Finding treasure is easy….if you know where it is being lost.
© 2012 Steve Hathcock
Contact the women’s groups at local churches. They can tell you where church picnics and outdoor social events were held. These are always prime sites for metal detecting. Be sure to run your detector around the base of playground equipment or other areas where young people played. It is not uncommon for a child to lose small change while playing tag or going down the slide. Oftentimes, the young men of the congregation would organize a touch football game, or a tug of war. Coins and watches set aside so as not to be lost would inadvertently be forgotten. I’ve found more than a few caches of coins neatly stacked along the base of a fence post or other permanent landmark. Parishioners would place pictures, newspaper articles and other items into a time capsule that would be encased in the corner stone of a new church. It is not uncommon to find coins or other souvenirs thrown under the foundation at the same time for luck.
There is a bridge spanning Beaver Creek in downtown Sparta. As a child, I remember watching soldiers stationed at nearby Fort McCoy tossing pennies into its waters. Old-timers told how the ritual had started during the war. The men would pitch their coins towards a large flat rock positioned in the center of the slow moving stream. The idea was to see who could land their coin closest to the edge without it actually entering the water. The winner would collect a dollar from each of the participants. Of course, there were lots of misses. My older brother Bill and I built a frame of wood and screen. We spent several evenings searching in the cool waters of the creek. While one of us held the frame just under the surface, the other shoveled sand and gravel from the creek bottom onto the screen. The flowing water would wash the sand back into the creek. It was an easy task to separate the good stuff from the gravel that remained behind. It was hard work holding that screen though and my arms were sore for days but the rewards were worth the effort. We found in excess of $20 in old Lincoln and Indian head pennies. There was about five dollars in silver coins including a half dollar dated 1906 and a silver three cent piece. Unfortunately the date had been worn away on the three cent piece, but it was still a thrill to find a coin that was over a hundred years old.
On the Island I always send people to the beaches in front of the major hotels or down to Isla Blanca Park. There are a tremendous amount of tourists visiting the Island on a year-round basis and the best part of beach hunting is the surf brings in new treasure on a daily basis! At the beach, look where other metal detectorists are digging. They are probably finding coins. Coins are often found in hard lumps of clay,
so don’t be in a hurry to pitchthat clod of dirt. Early Spanish coins look like flat tar balls when found in the surf, and are quite fragile so be careful when handling a suspected find. Don’t trust your discriminator, dig everything, gold rings often read as “trash” at the beach.One of my favorite Island hunting spots is the stretch of shore near the south jetties. You must enter the County park if you wish to drive your car. You can always access the beach anywhere within the city limits and walk south. This is an area that is used heavily year around. This past year I saw bags full of jewelry, coins and other “treasures” that had been found along here. Be prepared to find a lot of junk too. People have been vacationing on the Island since the days of early Spanish settlers. You will find numerous sets of hotel and car keys. Don’t throw them away, The South Padre Island Police Department may be able to reunite the lost item with it’s owner, and you may be in for a reward!