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