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Opinions on metal detecting

Over the years, I have had hundreds of questions and comments about metal detecting, prospecting and other forms of treasure hunting. After eight years of this site being online, I think it's time to dedicate a page to the subject.

First and foremost - I am a ghost town enthusiast. I enjoy visiting these sites, taking photos and hiking around. I like to imagine what it would have been like to live in these places before freeways, the Internet, Home Depot and Wal-Mart. I have never taken a single object from a ghost town. My boxes on ghost towns include thousands of photographic prints and hundreds upon hundreds of paper research notes- representative of many hours spent in libraries. My computer files contain hundreds of graphic images and tens of thousands of pieces of GIS data. To the people that accuse me of being a hypocrite relic hunter - I suggest you leave my website and never return. People like you are why I have adopted so harsh a view of metal detecting.

Metal detecting, relic collection and souvenier hunting does nothing to serve the public that owns most of these sites. Over time, what might have been a viable historic dig site becomes a worthless piece of uneven ground of no historic value to anyone. We are losing our collective history piece by piece. Those pieces sit undocumented and will eventually be trashed as junk when the thief's next of kin ruffles through their loved one's belonging seeking their own items to help them remember that loved one.

Put simply, relic collection is theft. Theft from our society as a whole.

The notions that everyone does it, that it really doesn't matter and there is no harm done in removing some small item are laughable. The actions taken by relic hunters have destroyed more history than they have ever "found". The arch at Gleeson, the mine building at Oro Belle and the rapid disintegration of Gillette, Sasco and other towns near the metro areas are testament to the speed at which relic collection erases history.

If you are going metal detecting, please do not bother to ask me questions. I do not believe that there is ANY good metal detecting in ghost towns. If you are truly ethical about your hobby, you would know the laws and regulations. Prospecting for gold is legal in many cases and I support your right to do so. Hunting relics on public land is not legal. Don't try to rationalize it to me.

I believe that there is enough information on my website about the various state and federal laws regarding relic collection that only a fool would ask me where he should go metal detecting. But to those who would ask and those who will go metal detecting in ghost towns - I will make you this pledge. I am out in the field and in these sites far more than the scant updates on this website reveal. If I see you defacing, digging or collecting in one of them, I will shoot pictures of you, your vehicle and your actions. Those photos and my sworn testimony will be forwarded to the proper authorities within 24 hours of my return home. I will testify against you in court and make public comments applauding your conviction.

These sites belong to all of us. I will do what I can to protect them. I have already begun forwarding photos and testimony.

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Copyright 2019 William M. Mogan All Rights Reserved

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