This update comes from one of our readers who would prefer to remain anonymous. Let’s call him Homer. Thank you Homer for the update!
A while back I wrote an article about a California musician who thought he had located a land-locked sunken ship by using Google Earth and a coin detector. He wanted to find a big treasure so he could finance his music and film ventures. Nathan Smith said he was inspired by the National Treasure movies to hunt for treasure. Weren’t we all? I know I ran right out and started looking for that KGC golden city! If you remember from the first article on this I wasn’t that too enamored with the guy. I guess if you’re going to be a musician looking for treasure you better be from Tennessee!
Anyway, Mr. Smith had sued a land owner in federal court to gain the rights to salvage a ship that he thought was on dry land in Texas. Well, the land isn’t completely dry, it sits in a flood plain near the Mission River in Refugio County, about 160 miles south of Houston and is underwater on occasion.
When federal judge made his ruling it turned out to be good news and bad news for Mr. Smith. The good news? The judge ruled that the land in question is considered to be “navigable waters” and that if the ship actually exists it is considered abandoned. This means that if Mr. Smith has enough evidence to prove that the ship is where he says it is, he can file a salvage claim on the vessel and the landowners won’t be able to stop him from digging.
The bad news? Mr. Smith doesn’t have any evidence that the ship is where he says it is or that it really existed. According to the court, the only evidence that Mr. Smith supplied to the court was his own personal testimony as to the story, what he found using Google Earth, what his detector readings were and a fuzzy photo of a piece of wood that he had found and then lost. U.S. District Judge David Hittner wrote a 44 page opinion on the case in which he stated; “Smith has received no artifacts and presents no evidence, other than his own testimony regarding metal detector readings, that anything of value or historical significance actually exists where he claims it exists.” The judge also stated that “Smith genuinely believes in his own mind that he actually has discovered the resting place of an ancient shipwreck”.
Mr. Smith’s attorney said his client wasn’t deterred by the judge’s ruling and that his client plans on getting additional proof that the ship is there. I’m actually rooting for the guy but I just wish he’d be a little smarter with how he is going about things. He doesn’t seem to be making the greatest impression as a treasure hunter. Mr. Smiths attorney did say that his client “has been contacted by folks with technology that might help Smith come back to court again with evidence to convince the judge.”
Here’s the thing about the case that really ticks me off. Although nobody apparently believed that Nathan Smith had found an ancient ship wreck and he had absolutely no proof that he had, the Texas Historical Commission tried to squeeze their way into the civil suit just in case Nathan Smith got lucky. The judge refused to allow the Texas Historical Commission to be a party to the case and they vowed to appeal the judges ruling. It’s just like a bunch of archies to sit around and let somebody else do all of the work and then try to swoop in and take the find. Keep in mind I don’t really think Mr. Smith is right but I think the archies are despicable for trying to take control.
Maybe Homer will give us another update on this if anything else is found.