and severe penalties."We can visualize now a group of students unknowingly crossing over an invisible line and ending up handcuffed and prosecuted," she wrote to members of Congress.

Subtitle D of the bill called the "Paleontological Resources Preservation Act" would make it illegal to "excavate, remove, damage, or otherwise alter or deface or attempt to excavate, remove, damage, or otherwise alter or deface any paleontological resources located on Federal land" without special permission from the government.

"Paleontological resource" is defined in the bill as "any fossilized remains, traces, or imprints of organisms, preserved in or on the earth's crust, that are of paleontological interest and that provide information about the history of life on earth."

Penalties for violations include up to five years in jail.

Berlau believes picking up rocks could be interpreted as a violation of the law since most would fit the broad definition under the law.

The forfeiture provision is effective before a trial and conviction, making the defendant guilty until proven innocent, Berlau suggests.

Berlau believes the House will take up a vote on the bill this week. He is urging Americans to contact representatives before the bill, known both as S. 22 and the "Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009" is approved, as expected, and heads to the White House for President Obama's signature.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Search & Salvage Contracts

If you do much treasure hunting at all you are eventually going to end up on private property. There are lots of public places you can treasure hunt, err, I mean hike, but when you get right down to it, there are a lot of treasures located on private property and if you are doing things the right way you will have a contract with the property owner to protect you and the owner.

I was told many years ago by an old friend and treasure hunter that if you can’t trust a man’s handshake then having a piece of paper won’t make much difference either. For the most part, when you are talking about treasure hunting partners this is very true. When you are talking about recovering a treasure on private property, a treasure that could very well change your whole lifestyle, then having that signed piece of paper may make all the difference in the world!

C.Y.A. Cover Your Ass!! The last thing you want to happen is for a land owner to change his or her mind about what you get just as you pull that strongbox full of double eagles out of the ground. A good contract protects both the treasure hunter and the property owner. A contract can be as simple as a one page agreement that covers the split to a multi-page agreement that covers damage to the property, the duration of the contract, what can be discussed with who, movie and book rights, etc. I’m sure you are laughing about the movie and book rights thing but now-a-days that can be a very valuable piece of the contract if you are hunting something left behind by a famous outlaw or maybe something that could change the way people look at history.

Generally speaking, any contract should include when you can be on the property and for how long, such as a year or three. It will also include the split percentages and wording that covers anything of value that is found. You don’t want to miss out on a share of a bucket of gold nuggets when you contract limits your share to a percentage of “coins” or something else specific.

Other things you might consider in a “normal” contract might be a non-disclosure clause limiting who you and the landowner can tell about what you are doing and what you find. A renewal clause allowing you to automatically renew the contract at the date of expiration if you haven’t found what you are looking for is always good. A no-compete clause is a good thing. This prohibits the landowner from legally searching for the treasure or assigning the rights to someone else while your contract is in effect. Please notice I said “legally”. Some people will search no matter what and you have to prepared for that sort of thing.

Depending on what you are searching for and how you plan to recover it a contract can have several things in it such as a paragraph allowing you to use heavy equipment for the recovery or for you to be able to camp on the property. You can include paragraphs about what actions will be taken in the event you recover human bones or how specifically the treasure will be distributed and when.

You can put just about anything you want into a contract. It doesn’t necessarily mean it will be binding but it might give you a little leeway if you run into problems. I have found for the most part that the simpler and more straightforward contract will get you onto more property. Don’t get me wrong, you want to cover yourself but the more stuff that is in a contract the more a landowner will think twice about signing it.

I try to keep my contracts simple. I usually included a no-compete and non-disclosure clause and a paragraph stating I will endeavor return the property to its original state should any digging be done. The paragraph about the split lists several things including coins, specie, ingots, raw minerals, artifacts, relics and anything of value.

You can find several different search and salvage contracts on the internet and usually a mix of two or more will get you what you need. If you have the money, having an attorney familiar with the civil laws in your state review the contract would be a good thing.

Thankfully, I have never had any problems with a landowner (yet). They have all been interested in the fact that an outlaw or the Spanish were on their property in the past or they think I’m nuts and there isn’t any treasure on their property. Either way, I usually get permission to hunt.

I will say that the difference between getting permission and getting told to take a hike is generally in the way you approach the landowner and your own demeanor at the time. If you come off as a wing-nut or dirt-bag you can forget about getting permission. Do your research before you approach the landowner about treasure. Know what you are talking about and be prepared to answer a few (or a lot) of questions. Be patient and professional and you shouldn’t have any problems.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Texas Lead Mine

I have recently found out that there is a certain type of lead that is more valuable than “ordinary” lead. This special lead is used in the electronics industry and it is low in a specific type of radiation emissions and it gets that way from being “old”. Apparently, the longer it sits around the more the particles decay and the more valuable the lead becomes. The lowest rated lead in this category can sell for as much as $1000.00 per pound!

And that brings us to this article, it all about a lost lead mine in Texas. Near Giddings, Texas is a very rich lead mine that could make somebody very happy. It might not make you filthy rich but it could make you comfortable and who doesn’t want to be comfortable?

In 1835 there was a man named James Goacher who lived on Rabb Creek in Lee County, TX with his family. Mr. Goacher made his living selling "pure lead" from his “secret” lead mine to the settlers in the area so they could make their much-needed bullets to fend off the Indians. Mr. Goacher was very secretive about the location of his lead mine and took several precautions whenever he went to visit the mine.

The story goes that whenever he went to the mine he would leave going one direction and come back from another direction. Sometimes his trips to the mine took him hours and sometimes the trips would only take 20 minutes or so. It is unknown if he kept an already mined stash of lead handy so he would confuse those trying to time him or it could be some of the lead was just harder to dig out than the rest. Either way, he made sure no one knew where that lead mine was.

Unfortunately for Mr. Goacher the Indians were aware of his occupation and deemed it detrimental to their own health since the lead was being made into bullets to kill the Indians. Being the clever people that they were, the Indians decided to stop this flow of lead to the settlers by cutting off the supply. Mr. Goacher and his family were killed in their cabin and the location of the lead mine was lost forever.

Well, hopefully not forever. I’m sure some intrepid treasure hunter can relocate this lead mine with a little bit of research and a lot of hiking around. You may not get rich from it but you might be able to pay off your house!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Utah Red Gold

What’s that you say? You never heard of red gold? Well, let me tell you a story my friends.

Red gold gets it’s reddish color from being mixed with copper. The more copper the redder the gold. Most red gold is man made and used in jewelry however there is at least one spot in Grand County, Utah that has a natural occurring ledge of red gold. This ledge of gold was exceptionally rich and assayed out at an amazing $70,000.00 per ton. Now that’s the kind of prospecting I can get in to!

Back in the 1800’s a man by the name of Jack Wright came across this rich ledge of red gold and dug a little out. He took it to the nearest town and had it assayed and found out it would produce 70 grand per ton. You can imagine the surprise on his face and the disgust later on when he couldn’t find his way back to the ledge.

That’s right, it’s a lost ledge of gold. You wouldn’t be reading about it here if it wasn’t lost would you?

It seems Jack Wright wasn’t much of a prospector. Actually, he wasn’t a prospector at all and made his living as an outlaw, which apparently didn’t serve him too well. After finding the ledge the first time and bringing the samples to town to be assayed he spent about a year in the area searching for the lost ledge of gold. Jack never found the ledge of red gold and “disappeared” during the time he was hunting for it.

This incredibly rich ledge of gold is supposed to be located along the old “Horse Thief Trail” somewhere between Peter’s Point and Old La Sal. The ledge was described as being in a low rock outcropping close to the trail. Other information says this spot is near where an ancient Indian trail from the southwest meets with an old Spanish trail that used to come up from Santa Fe.

For years there were legends of the local Indians bringing in some of the reddish gold to sell. It was said that the gold came from the same area as Jack Wright’s lost ledge of gold and that the Indians said the ledge of gold was exposed every time a hard rain fell in the area. The Indians said their gold came from a low-lying rock outcropping just as described by Jack Wright.

Would that mean this ledge isn’t really lost? If no one has filed a mining claim and mined all of the gold from the ledge then I would say no, it is still lost and it sounds like it would probably be worth searching for.

Monday, February 16, 2009

El Dorado County, California

I guess they call it El Dorado (a legendary place fabled for it riches in gold and jewels) for a reason.

This story takes us to California, specifically to a ranch near Bottle Hill. If you go to look for this place on a map it won’t be there. Bottle Hill sprang up in 1854 during the gold rush and the town pretty much died out by 1882 when the gold rush of that area subsided. The remnants of the town were destroyed many years ago by wildfires and logging and then the wild brush grew in virtually erasing the location of the town. Bottle Hill was located in a gold baring area described as a “big lake, bone dry, leaving gravel and gold in it’s basin”.

In the 1860’s a rancher by the name of Hiram Neal owned 600 acres of land near Bottle Hill. Mr. Neal prospered during his life but he never had a family of his own. As he began to age he decided to confide in his nieces and nephews about a rich gold deposit that was located on his ranch.

Hiram Neil told his nieces and nephews that the gold deposit was something he visited often and showed them a gallon jug filled with gold nuggets, most the size of a marble. He was in his 70’s when he told of his secret and apparently the nieces and nephews were anxiously awaiting his death after that. Hiram Neal told his relatives that he would eventually tell them where the gold deposit was but on his deathbed he refused to do so.

As they pestered the dying old man about where the gold was he continued to refuse to tell them, saying only that the gallon jug of gold nuggets he had collected was “buried near by”.

He took the secret of the location of the gallon jug of gold nuggets and the location of the gold deposit on his land to the grave with him. The family searched for many years after his death for both but never found either.

With a good metal detector, some research and a little luck you just might be able to find one or both of these golden deposits.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Silver City, Oklahoma

As the weather starts to warm up and before the farmers start planting their crops you might want to head out to Grady County, OK to do a little practicing with your detector.

This spot, the location of an old ghost town known as Silver City, could bring you several artifacts and even a few coins. Silver City, OK was established on the south side of the Canadian River about three miles north of present day Tuttle, OK. The post office was established in May of 1883 and remained open until June of 1890. The town, or village as most people knew it, was established well before the post office but no one knows exactly when the town became a town. Before 1880 there was a Mexican family that lived where the town stood that used to sell stock whips to the cowboys when they came through.

Why would cowboys come through you say? The Chisholm Trail ran directly through the town and it was a major stop for the cattle movers because of the grazing land around the river and because of three small creeks in the vicinity that supplied good water. This made for a lot of traffic through this area.

In 1890 the Rock Island Railroad extended its tracks to the south side of the river and a new town called Minco was established. Over the next couple of years everyone in Silver City migrated to Minco and Silver City died out. The only thing that remains of Silver City today is the Cemetery. As far as I know, the whole area that was Silver City is now farmland. With permission, this could be a bonanza of relics.

Silver City, OK was located in Grady County in Section 22, Township 10 North, Range 6 West.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Those Crazy Lines

The photo I have posted with this article is from a carved map left behind by an outlaw. This symbol is another one of those things that doesn’t mean anything when looked at out of context. You have to have worked the map up to this point for this “instruction” to actually tell you anything useful.

The main “instruction” of this particular symbol is “take a line”. Take a line from where you ask? You did ask that didn’t you? That’s where looking at this carving out of context will confuse the crap out of you. You have to work the map and find the point at which you take the line. Knowing where that point is and HOW you got to that point is just as important as knowing that this symbol is telling you to take a line. Without knowing where you are supposed to be you won’t know where to take the line to.

If you will notice the top of this line has a small connecting line going off to the left. This small line indicates the line you took to the last clue from the one just before that. Since this short line intersects with the long line of this symbol at a 90 degree angle this symbol is telling you to make a 90 degree turn from the last clue you found and follow that line. In other words, the corner of the two lines is the location of the clue you should be standing at when you get ready to take or follow this line.

Another detail you should notice is that the short line is beveled toward the bottom. This symbol came from the same map the last symbol I wrote about came from. This beveling on the short line tells you that “down hill” is on your right as you followed that line. This will give you the information you need to know which direction to make the 90 degree turn towards. The long line is taking you down hill since it is on the same side as the beveling on the short line.

Looking at even more detail in this symbol you will see that the first part of the long section of line has a “dip” to it before the rest of the line straightens out. As I said in the previous article about the “O” symbol, this outlaw was very detailed in his map for some reason. At this point in the map that dip represents going down hill for a portion of the line you are taking and then you hit flat ground and continue the line out. The “dip” portion of the line is meant to indicate “downhill” and show you that there is a transition of terrain as you follow this line and that you shouldn’t stop at the bottom of the hill.

Keep in mind I think this particular outlaw was a little anal with his symbols because I have never seen another carved map with this kind of detail in it. There is detail and then there is this guy! With that said, you should also always keep it in your mind that there are details in maps that will help you interpret your symbols. If the person who carved the map put the information there then it is probably important.

Unless of course they are trying to trick you with a lot of nonsense symbols but we’ll save that for another article.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

On the Border

You’re thinking about Mexican food right now, aren’t you?

This article isn’t about Mexican food, although a cerveza and some nachos sound pretty good, it’s about treasure, and the border I am talking about is the one between Kansas and Oklahoma.

Back in the 1890’s there were two brothers, Chester and Alexander Morgan, who raised cattle and grew wheat just on the Kansas side of the border near Liberal, KS. It is said the brothers were more than just a little unscrupulous in their dealings with people and amassed a fortune in gold coins, which was hidden by the brothers somewhere.

The two brothers didn’t trust banks and they had screwed over so many people in the area that they didn’t want anybody to know exactly how much money they had or where it was kept. Over the years their list of enemies continued to grow until they had pretty much alienated everybody in the area. As the two brothers continued with their shady deals the locals finally got to the point where they just weren’t going to take it anymore.

Chester and Alexander Morgan were dragged from their home on their farm, shot and killed and then their house was burned to the ground. What did I tell you about Karma?

It is estimated that the two brothers had between $100,000 and $150,000 in gold coins buried somewhere on their farm but none of this money was ever found. The location of what used to be their farm is along the current day Highway 54 near Liberal, KS. Their land was supposed to border along the Oklahoma line. A check of the old records at the Seward County Assessors office would give you the exact location. I’m sure this farm is broken into several pieces by now with more than one person owning parts of the old farm.

While you are in the area you might want to talk to some of the old locals about a treasure legend that deals with the downtown area of Liberal, KS. There is a story that there is a treasure of gold and silver coins hidden under one of the old downtown buildings. It seems that know one really knows the origin of this story, only that it has been around for a very long time.

According to the different stories this treasure doesn’t seem to be buried but hidden. Stories say that the treasure is under the floor of the building in a trap door or false bottom type set up that no one can seem to find and others say the treasure is hidden in a wall on the bottom floor of the building. None of the stories mention which building or who may have put this treasure where it is.

If I had to guess, it would make logical sense that the treasure probably belonged to a merchant who had a store in downtown Liberal during the late 1800’s. A little research on the old buildings still existing would tell you which ones were used for what during that time and might just narrow down the search a little.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Bread Tray Mountain in Missouri, A Silver Hunter's Dream?

If you happen to get out to the southeast part of Missouri you might want to do some poking around Bread Tray Mountain near Potosi, MO.

It is known that the Spanish were in this area as late as the 1830’s and mined silver from this mountain. Several Spanish artifacts have been recovered from a cave on this mountain known as “Old Spanish Cave”. Pretty original name, huh? As the story goes and it’s about the same as every place else, the Spaniards came into the area, enslaved the Indians and made them do the mining of the silver for them.

The Spaniards were said to have built a fort on top of Bread Tray Mountain, elevation above sea level about 1400 feet, and that they stored the mined silver in a vault that was located under the fort. They were planning on taking the silver by land to a ship and have it sent back to Spain but the Indians had other plans. As you can imagine, the Indians killed or ran off the Spaniards and the massive amount of silver was supposedly left sealed in the vault under the fort never to be seen again.

There is another story of a silver mine on Bread Tray Mountain, this one about a group of “renegade” Indians that were mining silver on their own. Sometime around 1832 this small group of Indians, who were supposedly seeking shelter from a bad storm at the time, found a cave. This cave had a really nice vain of silver in it which this group of Indians began to mine. It is said that the Indians made jewelry out of the silver that they traded or sold as far away as St. Louis.

The vein of silver in this cave was so big that the Indians began having a surplus of silver so it was melted down into ingots and stored inside the cave. Now here is a twist you don’t normally hear, the band of Indians saw a group of “Mexican gold hunters” approaching the mountain, coming up the White River and they thought if they were discovered the Mexicans might attack in order to take control of the silver mine.

The Indians are said to have carefully concealed the entrance to the cave and then headed west from the mountain to avoid the Mexicans. As with most treasure legends, the Indians were besieged by bad luck in their travels and they supposedly never returned to the site of the silver mine.

So the Spanish came first and were eventually run off or killed by Indians and then the Indians ran off because of the Mexicans. No wonder this is such a mystery!

Did the renegade Indians in 1832 stumble across the old Spanish silver mine from a few years earlier? Could there be two separate silver mines on Bread Tray Mountain that produced a large amount of silver?

Either way it appears that there are two separate stashes of silver bars on this mountain just waiting to be found. One where the old Spanish fort was supposed to be and one in the cave where the Indians mined their silver from.

Silver isn't as expensive as gold but I would think if you had a truck load of it you could still be a very happy camper, er..... hunter!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Hoodoo Gold

OK, even this is a little strange to me. This is an actual event that occurred in San Antonio during August of 1909. I’m not making this up, honest!

It seems that Mr. H.A. Alexander, who resided at 545 Gallagher’s Alley, began seeing a strange light coming from the ground at one of the corners of his house. This light had appeared around the end of July 1909 and continued every evening for about a week. It just so happens that the corner of the house where the light was emitting from had been settling some over the years. Mr. Alexander had stated that shortly after he started seeing the light coming from the ground he also began seeing a “vision of buried treasure” in the light.

After about a week of seeing this light and the visions a man arrived at Mr. Alexander’s home and told Mr. Alexander he was a “wise man” and that the light was the “spirits” letting him know that there was a buried treasure there. The self-proclaimed wise man told Mr. Alexander that for $10.00 he would dig the hole so the treasure could be retrieved.

Mr. Alexander was elated that there was a buried treasure on his property and he was even happier that it would only cost him ten dollars to have it dug up. He promptly paid the wise man the ten dollars and the digging was started right away.

Surprisingly, after digging a hole almost ten feet deep, six feet long and four feet wide an iron pot was uncovered. When they removed the lid from the iron pot they saw that it was filled with gold coins. According to the police at the time, the gold was thought to be worth between $30,000 and $50,000.

Now the story takes a really weird turn. It seems that after recovering the gold the wise man told Mr. Alexander that the spirits had more instructions about the treasure. According to the spirits, Mr. Alexander needed to give the wise man $25 and the iron pot with the gold coins needed to be buried in another hole on the same property and left for thirty days. After the thirty days the spirits would consider Mr. Alexander the rightful owner of the gold.

Again, the money was paid to the wise man and the gold was buried by the wise man very near where it was originally dug up. The next day Mr. Alexander could barely contain him self and went to look at the spot where his gold was buried. You saw this coming didn’t you? That’s right, the empty iron pot was found sitting on the ground next to the second hole and the “wise man” was never heard from again.

If all of this hadn’t have been reported by the police it would be very hard to believe but it appears to be a very real story.

There are several questions that could be asked here including just who was this “wise man” and how did he know about the treasure? Nothing I found mentioned a name for the wise man. Another question would be why was there light coming from the ground where the treasure was? Were the spirits trying to give Mr. Alexander a sign or was it something else?

I have researched “treasure auras” and I have even used a psychic or two in my many years of treasure hunting to get information about a treasure location but I have never had a psychic lead me to treasure. They took my money, but they never lead me to treasure!

Strange things happen in the treasure-hunting world and I guess this just proves it. I wonder if there is anything else in that neighborhood?