For metal detecting enthusiasts there are literally thousands of good treasure hunting locations in Texas. Some of my favorite places are old ghost towns in the southwest part of the state, and around old churches and schools anywhere else in the state.
Out in the Big Bend region, the old Terlingua ghost town was once a quicksilver or mercury mining location. There are dozens of abandoned mines and old buildings. You are more likely to find historical objects such as tools, buttons, etc, than money thought. Make sure that you get permission from property owners and return all soil to its place. Dryden TX uses to be a fun place to stop and metal detect, with abandoned property galore and few people who cared if you explored. Much of the old town has been bought up by a local landowner and access has been limited. There’s still plenty of places in West Texas to go metal detecting though as you follow US-90 West.
In South Texas there were a number of small towns that sprang up in the 1900’s along the old SAU&G railroad. Below is an advertisement from an old newspaper about the wintergarden community of Fowlerton. Many of these little towns, like New California, are non existent today. If you can locate them, and get permission from landowners, you may find historical objects. Some of my favorite places for treasure hunting with metal detectors in Texas are around old ruins and buildings in some of the little ghost towns below such as Los Angeles, Woodward, Prince and others.
During the Great Depression there was widely held mistrust of banks. Rural residents often buried a cache of silver or gold somewhere on the property as their “bank”. Often the chicken house was chosen, since the chickens would act as an “alarm” if anyone came near. I have not personally found any caches of gold or silver in this manner but have a metal detecting friend who found over $500 worth of silver dollars by searching around old chicken coops and barns with a metal detector.
I also look around old cattle pens and barnyards for coins and antique objects. Just one note of caution. When metal detecting in old cattle pens beware of needles that were used to vaccinate cattle. Dig carefully with a trowel and wear gloves. While cowboys usually had more jingle in their spurs than in their pockets, you may find the odd coin or pocket knife that fell out into the dust and was lost as hooves trampled it into the earth during a roundup.
Metal Detecting In Padre Island National Seashore
It is against the law, unfortunately, to metal detect in Padre Island National Seashore. On Texas Parks land you must have a valid permit and these are often difficult to obtain. They require that your search be for a specific object or part of an archeological investigation. City park beaches, such as in Rockport Texas, are much more lenient and most are glad to have tourists there, even ones with metal detectors. Use a waterproof model and a scoop for sifting out wet and dry sand when looking for treasure on Texas beaches.
Another good location for metal detecting in Texas are old battlegrounds. You can locate a few of them in the book below. During the war for Texas independence there were a number of skirmishes fought around the state. In these sites you can find musket balls and other historical objects.
The book “Lone Star Nation” describes the location of various battles of the war for Texas independence.
There are all kinds of locations suited for metal detecting in Texas. You may even find a meteorite out west, where rainfall is scarce and less apt to corrode those with iron content. You can get permission to search for meteorites in Texas with metal detectors on ranches out west such as the Woodward Ranch near Alpine Texas.
Old town parking meters. A good spot to look for silver dimes and quarters is around old parking meters. It is often difficult to find a spot where digging is allowed but often coins can be found in the first half inch of earth at the edge of the sidewalk or in cracks around old parking meters. Carry a long tool such as a screwdriver to dig between the expansion joints in concrete sidewalks and return all of the earth you dig to its place once you are done. I’ve found a number of silver coins around the back streets of Austin Texas in this manner.
Texas abounds with great locations for metal detecting and treasure hunting.
Looking For Larger Treasures
One of the best books ever written about lost treasure in Texas is “Coronado’s Children” by J. Frank Dobie. This book has been in print since the 1930’s and has been republished with photos by the University of Texas press. In Coronado’s Children, Dobie writes about such mysterious lost Texas treasures as the Rock Pens treasure, San Cajo hill and Jim Bowie’s lost silver mine. If you are persistent you may be able to obtain permission from private landowners to search for some of these Texas treasures on you own. Good luck and happy hunting! Below you’ll find a link to the book.