TREASURE DIVE SITES
FORGET THE FISH
DIVE FOR FLORIDA GOLD!
You've just stumbled into a lifetime of adventure . . .
Individual Site Files At Bottom of Page -- scroll down
free online book and how-to guide -- scroll down
ãMatt Mattson 1996 -- 2010, all rights reserved
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14K crucifix found in Clermont Chain of Lakes!
14K chain found in Weeki Wachee River! 14K Diamond from Daytona!
LINKS TO INDIVIDUAL TREASURE HUNTING SITES ARE DOWN IN THE MIDDLE OF THIS PAGE -- SCROLL -- IT'S WORTH IT!
The "How To" book is below the site files.
DIVERS, TREASURE HUNTERS, AND ADVENTURERS WORLDWIDE COME TO FLORIDA LOOKING FOR SPANISH SILVER COINS, GIANT FOSSIL SHARKS TEETH,
SHIPWRECKS, AND GOLD JEWELRY
NOW YOU CAN TOO!
IN ONE SITE, YOU HAVE THE BEST PLACES TO LOOK, LAID OUT WITH AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHY, MAPS, GPS COORDINATES, DESCRIPTIONS, AND BACKED UP BY SOLID RESEARCH, SO YOU CAN ZERO IN ANDSCORE!
MAPS & BOOKS FOR THE SERIOUS HUNTER
If you want a shirt -- please order only from links on this page or treasuresites.com -- the links from the NW, NE, etc., site files below are old (1996 vintage).
NORTHWEST FLORIDA SITE FILES
NORTH FLORIDA SITE FILES
NORTHEAST FLORIDA SITE FILES
WEST CENTRAL FLORIDA SITE FILES
CENTRAL FLORIDA SITE FILES
EAST CENTRAL FLORIDA SITE FILES
SOUTHWEST FLORIDA SITE FILES
SOUTHEAST FLORIDA SITE FILES
SOUTH FLORIDA SITE FILES
FLORIDA KEYS SITE FILES
SHIPWRECK SITE FILES
FOSSIL SITE FILES
1715 GALLEON WRECK-SITES PINPOINTED WITH GPS CO-ORDINATES & THE TREASURE LEASE SYSTEM TO LEGALY WORK THEM EXPLAINED FULLY IN THE SOUTHEAST SITE SECTION! A WHOLE TREASURE FLEET FOUND -- THAT YOU CAN WORK LEGALLY!
14K Gold Bracelet and Pendant found at West Beach -- Central Florida Sites
A LISTING OF ALL SPRINGS IN FLORIDA!
(spring name, county, GPS coordinate, nearest community)
the entire "how to book," "Golden Opportunities" is below this listing.
ADAMS SPRING : spring : Hamilton : 302554N 0831152W : Ellaville
ALLEN SPRING : spring : Jefferson : 302050N 0835834W : Wacissa
ANDERSON SPRING : spring : Suwannee : 302112N 0831121W : Falmouth
APOPKA SPRINGS : spring : Lake : 283400N 0814044W : Clermont East
ATLANTIC CAMP GROUND SPRING : spring : Taylor : 300403N 0833313W : Perry
AUCILLA SPRING : spring : Jefferson : 302025N 0835926W : Wacissa
BAPTIZING SPRING : spring : Suwannee : 300802N 0830803W : Dowling Park
BARREL SPRING : spring : Orange : 284240N 0812818W : Forest City
BEAR SPRING : spring : Lake : 283903N 0814300W : Astatula
BEECHER SPRING : spring : Putnam : 292654N 0813848W : Welaka
BELL SPRINGS : spring : Columbia : 301943N 0824116W : White Springs East
BELL SPRINGS : spring : Gilchrist : 293546N 0825623W : Fanning Springs
BIG BLUE SPRING : spring : Jefferson : 301939N 0835905W : Wacissa
BIG SPRING : spring : Levy : 290658N 0823833W : Yankeetown
BLUE HOT SPRING : spring : Jackson : 304913N 0851437W : Marianna
BLUE SPRING : spring : Holmes : 305103N 0855309W : Prosperity
BLUE SPRING : spring : Jackson : 303703N 0845512W : Rock Bluff
BLUE SPRING : spring : Jackson : 304724N 0850825W : Marianna
BLUE SPRING : spring : Lafayette : 300734N 0831334W : Dowling Park
BLUE SPRING : spring : Okaloosa : 303845N 0862707W : Spencer Flats
BLUE SPRINGS : spring : Gilchrist : 294947N 0824058W : High Springs SW
BLUE SPRINGS : spring : Lake : 284454N 0814940W : Howey In The Hills
BLUE SPRINGS : spring : Levy : 292702N 0824156W : Bronson
BLUE SPRINGS : spring : Madison : 302850N 0831440W : Ellaville
BLUE SPRINGS : spring : Marion : 293050N 0815123W : Rodman
BLUE SPRINGS : spring : Volusia : 285648N 0812013W : Orange City
BONNET SPRING : spring : Suwannee : 300727N 0830816W : Mayo
BUCKHORN SPRING : spring : Hillsborough : 275320N 0821810W : Brandon
BUGG SPRING : spring : Lake : 284505N 0815408W : Leesburg West
CARLTON SPRING : spring : Taylor : 300329N 0833514W : Perry
CASSIDY SPRING : spring : Jefferson : 301958N 0835921W : Wacissa
CAVE SPRING : spring : Jackson : 304432N 0851702W : Kynesville
CHARLES SPRING : spring : Suwannee : 301001N 0831350W : Dowling Park
CLIFTON SPRINGS : spring : Seminole : 284154N 0811412W : Oviedo
COLUMBIA SPRING : spring : Columbia : 295115N 0823646W : High Springs
CONVICT SPRING : spring : Lafayette : 300517N 0830546W : Mayo SE
CRYSTAL SPRING : spring : Citrus : 285325N 0823533W : Crystal River
DANIEL SPRINGS : spring : Jackson : 305652N 0851855W : Sills
DROTY SPRING : spring : Lake : 284940N 0813038W : Sorrento
FALMOUTH SPRING : spring : Suwannee : 302141N 0830806W : Falmouth
FANNING SPRINGS : spring : Levy : 293510N 0825606W : Fanning Springs
FERN HAMMOCK SPRINGS : spring : Marion : 291100N 0814228W : Juniper Springs
FLETCHER SPRING : spring : Lafayette : 295050N 0825340W : Hatchbend
GADSEN SPRING : spring : Jackson : 304208N 0851717W : Kynesville
GINNIE SPRING : spring : Gilchrist : 295009N 0824200W : High Springs SW
GUARANTO SPRING : spring : Dixie : 294646N 0825624W : Hatchbend
GUM SPRINGS : spring : Sumter : 285732N 0821351W : Lake Panasoffkee NW
HART SPRINGS : spring : Gilchrist : 294030N 0825705W : Wannee
HEILBRONN SPRING : spring : Bradford : 300124N 0820922W : Raiford
HOMOSASSA SPRINGS : spring : Citrus : 284757N 0823516W : Homosassa
HORN SPRING : spring : Levy : 301905N 0840746W : Woodville
HORNSBY SPRING : spring : Alachua : 295100N 0823538W : High Springs
HORSEHEAD SPRING : spring : Jefferson : 302040N 0835941W : Wacissa
ICHETUCKNEE SPRINGS : spring : Suwannee : 295901N 0824543W : Hildreth
IRON SPRING : spring : Lafayette : 294939N 0831827W : Clara
JACKSON SPRING : spring : Holmes : 304241N 0855540W : Ponce De Leon
JULY SPRING : spring : Columbia : 295009N 0824146W : High Springs SW
JUNIPER SPRINGS : spring : Marion : 291101N 0814244W : Juniper Springs
LILLY SPRING : spring : Gilchrist : 294945N 0823941W : High Springs SW
LITHIA SPRINGS : spring : Hillsborough : 275200N 0821352W : Lithia
LITTLE BLUE SPRING : spring : Jefferson : 301948N 0835919W : Wacissa
LITTLE RIVER SPRINGS : spring : Suwannee : 295948N 0825757W : Branford
LITTLE SPRING : spring : Levy : 290642N 0823841W : Yankeetown
LIVINGSTONS SPRINGS : spring : Madison : 302906N 0832438W : Madison
LOUISA SPRING : spring : Hamilton : 302040N 0824946W : White Springs West
LUMBER CAMP SPRINGS : spring : Gilchrist : 294227N 0825607W : Wannee
MAGNESIA SPRINGS : spring : Alachua : 293459N 0820858W : Rochelle
MANATEE SPRINGS : spring : Levy : 292924N 0825838W : Manatee Springs
MEARSON SPRING : spring : Lafayette : 300227N 0830131W : Mayo SE
MILL POND SPRING : spring : Jackson : 304215N 0851826W : Kynesville
MORGANS SPRING : spring : Hamilton : 302512N 0831226W : Ellaville
MORRISON SPRING : spring : Walton : 303928N 0855415W : Ponce De Leon
MUD RIVER SPRING : spring : Hernando : 283246N 0823733W : Bayport
MUD SPRING : spring : Putnam : 292733N 0813946W : Welaka
NATURAL BRIDGE SPRING : spring : Levy : 301705N 0840850W : Woodville
NEWPORT SPRING : spring : Wakulla : 301244N 0841040W : Saint Marks
ORANGE GROVE SPRING : spring : Suwannee : 300737N 0830752W : Dowling Park
OTTER SPRINGS : spring : Gilchrist : 293839N 0825635W : Wannee
OWENS SPRING : spring : Lafayette : 300245N 0830227W : Mayo SE
PALM SPRINGS : spring : Seminole : 284128N 0812334W : Forest City
PALMA CEIA SPRING : spring : Hillsborough : 275517N 0822917W : Tampa
PEACOCK SPRINGS : spring : Suwannee : 300720N 0830757W : Mayo
PERRY SPRING : spring : Lafayette : 300546N 0831118W : Mayo
POE SPRING : spring : Alachua : 294932N 0823856W : High Springs SW
PONCE DE LEON SPRING : spring : Holmes : 304316N 0855550W : Ponce De Leon
PONCE DE LEON SPRINGS : spring : Volusia : 290803N 0812145W : Lake Dias
PUMP SPRING : spring : Suwannee : 300819N 0830808W : Dowling Park
RAINBOW SPRINGS : spring : Marion : 290608N 0822614W : Dunnellon
RHODES SPRINGS : spring : Leon : 301650N 0843854W : Woodville
RHODES SPRINGS : spring : Levy : 301651N 0840903W : Woodville
RIVERSINK SPRING : spring : Wakulla : 301634N 0842028W : Lake Munson
ROCK BLUFF SPRING : spring : Gilchrist : 294756N 0825508W : Hatchbend
ROCK SPRING : spring : Marion : 290707N 0822258W : Dunnellon
ROCK SPRINGS : spring : Orange : 284522N 0813006W : Sorrento
ROYAL SPRINGS : spring : Suwannee : 300500N 0830430W : Mayo SE
RUNNING SPRINGS : spring : Suwannee : 300616N 0830656W : Mayo SE
SAGE SPRING : spring : Pinellas : 280545N 0824649W : Dunedin
SANLANDO SPRINGS : spring : Seminole : 284122N 0812344W : Forest City
SILVER GLENN SPRINGS : spring : Marion : 291446N 0813837W : Juniper Springs
SILVER SPRINGS : spring : Marion : 291245N 0820316W : Ocala East
SINAI SPRING : spring : Jackson : 303952N 0845436W : Sneads
STEINHATCHEE SPRING : spring : Lafayette : 295027N 0831827W : Clara
SULPHUR SPRING : spring : Levy : 290143N 0824107W : Yankeetown
SULPHUR SPRING : spring : Orange : 284611N 0813034W : Sorrento
SULPHUR SPRINGS : spring : Hillsborough : 280112N 0822703W : Sulphur Springs
SUN SPRINGS : spring : Gilchrist : 294216N 0825600W : Wannee
SUWANACOOCHEE SPRING : spring : Madison : 302310N 0831018W : Ellaville
SWEETWATER SPRINGS : spring : Marion : 291306N 0813934W : Juniper Springs
TANNER SPRINGS : spring : Jackson : 304935N 0851925W : Cottondale East
TELFORD SPRING : spring : Suwannee : 300624N 0830956W : Mayo
THOMAS SPRING : spring : Suwannee : 300843N 0831350W : Dowling Park
THUNDERING SPRING : spring : Holmes : 305514N 0855327W : Hobbs Crossroads (AL)
TROY SPRING : spring : Lafayette : 300020N 0825949W : O'Brien
VORTEX SPRING : spring : Holmes : 304613N 0855655W : Prosperity
WADESBORO SPRINGS : spring : Clay : 300925N 0814321W : Orange Park
WALDO SPRING : spring : Taylor : 300256N 0833746W : Hampton Springs
WALKER SPRING : spring : Suwannee : 300800N 0830750W : Dowling Park
WEAVER SPRINGS : spring : Walton : 305329N 0860646W : Darlington
WEBBVILLE SPRING : spring : Jackson : 305020N 0852003W : Cottondale East
WEEKI WACHEE SPRING : spring : Hernando : 283102N 0823422W : Weeki Wachee Spring
WEKIVA SPRINGS : spring : Seminole : 284246N 0812733W : Forest City
WELAKA SPRINGS : spring : Putnam : 292938N 0814026W : Welaka
WHITE SPRINGS : spring : Jackson : 303750N 0845520W : Sneads
WHITE SPRINGS : spring : Liberty : 302501N 0845508W : Bristol
WHITE SULPHUR SPRING : spring : Columbia : 301947N 0824539W : White Springs West
WITHERINGTON SPRING : spring : Orange : 284352N 0812922W : Forest City
Gold! It's out there waiting for you to find, and not just ounces, there are literally pounds of it here, and with more and more being added every year, it is doubtful the supply will ever end. But where, and what is needed to find it? If you follow along, this book is going to systematically take you through the steps necessary to plan your vacation around locations known for producing gold in the Sunshine State, hunt for it in a proven, systematic manner, and hopefully, take home your share of FLORIDA GOLD!
Where does gold in Florida come from? If you look in any listing of gold producing states, you'll notice Florida absent, yet, it is known that Florida has produced tons of the metal the Indians used to say "drives the white men crazy." Although Florida produces no natural nuggets, gold rains from above the state's waters yearly, like manna from heaven, and this is the gold I'm going to lead you to. Although not natural, Florida nuggets come in extremely large sizes, range the gamut in purity, are easy to spot, and usually come with a precious gem or two attached for good measure. So, if you're tired of looking at fish, grab this book, throw your gear in the car and come find sunshine gold! If you don't, the next person will -- it's just that simple.
HOW TO USE THIS ONLINE GUIDE
This guide is designed for ease of use in finding the highest grade gold and jewelry Florida can produce. In the first few chapters we'll explore the proven methods used to find gold, whether it be in springs, lakes, beaches, or shipwreck searching. Then, we'll take a trip around the state, listing the best sites to find gold, starting with the North Florida panhandle, and ending with the Keys. Finally, for those of you absolutely dedicated to going after the big money (and big headaches), I'll clue you in on the shipwreck locations I believe most promising. It is a bonus to scuba divers that the best places to find gold in Florida are also the best dive locations. So if you're a scuba diver, plan your next dive vacation around the locations that have gold and double your diving adventure! If you're not a scuba diver, look for the locations where you need minimal or no equipment, and search there.
14K crucifix found in Clermont Chain of Lakes
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14K Gold Chain found in Weeki Wachee River
THE GOLD IN FLORIDA
The gold in Florida comes from a variety of sources. As early as 1513, the Spanish were dropping their gold here on the mainland as well as in their well-documented shipwrecks. Although I'm going to touch on shipwreck sites that still produce treasure with some regularity, this is not yet another book solely devoted to the Atocha, or 1715 & 1733 fleet wrecks, although they are included. Yes, there are still Spanish treasure ships to be found, but it takes state of the art equipment to find one, and costs a fortune to mine and protect your interests from the State and Federal Government. So, if you're willing to spend a fortune, and go out and hire the best crew and equipment money can buy, then maybe this book isn't for you. The book is designed for the average person, willing to search with a metal detector or without, with scuba equipment or without, and with a boat or without, in other words: minimal equipment. Nothing more fancy than that. If this describes you, then hang in there partner, your gold is waiting here untouched since the day it was lost, and the next few pages will give the key to it's location. I designed this book for the average person to be able to come here, look for gold, and go back from their vacation with something sparkling to tell the grandkids about, and I hope you'll be well satisfied with the result.
The Spanish dropped tons of gold in Florida, it is true, but most was dropped offshore, and although many will lead you to believe it easily recoverable, sadly, it is not. When the Spanish adopted treasure fleets as the standard mode of transporting their looted finds back to Spain, they used naos (cargo ships) that had a predictable draft (13 -- 18ft. (Marx, 96)), and thus needed a predictable water depth to safely sail. Early on, the Spanish shipping routes were well mapped from information gleaned from previous 16th century explorers, and the directions were very firm about holding to a 200 fathom line off the coast. Sailing directions described the shoaling West Coast as a place to be avoided, except for the entrance to Esperitu Santo (Tampa Bay). Even the fleets that were driven near shore in hurricanes generally wrecked in 17 feet of water, or immediately after crossing reefs that were 17 feet or less, as this was the general ship's draft of the times. If you look at a nautical chart of the Florida coast, you'll soon realize this depth covers an extraordinarily large territory; however, you need not give up all hope of finding that pristine Spanish shipwreck while snorkeling with the kids, because slightly more than 5 percent of the ships in Indies navigation were shipwrecked (Marx 17) and the numbers were enormous -- not until World War II would so many vessels sail back and forth across the Atlantic (Smith, 85). In 1991 I received a mysterious phone call from a gentleman who had seen an article of mine on Civil War shipwrecks and was curious about a shipwreck he believed he had found off Hernando Beach. "What water depth is it in," I asked. "17 feet," he replied. "Is there a large mound of rocks there," I asked. "Yes," he said, "they all look like eggs!" Egg rock ballast has long been known as the hallmark sign of a Spanish shipwreck. We talked for a few minutes longer, and he agreed to meet me at the Hernando Beach boat ramp, so I could go out and confirm or deny the wreck-site. I'm still waiting.
14K Diamond Ring from Daytona Beach
Generally, the Spanish sailed two separate fleets to pick up looted treasures from the Indies (New World) each year. Upon reaching Havana, the fleets would split, with the galleons of the Tierra Firme fleet heading for Columbia, while galleons of the New Spain Fleet (Flota) sailed to Veracruz for loading of products from Mexico City and Chinese goods shipped from the Philippines on the Manila galleons. For the Florida west coast, it is the New Spain Fleet gold that is searched for, as this was the only fleet to sail the northern Gulf route, passing out by way of the Dry Tortugas to rejoin with the Tierra Firme fleet in Havana for the homeward trek. Some of the gold from this fleet is undoubtedly that which is routinely found in Indian mound excavations along the Gulf coast, as it is well known and documented that Indians recovered a large amount of Spanish gold from shipwrecks along both coasts. Upon joining in Havana, the two fleets formed into one and made their way up the treacherous Straits of Florida and would eventually turn towards Bermuda. It was this leg that was particularly dangerous for the Spanish, with the reefs of Florida to one side and the reefs of the Bahamas to the other, with little room for error.
The Spanish also dropped gold in Florida as a result of their adventures and misadventures on the mainland. The 1500's saw Juan Ponce DeLeon claim Florida for Spain in 1513, then lost his life to a native's spear in 1521. Panfilo de Narvaez then stepped in to explore, dropped anchor and ventured inland at Tampa Bay. Only four of his command returned, after a harrowing retreat by raft and on foot, to the safety of Mexico. In 1539, the great warrior Hernando De Soto landed at Tampa, and lost much of his manpower to Florida natives and disease, before eventually losing his own life near the Mississippi River. In 1559, Tristan de Luna brought some 1600 settlers to establish a permanent colony on Pensacola Bay. In two years, it was gone. In 1565, Pedro Menendez De Aviles was sent by Philip II of Spain to destroy the French Fort Caroline (Jacksonville) and founded Saint Augustine. Over the next 200 years, the Spanish attempted colonizing the Indians (with some success), with mission sites along a rough line from Saint Augustine to Tallahassee, and a few to the south along the St. Johns river to roughly Blue Springs, and north along the coast. There were a series of small garrisons set up, the most successful being at St. Marks (south of Tallahassee), Piccolata (across from Palatka), the cow ford (Jacksonville), as well as fully founded forts at St. Augustine and Pensacola. Many of these sites disappeared from history and memory, such as the garrisons around Tampa and Charlotte Harbor, and the mission sites of the Jaega region on the St. Johns River, long before all the northern forts and missions were systematically destroyed in the 1700's by the English, under Governor Ogelthorpe's command. During the Seven Years War (1756 - 63) between Britain and France, the Spanish sided with France and ended up losing Florida to Britain as the result of a complicated peace treaty. The British rule of Florida was relatively short: twenty years; however, during the War of 1812, Britain used Pensacola as a naval base, but ceded Florida back to Spain after losing the war. By 1819 Spain agreed to transfer Florida to the United States, rather than tangle with General Jackson, who had brashly "liberated" it, while chasing Seminole Indians.
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10K St. Petersburg Class Ring found in Lake Minneola
TURMOIL & OPPORTUNITY
Florida in the early 1800's was a war ravaged state, with two major battles being fought along the Withlacoochee River, near Panasoffkee and a host of smaller conflicts, including the slaughter of Major Francis Dade's command at present day Bushnell. A series of log forts were set up throughout the state, and these were systematically abandoned, with some being the nucleus of new towns, as the Seminoles were pushed back toward the Everglades. What would all this history have to do with gold? Just ask the two lads that found practically the entire payroll of 2,300 gold coins meant for troops of Fort Lauderdale, while snorkeling for lobster! It seems the paymaster's boat had overturned at the location in which they were looking for a meal, and instead, they picked up a fortune in gold coins.
During the Civil War, Florida was again the scene of conflict. Captain Dickinson and his cavalry were based at Waldo, and created much havoc for the Union, crisscrossing the state to fight battles, sinking ships in the St. Johns River, and creating confusion in general. Florida was the site of intense blockade running, and the hulks of wrecks can be found along the entire coastline of both coasts. Most were scuttled under pursuit by federal gunboats, and either went down with their cargoes or the money to buy a cargo. Much gold was exchanged in this illicit trade, and undoubtedly, much is still awaiting recovery.
Gold and silver coins were the normal medium of exchange for our early history, and they were traded, gambled, and lost, just as freely as the modern coins in your pocket today, and much remains for the adventurer willing to search for it. As we go on our tour of Florida by region, all of the sites that are known (and the ones suspected) will be pointed out, and common-sense search techniques applied.
GoldNugget Ring found in Rainbow River
Just as the monetary worth of gold the Spanish left along the coast is incalculable, so to is the vast amount of gold dropped each year by people visiting Florida. Since the late 1800's people have been flocking to Florida's springs and beaches for health, sunshine and swimming. They're still coming in droves, and the wealth they leave in the state each year is calculated in billions of dollars!
In the 1800's the popular places for health resorts were the natural springs of North Florida, and palatial hotels were erected around many of them, most notably at White, Suwannee, Sulfur, and Steinhatchee Springs, where their concrete remains can still be seen. Minerals in the water were thought to be healing, and the wealthy and elite of the day spent hours in the spring pools taking "treatments" for ailments, relaxing, frolicking, and just as many do today, losing their jewelry to the water's depths.
Each year, millions of college students descend on state beaches for their spring and summer breaks dripping gold chains, rings, bracelets, and a host of other valuables. The slippery combination of skin, metal, and suntan oil leaves an incalculable amount of gold on the beaches each and every day, adding to the weight of Florida gold waiting for you! Not only do the beaches targets produce gold, so will the smallest backwater streams, lakes, or sinkholes: anywhere there is human recreation or turmoil around water, there is certain to be gold, coins, or artifacts.
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Finding gold will require you to think about the type of water you'll be searching. Gold is heavier than all other materials, and therefore will eventually work its way to bedrock. In a spring, it behaves like syrup on pancakes: it stays on the surface for an instant, then dribbles down and fills the crevices, and finally winds up on the hard plate (bedrock). On sand, wave action works gold down to the limestone or coral layer the instant it is dropped, which is why people often lose their gold jewelry even when they see the object hit the water. Gold will not stay atop a mud layer at all, it will punch right through to the sand layer below, and then start working down. So, be prepared for the bottom conditions you'll face, and plan enough time to search.
1954 Class Ring found in Hunter Spring
I love to hunt springs! Usually, the water is clear, and all that is needed is enough time to sift through the rocks to waiting gold below. Gold rarely sinks right to the bottom of a spring when lost, it usually winds up in the rocks along the spring's borders, pushed there by the up-well of water pressure, and then starts to work its way down along the cracks and crevices to bedrock at the spring's base, and this could take many years. You don't need a metal detector to work a spring, just patience. First, check the walls of the spring for loose rocks, cracks, or any situation that could get you in trouble. After your safety check, start as near the bottom as you can, and hand fan any sand from the bottom, letting the water pressure help you expose the loose bottom rock. Once the bottom rock is exposed, look carefully in the crevices along the spring's sides for any valuables, but be careful in removal, if you slip, they'll likely go right down the spring vent. The normal geologic pattern encountered in a Florida spring is sand over a loose rock layer (rocks from the sides that have fallen in) intermingled with modern coins, then a layer of silver coins intermingled with artifacts, then gold, resting on the bedrock layer. After you have worked the bottom of the spring, search the sides, fanning any loose sand from side pockets (where chains are especially prone to be), and looking carefully in any crevices. A powerful light can help to "shine" gold in crevices. If the spring has straight walls with a high flow, fan off the outside lip too, there may well be valuables that were blown to the outer edges. If all this sounds slow, it is, and it may take many dives to work a spring to its full potential, and the only difference between the successful and the unsuccessful is perseverance.
14K Gold Chain found at West Beach
To work a beach properly requires a metal detector with a large search coil. The larger the coil the better off you are. If the beach has a dock, make your fist pass in line with the dock, and work everything for the first few passes out to 20 feet past the end of the dock. Many scuba divers will work the area immediately below the end of the dock, but people diving or taking a running jump from the dock often land a good 10 feet out, and this is precisely when they loose their jewelry!
For the rest of the beach, start working where the water is about waist level to most folks, and work parallel to the dock. Never try to work parallel with the beach, as big holes will open in your patterns, and the object is to cover the whole beach, in the area specified. The reason to concentrate in the 3 1/2 to 8-ft. water depth is to cover the area beyond the trash line immediately next to the beach. The combination of the big coil and scuba equipment will move you into gold jewelry much faster than you could possibly expect by weeding through all the trash next to the shoreline. When you use the detector on beach sand, put it down hard, so you can see a pattern, then overlap the patterns slightly to get full coverage. Overlapping helps keep your perpendicular alignment too, and in this way, you will miss nothing.
There are some instances when you may want to get out of the water and search the beach proper. The recent hurricanes along the panhandle would be an example. Much of the overlying sand was carried up and over the dune line and deposited on the streets of local towns, leaving the limestone bedrock at the beach exposed in places. Under these conditions, the only thing needed to spot gold is a sharp eye. Of course, looking just after a heavy rain helps, because the surface coating of sand is washed away.
10K Class Ring found in Weeki Wachee River
RIVERS & STREAMS
Searching rivers and streams is not unlike searching springs: it takes a lot of patience. First, you have to know where in the river to search, merely going down the river bottom blind will eventually produce, no doubt, but could also take years of tedious search. To put you on gold in the fastest possible manner, look for these areas in rivers or streams: old bridges; shallow fording sites; rope swings; diving platforms; old nails or remains of boards nailed into trees where diving platforms were; and the remains of old dock sites (look for the posts). It is around these locations that you are most likely to find the yellow metal by patiently fanning down to hardpan or bedrock of the river bottom.
I tend to work a river moving upstream, as this keeps me in clean water as I fan off the surface layer of sand, and it is much easier to keep your head pointed upriver than your legs, as the current tends to spin the diver who works downstream. Usually, unless there is a heavy amount of sand or unusually dark water, there is no need for a metal detector, and it helps to have a free hand to hold on.
14k Emerald Ring from Minneola Beach
Old fording sites are usually found where secondary roads or railroad bridges cross rivers. In the beginning, such sites were found by Indians at the end of game trails, then the Spanish found them at the end of Indian roads, and on and on, until we have the modern bridge spanning a site used for thousands of years - a lot of activity concentrated around a location. Experienced artifact hunters know that fording sites are where Paleo-Indians waded into the river to spear fish and giant tortoise, or ambush mammoths or mastodons, leaving behind spear-points and hide tools, sometimes in number.
Fording sites were also a favored place to hide caches of valuables by citizens and desperadoes of all descriptions, as the ford site was often the only place that could be found again with some reliability in wild Florida. With yellow fever & malaria common in that age, many did not return to claim their cache. Old bottles can usually be found within 100 yards downstream of an old fording site, and some of these can be worth a considerable sum of money (glass gold).
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10K Band from Troy Spring
CAUTIONS & COMMON SENSE
Whenever you work in or around the water here in Florida, you must use a certain amount of caution. There are things in the water here that will eat you, bite you, or poison you, if you fool with them at all. I don't intend to frighten, but when you work in the water, you're stirring up sand, silt, and mud, so visibility decreases. You can easily get cut under these conditions. Now, blood is in the water, and with decreased visibility, just about any critter can mistake you, or a finger, for dinner. Under no circumstance should you work in a lake, or river, at night. There are big lizards down here that can weigh 1000 pounds or more, and none of them are impressed with human swimming abilities. I can't recommend working in salt water at night either. At Alligator reef, in 1995, a diver was diving at night - alone. A few days later his jacket was found with a huge shark bite pattern cut from it - and that is all we know at present! When you approach ladders or swing ropes hanging from trees, look first at the tree and tree trunk. Is there a cottonmouth (poisonous snake) coiled up on the tree limb, or at the trunk? If there is, stay well away! These snakes are aggressive with a capital A! If you're fanning sand from around a reef, is there an eel nearby eyeing your fingers in the decreased visibility? They have notoriously bad eyesight, and could easily misjudge waving fingers for a squid. Paranoid yet?
Unfortunately when working anywhere where modern man has been, you have to look out for trash. Glass bottles, nails, and pull-tabs are a constant threat. In addition, you'll fan up the occasional knife, scissors, and even sharp surgical instruments. How these things get from the operating table into the water I don't know, but they're there, and can give a nasty wound. If you fan up a gun, let authorities know, there's no long procedure involved, and you may just provide the clue to solving a decades old mystery. You may even stumble upon a gangster era tool: it hasn't been long ago that divers found a Duesenberg getaway car in a sinkhole!
Update: 2007! The nutcases at the Division of Historical Resources have rescinded the "Isolated Finds Form" making anyone picking up anything (even a Coke bottle) a criminal! There is now no way for the private citizen to legally report finds or to legally keep finds, or to prevent what you've found in the past being claimed as theft (by the state). Call the Governor and complain today - let's get the Isolated Finds Form back!
Old "Isolated Finds Form" system explained: started in 1996, based on amendments to Florida Chapter 267, in an attempt to reach a compromise with scuba divers, the policy stated that divers would be given title to finds they recovered if: the diver would fill out a simple form giving the date and location of the find, enclosing a map of the location (now the state has a site - you have an individual find), and the state would have 90 days to notify the owner if the state A) withed to retain ownership or B) wished to further study the artifact, or C) if no notice was given, ownership automatically went to the diver. The British system (which we should all demand IMO): the state can claim ownership (and does) of all historical finds, but must get 3 appraisals and pay the finder for the find. Result: thousands of early Roman & Viking finds and sites reported and collectors working with the government instead of underground. We can do better in America, and should.
Artifacts are a touchy and often bewildering subject here in Florida, where it seems every other scuba shop has an endless array of spearheads and pottery prominently on display, or offer routine "artifact dive trips," while the state's historical division threatens to prosecute anyone so much as looking at whatever it is they define as an artifact. So far as I can tell, the definition of artifact or junk seems to be connected with monetary value. I find it strange, that in a state where miles of land are bulldozed, paved or platted for housing each and every day, the state would direct resources towards the prosecution of a citizen picking up an arrowhead -- but they do. The federal government passed laws to prevent the looting of Indian graves (which I support) but now seems to take the narrow view that any artifact in your possession must mean you've looted a grave somewhere, so they can take your car, search your house, break you financially (which I don't support), and put you in jail on felony charges. One has to wonder where it will all end. You should be aware, that the archeological community, in general, does not view the public as being responsible enough to report finds, and, in an us and them mentality, have painted anyone with an artifact as a thief! Speaking in doublespeak, about being in a "race" with treasure hunters to find the "best" finds before they are "destroyed" by "looting," and about how the public's property must be "protected," the archeological community convinced the Florida legislators that something must be done, so, in this air of archeological paranoia, Florida enacted a bureaucratic law that even bans metal detecting on state lands. So whatever is in the ground is safe to rust to nothing. Since Florida claims all submerged lands, and everything between the sea and high tide line as its own (another bureaucratic law), this law was a coup for the archeologist, effectively making anyone picking up anything a criminal, the deciding issue being selective enforcement (the founding fathers just rolled over again).
If you think the above has nothing to do with you, think again, because Florida is actively buying property around springs and rivers in the interests of "protection," and one of the first things that always goes up after a state purchase is the don't sign: don't trespass; don't camp; don't fish; don't hunt; don't dive. We are losing our best and our traditional diving sites to the bureaucrats, and for the most part, without a whimper. It never ceases to amaze me that the day before the State takes over a spring site, people are swimming, diving, hanging on rope swings, and camping around the spring as they have traditionally done since time immemorial, and the day after, none of these activities are allowed because the State can't manage them. A dirty little secret of Florida Government is they are selling the water rights to bottle water companies. So the pipe goes in, and you lose your rights to swim. You can make a difference by writing a letter of complaint to the Florida Governor, at: Governor Jeb Bush, Office of the Governor; The Capitol; Tallahassee, Fl 32399 - 0001. You do count, because it is your tourist dollars that run this state, so speak up! You have the only voice our politicians will listen to - tourist dollars. I am also amazed that scuba equipment manufacturers and dive shops have not allied to stop diver discrimination on State properties, because each area closed to diving ultimately means a loss in sales, and when the best sites are closed, people sure don't need dive equipment.
My proposed changes to the metal detector & artifact diving laws contained in FS 267:
1. Instead of the state dictating that all areas are off limits except those areas the state allows for supervised collection I propose that --
At least the above would be enforceable, the rules would be clear to the collector and the enforcement agencies, and it would be fair.
The Governor needs to hear from a couple of million divers on this subject! Charlie Christ phone: 850-487-7146
Governor Charlie Crist, The Capitol, Tallahassee, Fl., 32399-0001,
Email link atCharlie Crist:, use it to voice your concerns on diving restrictions in the State of Florida! The Governor & others need to know you care. Keep up the pressure, right now the state is buying up property and looking at closing the upper Weeki Wachee River by denying access to boaters (you have to use a boat to transport your equipment since they closed upper river roads)! The Chassahowitzka River will be next.
Write! Call! Help!
TOGETHER WE CAN BEAT THE BUREAUCRATS!
WHAT TO BRING FOR FOSSIL SITES
For fossil sites: bring a screen (a metal colander works fine) and work it into the sand, shake it out, pick out the shark's teeth etc. For large fossils (mastodon, giant sloth): bring your dive gear, a raft (inner tubes) or lift bags (no joke). Your wetsuit should be thick, gloves are recommended, and you'll probably find yourself snorkeling more than diving (diving isn't always necessary for fossils). Fossil sites are often remote, so camping gear helps, as some fossils are extremely large and always seem to take longer to get out than planned.
GOLD Rose pin found beneath rope swing on Rainbow River
GoldMask found in Hunter's Spring
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INDEX OF SITES IN OTHER STATES
As you can imagine, while researching material for Florida site files, I come across tons of material on sites in other states. You should also be aware that I (Matt Mattson) was victim of a life-altering flood in 1993, and much of my source material for a massive worldwide book on treasure was lost, so, presented here in no particular order except as and when I come across it, are sites and notes on other states and countries. Some are dive locations, others are not. Enjoy!
Near the mouth of the Bearing Straights, ships Nassau, Brunswick, Hillman, Waverly, Martha 2nd, Congress 2nd, Favorite, and Covington, are sunk en-masse.
January 25, 1865 Off Melbourne, barks Alina, Godfrey, Edward, Delphine, schooners Charter Oak, Lizzie M. Stacey, and brigantine Susan are sunk by the CSS privateer Shenandoah.
October 7, 1862 steamer Blanch (formerly CSS General Rusk) is burned within 100 yards of the entrance to Marianao Creek, and 300 yards from the beach.
Matt Mattson: Email to:firstname.lastname@example.org
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