Ten Great Treasure Hunting Sites
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Ten Great Treasure Hunting Sites

The best treasure hunting sites include beaches, old farmers' dumps, junk cars and trucks, car washes, sewer drains and basins, old yards, commercial dumpsters and old houses. Coins, paper currency, jewelry, antique bottles, guns, vintage beer cans and other valuable artifacts can be found here.

Treasure is where you find it – so said one wise sage. Here are ten sites which can often yield coins, treasure and other valuables. Some require a metal detector while others do not. Start your search today!


Beaches continue to cough up coins, jewelry and other valuables. Quite simply, they are a magnet for lost items. Certain Florida beaches are famous for yielding booty from 18th century Spanish shipwrecks, including Spanish reales, rings, necklaces and other artifacts. As any treasure hunter will attest to, one of the best times to metal detect a beach is after a storm. One California beach detectorist scored over 1,000 coins following a particularly nasty storm, with many of the recovered quarters and dimes being of the pre-1965 silver variety.

Old Farmers' Dumps

In the old days, before regular garbage pickup and landfills, people simply disposed of their trash as best they could. Farmers often created makeshift dumps nearby, carting assorted junk to their own mini landfills. Many of these old dumps can still be located, where they can yield antique bottles, old license plates, coins and recyclable material. One farmer's dump proved to be especially valuable, coughing up a small treasure trove of old copper which had been used in a roofing project. Copper of course is the new gold in building materials, currently selling at over $4 a pound.

Junk Cars & Trucks

Scrap dealers crush old and abandoned cars and trucks daily. But before the vehicle goes to the crusher, the crafty scrap yard employees check the interiors, especially the seats, where coins, paper money, jewelry and other lost valuables may be lurking. One scrap yard dealer states that it's not unusual to find $10 to $12 in change per vehicle. And if the car or truck has been around for a while, one could score some pre-1965 silver coins as well, perhaps lost during the Elvis Presley era where some teenager got "all shook up" and dropped them in the backseat while making out with Peggy Sue. 

Used Books

People use a variety of makeshift bookmarks when reading. Believe it or not, paper currency is one of them, including large denominations. Library sales, flea markets, garage sales and any other venue where used books are sold could yield some hidden treasures between the pages. One person found an old 1952 St. Louis Browns baseball schedule which had been serving as a bookmark. It later sold to a collector for $10. "You'd be surprised what you find in returned books," one librarian told the author. "Paper bills are not uncommon."

Car Washes

Anywhere people handle money is an excellent treasure hunting site. That especially applies to car washes, where busy people wash and clean their cars and then hurriedly motor off into the sunset. In their wake they leave mostly trash and money, with the latter just sitting there inside the stalls or near the vacuuming stations, easy pickings for the casual treasure hunter.

Sewer Drains and Basins

Moving water can be a tremendous force, washing away anything in its path. It's not unusual for the savvy treasure hunter to check the sewer drains and basins, where mounds of lost coins can often turn up, along with other assorted valuables. One treasure hunter discovered a bar of Mexican silver during one of his underground forays, making for a most unusual and valuable find. One tip, though, if it looks like rain head to high ground!

Torn-Up Sidewalks 

Old sidewalks are torn up and replaced all the time. And for some reason, they always seem to yield a small treasure trove of coins. You'll need a metal detector for this one – unless of course you're Superman with the x-ray vision thing – as you sweep the area and dig up the lost coins of yesteryear.

Old Yards & Homesteads

Most any yard will yield lost coins, but it's the older spreads which cough up the silver and sometimes gold coins. As for old homesteads  – cabins, farms and the like – they can occasionally yield the monster finds. One treasure hunter located a horde of 19th century American gold coins with his metal detector, found at a site where an old cabin once stood.

Old Houses

In days gone by, some old-timers, harboring a distrust for banks, secreted cash in their homes or buried it in their back yards. The walls of more than a few old houses have coughed up a variety of riches. In Springfield, Illinois, one old home yielded a horde of late 19th and early 20th century banknotes. The currency apparently had been hidden in the walls by a former owner – and then forgotten. Only when the new owners began a remodeling project did the secreted treasure come to light. Carpenters, electricians and other tradesmen who work in old houses often report finding old coins, guns, vintage beer cans and other valuables in the walls, nooks and crannies.

Commercial Dumpsters

Dumpsters attract both trash and treasure. In fact, there are several specialty sites on the Internet that cater to dumpster divers – I prefer the term "urban treasure hunter" – and their discoveries. What has been tossed and then eventually recovered from dumpsters is truly amazing. One person reported finding old coins in a dumpster. It's not all that rare, but these particular coins – both gold and silver – had been encapsulated and professionally certified/graded by PCGS – that's Professional Coin Grading Service. Other people have found valuable jewelry, sports cards, antiquarian books, automobilia, old movie posters, vintage calendars and other artifacts. One man scored a $65,000 painting from one dumpster. It had come from an old office building that was being demolished. The painting was sitting right there on top, just waiting for some enterprising art lover to come along and take it home.

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  • White's Treasure Hunting America DVD - White's Metal Detectors

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Comments (1)

As a field archaeologist, I could definitely add to this discussion, but some things are definitely better left unsaid!