Out of the Box Research Strategies to Find New Places to Metal Detect

Thorough research is key to uncovering valuable finds with metal detectors. As the hobby grows in popularity, the challenge increases due to trends like fewer people wearing jewelry, less cash being carried, and the development of older areas. Therefore, metal detectorists must adopt more creative approaches, moving beyond traditional methods such as examining old maps and aerial photos.

Here’s a compilation of often overlooked yet fruitful research tools to find places to metal detect.

Local Environmental Impact Reports (EIR) and Environmental Impact Statements (EIS)

Many metal detectorists may not be aware of the treasure trove that Environmental Impact Reports (EIR) and Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) represent.

For those unfamiliar, EIRs and EISs are comprehensive documents required under the 1969 National Environmental Policy Act in the United States for certain projects. They offer a detailed overview of a construction project, including in-depth studies on potential environmental impacts, strategies for mitigation, maps, technical specifics of the project area, and an exploration of alternative project routes. These reports aim to educate both the public and decision-makers about the significant environmental implications of proposed projects.

What makes EIRs and EISs particularly valuable for metal detecting enthusiasts is their accessibility online and their sections on historical sites, detailing how these sites might be affected by proposed developments. By searching for the term “historic” within these documents, I’ve uncovered historic locations that aren’t widely known to the public but are recognized by government agencies as historic land. This method opens up new avenues for discovering sites rich with potential finds.

Survey Markers

Survey markers, known by various names such as survey monuments or geodetic marks, offer crucial insights for metal detectorists. When these markers conform to certain criteria, they are cataloged in accessible government databases. The presence of a government-recorded survey marker often indicates the historical significance of a location, which might have been or still is the site of key structures like railways, bridges, or stagecoach stops.

To locate survey markers in the United States, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s website, under the U.S. Department of Commerce and specifically the National Geodetic Survey section, is invaluable. Their user-friendly interactive map https://geodesy.noaa.gov/NGSDataExplorer/ allows for the easy identification of survey markers in any given area. By clicking on a marker, a “Datasheet” link will appear, either on the right side or in a pop-up. Clicking this link opens the “NGS Data Sheet,” which is loaded with information, including the installation date of the marker and its original purpose. Note that loading the “NGS Data Sheet” may take some time; the page will initially appear blank before the information is displayed, requiring a bit of patience.

Real Estate Sites Such As Zillow

Online mapping platforms that enable searches by year are invaluable, though many metal detectorists may not instantly consider sites like Zillow as helpful resources. However, with just a few clicks on Zillow, a metal detectorist can effortlessly locate older urban areas, pinpointing parks and curb strips that are likely hotspots for discovering vintage coins and relics. For detailed guidance on how to utilize Zillow for uncovering historical parks perfect for metal detecting, I recommend consulting the article titled “How to Find Older Parks to Metal Detect Using Zillow.” In this article, I provide a thorough walkthrough on how to navigate Zillow effectively, complete with screenshots.

Modern Day Photographs

The unparalleled worth of photography stems from its ability to reveal objects and details often overlooked or missed during a quick scan. You have the option to take your own photographs or source them from various public and private entities.

For instance, beach metal detecting enthusiasts can utilize Instagram or other social media platforms to monitor beach erosion, observe the sand’s grain size, and watch how both children and adults enjoy the beach. This insight provides a clear idea of where people tend to play, swim, and relax, which can be invaluable for beach metal detecting.

For relic metal detectorists browsing local social media and local photos exhibits for outdoor photos,, even though photos are modern, there could be hints of old in the photo, from benches, walls, gates, fences, or buildings. This could lead to finding new but older paths, curb strips, parks, or curb strips that could have older coins and relics.


Listening to local historical and crime podcasts can offer unique insights into lesser-known locations ripe for exploration by metal detectorists. These podcasts often highlight areas that, although overlooked by many, could be teeming with valuable finds. Paying attention to these stories not only enriches one’s understanding of the local area’s history and lesser-known events but also provides valuable tips on potential hotspots that other metal detectorists might not have considered. In crime podcasts, take note of where evidence was discovered outdoors. For historical podcasts, focus on the mention of paths, roads, or places where people historically engaged in leisure activities, such as picnics, camps, dance halls, concerts, and so forth.

Year Books & Prom Photo Spots

School yearbooks are frequently filled with photographs captured by young, aspiring photographers. These yearbooks can serve as a valuable resource for identifying potential metal detecting sites. Pay close attention to the locations of outdoor group photographs and make an effort to pinpoint those specific spots to detect. 

Yearbooks can often be discovered at local libraries, second-hand stores, and markets within the book sections. If locating yearbooks proves challenging, consider reaching out to local parents or photographers who have experience with graduates, or those who specialize in outdoor promotional photography for graduates. It’s important to gather as many precise details as possible, such as the specific fence or tree the subjects lined up against, and where they parked their cars. This information can help trace the paths they took to and from the photo shoot location, as well as the spots where they prepared for photos, providing valuable insights for your search. 

Bulletin Boards

Many of us are familiar with local social media groups and pages as platforms for sharing and discovering local activities and events. Yet, the traditional bulletin boards located in laundromats, stores, community centers, churches, hospitals, and various public spaces frequently go unnoticed.

These bulletin boards still serve as a hub for posting notices about lost items. For recovery specialists and ring finders, regularly visiting these boards can lead to connecting with people who need recoveries. To extend your services, why not place your own ad, such as “Lost an Item? I Have a Detector and Will Travel,” on these free bulletin boards?

Bulletin boards also serve as an excellent resource for gathering contact information to get metal detecting permisions. For example, listings for rental homes often include contact details for landlords or property management companies. This presents an opportunity to reach out and seek permission for metal detecting on their properties. Additionally, items for sale might feature photos taken outdoors, providing a glimpse of properties in the background that could be perfect locations for metal detecting.

Visitor Centers, Hotels and Motel Lobbies

They’ll typically feature a literature rack filled with free brochures detailing various vacation and tourist destinations. Additionally, many host art exhibits showcasing local cityscapes and landscapes. By perusing these brochures and engaging with the front desk staff, as well as exploring any displayed paintings or photographs, you can uncover new locations for metal detecting. Visiting smaller or boutique hotels can be particularly rewarding, especially if you establish a rapport with the staff. If you’re a recovery specialist or a ring finder, make sure to leave your business card with them. This allows the hotel staff to share your information with guests who have lost items and are in need of assistance in retrieving them.


In conclusion, as metal detecting evolves into an increasingly popular hobby, the quest for undiscovered treasures demands more inventive research strategies. This article has illuminated a variety of unconventional yet promising sources—from Environmental Impact Reports and modern photographs to podcasts, yearbooks, and even real estate websites like Zillow. Each offers a unique avenue for identifying potential metal detecting sites that might otherwise remain hidden from the mainstream treasure-seeking community.

Embracing these out-of-the-box research methods not only broadens the scope of exploration but also deepens the understanding and appreciation of the historical and environmental context of each search area. As we continue to adapt to the changing landscapes and societal trends, these innovative approaches ensure that the thrill of discovery remains alive for both novice and seasoned metal detectorists alike. Whether it’s through examining the past through EIRs and EISs, capturing the essence of the present in photographs, or harnessing the power of digital platforms, the future of metal detecting is ripe with potential for those willing to look beyond the surface. Remember, the next great find is just a piece of diligent research away.

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