Sunday, September 8, 2013

9/8/13 Report - The Iron Clad Gun Ship Cairo and Gold Coin Found on Treasure Coast Beach

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

NPS photo.  See link below.

I often encourage creativity.  I enjoy exploring new locations and new ideas.  While looking at an article in Popular Archaeology about the discovery of the Cairo, a Civil War iron clad gun boat discovered in the Yazoo River back in the 1950s, I noticed this one paragraph in particular.

The Cairo lay on the bottom of the Yazoo River for nearly one hundred years before discovery.  Edwin Bearss, (Vicksburg National Military Park historian), Don Jacks and Warren Grabau discovered the wreck.  “The three men had conducted research utilizing maps and charts of the area and had also talked with residents who told them that at time, when the river level was low, the pilot house could be seen just above the river’s surface. In 1952, armed with a compass and a small boat, the three men began to search for the sunken ironclad.”[xv]   Instead of using the compass to provide direction of travel, the men used it as a magnetometer.  They laid the compass on the bottom of their boat.  When they would pass over any concentration of metal; the needle would fluctuate and be unstable.  After finally finding such a large concentration and achieving further evidence by the use of metal probes, the Cairo was found in 36 feet of water.[xvi]   The wreck was raised by a private group of citizens who called their organization Operation Cairo.  The members of this group donated their time, money, and equipment to raise and preserve the ironclad and and its artifacts.”

There are always ways (plural) to get things done.  I thought this use of a compass as a magnetometer was interesting.  It is amazing what people could accomplish without all of our modern technology.  When you look at cathedrals from the Middle Ages or the pyramids of Egypt, you have to marvel at how people are always able to find ways to accomplish the things that are most important to them.

The article about the Cairo talks a lot about how they should have done things.  You can always say how things could have possibly been done better after the fact.  That is no surprise to anyone.  But those early efforts paved the way for future efforts and techniques and the development of the field of marine archaeology.  And who knows what would have happened to the Cairo if it wasn't recovered when it was?  Or how many more years would have elapsed before the lessons were learned?

Here is the link if you want to read more about the Cairo and its recovery.

And here is a link to the Cairo Museum where you can find more pictures of artifacts that were protected by the river mud.

It is getting close to the time of year when the snow birds start coming back and more people start detecting the Treasure Coast beaches.  The weather will be cooling down and maybe the poor summer beach conditions will start to change some.

The National Hurricane Center is still showing the remnants of Gabrielle having a 20% chance of becoming a cyclone.   There is also a new area over by Africa with a 60% chance of becoming a cyclone.

National Hurricane Center Map.

This has been a big year for gold discoveries from the 1715 wreck sites.  Maybe the beaches will have something for us this winter.  Only time will tell.

In the mean time, fossils are regularly being discovered on some beaches, but not in real high numbers.  Also modern jewelry, though not in large quantities.

My experiment to illustrate the effect of the shape of an object on how fast it sinks into beach sand hasn't been conducted yet.  I had to redesign my materials.

Reflecting on the 2013 year so far, brings up a few thoughts besides the 1715 gold discoveries and lack of storms.  Hurricane season isn't over though.   I'm hoping we don't get a hurricane, but it is not unusual to get hurricanes in September. 

We often get a nice storm that results in old beach finds in October or November.   I think it was 2008 when we had a good October storm that turned up a good number of finds.   November has often been a good month too.

Over the years, I'd say that November through February have been my best months for old Treasure Coast finds.  The 1984 Thanksgiving storm is legendary in treasure lore.  My personal very best day on the Treasure Coast was in December one year.  That was a really cold day. 

For serious detectorists I always recommend having more than one good working detector.  You never know when you might develop equipment problems and it seems it always happens when you least want it to happen.  So have a good back-up ready.

Back to reflections on this year so far.  There have been some big losses this year too.   Remember that this life doesn't go on forever and gold and silver are not the most important things.

One thing I was reminded of this year by a recent story is how infrequently people reward good deeds.  Don't do good deeds for the reward.  It probably won't happen - at least not how you expect.  In the long term it does pay off in other ways.

1945 Mounted 2.5 Peso Gold Coin Find
With all the gold coins being found in the water this year, you should know that gold coins have been found on the beach as well.  They aren't the 1715 gold coins, but gold coins nonetheless, if you are willing to settle.  Here is one such example.

From my experience Dos Pesos gold coins are the most commonly mounted gold coins that you will find.  They pop up every once in a while.  Perhaps because they aren't real expensive.  And maybe they are a good size for mounting.  I think the two and a half peso is a little more unusual, again, I'm just going from my experience.

You can find all kinds of mounted coins in jewelry.  And as far as gold coins go, on the beach it is much easier to find one that has been mounted.  Again, I'm just going from my experience.

I have no problem with a mounted coin.  In fact, I find it handy.

It is sort of interesting when you are looking for old shipwreck stuff to manage to pick up some consolation like this.

I don't expect any big change in Treasure Coast beach detecting conditions any time soon.  Just a little increase in the surf this coming week.  And watch out for those systems in the Atlantic, but they are a ways off yet.

Happy hunting,