Hunters scour Florida for lost treasure

Hunters scour Florida for lost treasure

For many Floridians, treasure is found in the weather, sun and sand. For others, the word "treasure" holds true meaning.

If you are willing to put in a little bit of work, there's a wealth of information in what lies just beneath the surface.

Tales of treasure run deep in Florida's history.  While they may seem like nothing more than fairy tales, in Florida there is a truth to the talk.

This summer, salvage companies uncovered millions of dollars worth of gold off the Treasure Coast .  While these types of finds are reserved for the professionals, other finds are for you to recover.

"I've always been a lover of history. Anything that I can hold in my hand," said Ed Tisdale of Cape Coral, Fla.

He and his friend Norman Jones have spent decades searching Southwest Florida beaches with their metal detectors.

With half-a-century of metal detecting, you can see them any given day on the hunt.

"What is the allure of combing these beaches?" asked FOX 4 anchor Kelli Dame.

"Well, it's never knowing what you're going to find," replied Jones. "You're going to pick up a few nickles, dimes and pennies.  But to be quite honest, it's the rings, it's the jewelry, it's all here because people leave it behind."

"I've found a lot of jewelry at Fort Myers, Fort Myers Beach during Spring Break," said Tisdale. "Oh my God, it's unbelievable."

Jewelry and coins are pretty much the gold standard when it comes to hunting on Florida's coastline. How much is here?

The men estimate treasure to be in the millions.

You won't find these hunters looking to cash in. Tisdale and Jones keep their valuables in safety deposit boxes so they can hold on to the history and share it with others.

In fact, as part of the Cape Coral Police Department's "Do the Right Thing" program, Jones and Tisdale charge a $25 fee to help people recover lost items. They then donate that fee to the department for them to pass on to kids in the area doing remarkable things.

"I know that during that program, to date, we've easily recovered well over half a million dollars of lost jewelry," Tisdale said.

The tales of treasure aren't just limited to the seas. In fact, in Hendry County, rumor has it that where two bodies of water meet, a Confederate paymaster hid hundreds of thousands of dollars in gold. The question is, do you believe it?

"I doubt it," said Butch Wilson, director of the Clewiston Museum. Wilson lives and breathes history. While this particular story may not hold much merit to him, there are plenty that do.

"Gold was found in South Bay, gold was found in Belle Glade, gold has been found all over Hendry County," said Wilson.

Hundreds of years ago, Florida Native-American had run-ins with ships along the coast. They acquired gold, traded it with other tribes and then spread the wealth from one corner of Florida to the next.

"It's extraordinary.  The gold and silver that has been lost and is waiting to be recovered and it's just a matter of the right person coming along and finding it, it's everywhere," said Wilson.

That lucky person to find it may be you.

If you plan to search for treasure, there are a few things to keep in mind that these treasure hunters and history lovers want you to know.

Most land is owned by someone or something. You should always ask for the landowners' permission before you search their property for treasure.

If the treasure is to be found in Indian mounds around the state, you are out of luck, because those are protected by law and carry a heavy prison sentence if you violate the rules.

In most parts of the state, on public beaches, you have the right to detect on the sand and in water. The exceptions include parts of the east coast. If you're unsure, check before you go.

Any questions, you can always check out Ed Tisdale's book Metal Detecting for Beginners.

Copyright 2015 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.