Metal Detecting in Wisconsin (Starts Here)

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Cory Haasnoot

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Metal detecting can be a fun and lucrative pastime no matter what state of the Union you find yourself in. You are here I presume because you plan metal detecting in Wisconsin and you would like to learn the laws about metal detecting in this state and find out some of the best places to metal detect.

In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about metal detecting in Wisconsin. We will discuss the metal detecting laws that pertain to Wisconsin plus what the best metal detector is to use while metal detecting in this state. You will also learn of some of the best places to metal detect and some of the lost treasures that are awaiting discovery in Wisconsin.

If you plan on vacationing in Wisconsin and treasure hunting here I have provided a list of some of the best places to stay while in Wisconsin. After reading this article you will know everything you need to know about metal detecting in Wisconsin. So read on if you are planning on doing some treasure hunting in the great state of Wisconsin!

Metal Detecting in Wisconsin: Laws and Regulations

The law of the land that is connected to metal detecting is the Archeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA). This law was enacted in 1979 for the protection of Archeological finds. This law states that you will not disturb any known archeological sites on Native and Federal Lands. 

ARPA is enforced in every state of the Union so no matter where you go this law will follow you.

The antiquities act of 1906 is another law signed by President Theodore Rosevelt that says no person shall remove any artifacts that they find from any state or federal land that is more than 100 years old.

If you plan on metal detecting on any private property you will need to get permission from the landowner before doing so. But if you have your own land in Wisconsin you have free reign on whatever you find.

Also, note that State and National Parks are off-limits for metal detecting and treasure hunting as well as Wisconsin state-owned land. There might be a few exceptions here and there so check out the specific rules and regulations of the parks. As long as you follow the rules and laws you will have no problem enjoying your treasure hunt in Wisconsin.

Another thing to consider is how deep you dig in Wisconsin. It is recommended not to dig more than six inches down and if you are digging in areas that are not your own property make sure you cover the hole up and make it look like you were never there.

Is There Gold in Wisconsin?

Black Beach

As a metal detectorist, you are probably wondering if there is gold to be found in Wisconsin? More than likely you won’t strike it rich panning for gold in Wisconsin but place gold can be found in some of Wisconsin’s streams and rivers that were deposited there when the glaciers came through.

Where are the best places to find gold in Wisconsin?

If you plan on doing some gold panning when you are in Wisconsin here is a list of some of the best places to find gold in Wisconsin.

  • The black sand beaches of Lake Superior
  • Rock Elm Creek
  • Black Earth Creek
  • Poplar Creek
  • Plum Creek

You can also find gold with a metal detector. You could find gold coins and gold jewelry with a metal detector. If your focus is on gold detection then I would recommend getting yourself the Garrett AT Gold metal detector. The AT Gold is a powerhouse of a metal detector that’s equipped with all the technology necessary for locating buried gold and you can get one for under $800.

Digging Deeper: Metal Detector Vs. Gold Detector

What Can Be Found Metal Detecting in Wisconsin?

There are a number of items that can be found in metal detecting in Wisconsin. Just like anywhere you can find lost coins and jewelry. Since Wisconsin was and still is a huge farming state you can find parts for old farm equipment if you metal detects on some of the old farmsteads.

You could possibly find old tools and weaponry that early European settlers had left. If you plan on metal detecting underwater you could find old riverboat wrecks in the rivers of Wisconsin. Some of these wrecks might hold valuable cargo on board and are lying on the bottom of a river waiting to be found. The Mississippi River that flows through the west side of Wisconsin would be a great river to do some metal detecting either on the shores of the river or in the river itself.

Digging Deeper: Lost Treasures of Mississippi

What’s The Best Metal Detector to Use in Wisconsin?

So what is the best metal detector for treasure hunting in Wisconsin? The metal detector I recommend no matter what state you find yourself in would be the Garrett AT Pro.

Garrett AT Pro Metal Detector

The Garrett AT Pro has everything on it that you need for a successful day of metal detecting in Wisconsin. The AT stands for All-Terrain so no matter what soil type you find yourself detecting the Garrett AT Pro can get the job done! It has many of the features that you find on more expensive metal detectors. The price is right. You can pick up the Garrett AT Pro for under $600. Not bad when you consider a compatible metal detector worth $1000 or more.

You can check out the full details of the Garrett AT Pro below.

Where Are The Best Places to Metal Detect in Wisconsin?

Third Ward District in Milwaukee
Third Ward District in Milwaukee

There are a number of places that you go to metal detect in Wisconsin. The following is a list of some of the best places to metal detect in Wisconsin.

The Third Ward

The Third Ward along the banks of the Milwaukee Bay. A fire on October 28, 1892, destroyed much of this area. Many artifacts and treasures from this early time can still be found today. This area is now known as the Historic Third Ward and it’s on the National Historic Registry.

You are allowed to metal detect on any public beaches or parking lots in the Third Ward but get permission before hunting on any private property in this or any area.

Bradford Beach

Bradford Beach
Bradford Beach

Another place in the Milwaukee area to metal detect would be Bradford Beach along Lake Michigan. Make sure to time your treasure hunt before so that you avoid crowds of people. Early morning or late night would be the best time to hunt this beach. Metal detecting is off-limits around the lighthouse and golf courses near Bradford Beach.

The Town of Hurley

Hurley, Wisconsin
Hurley, Wisconsin – By User: Crusch22 Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Hurley Wisconsin was once a big mining town with 7,000 residents. Also, gangsters from Chicago once graced this small village and owned many saloons here. There could be treasure from these early time periods awaiting discovery, especially where the old saloons once stood.

One tip I would recommend is talking to the locals before metal detecting in Hurley and getting permission before metal detecting on any private land.

Jacobus Park

Jacobus Park is located in Milwaukee. This park covers 30 acres which is a lot of areas to cover metal detecting. With all the trails and people that visit the park every day you are bound to find something interesting while treasure hunting here.

Bluegill Bay County Park

No permit is needed to metal detect in Bluegill Bay County Park. This park is located in Marathon County on lake Wausau and has 68 acres that you can treasure hunt. Search areas there, such as trails, woods, and beaches. There’s bound to be something of interest to find here.

Big Bay Park

Big Bay Park is another excellent park to do some treasure hunting. This park is located along Lake Michigan. Areas to focus here would be the trails, beaches, and parking lot areas where many people gather on a daily basis.

Racine North Beach

Racine North Beach is one of the more popular beaches in Wisconsin. It’s located along Lake Michigan. Many people from all over come to this beach every day so there are bound to be lost items to be found. If you find something that can be traced back to its rightful owner make sure to do everything in your power to return the item. That’s the ethical way to do things.

Metal Detecting Clubs in Wisconsin

There are two metal detecting clubs in Wisconsin. The first one is Midstate Metal Detector Club. This club is located in the middle of Wisconsin. The other one is called Central Wisconsin Treasure Hunters Club with a membership of over 1,000 treasure seekers. Hit up one of these two clubs and you will find a vast source of information about metal detecting in Wisconsin.

Are There Any Lost Treasures In Wisconsin?

Coins, Knife and an old gun on a treasure map

Are there any lost treasures that can be found in Wisconsin? Yes, there are a number of lost treasures that are awaiting discovery in the great state of Wisconsin. Here are just a few.

Dillingers Suit Case Full of Cash

The most famous lost treasure in Wisconsin is the gangster John Dillinger’s suitcase of cash. John Dillinger spent a lot of time in Wisconsin. On one occasion Dillinger and his gang stayed at the  Littel Bohemia lodge near Manitowish Waters Wisconsin. It is said that he hid a suitcase filled with $210,000 behind the lodge when the FBI stormed the lodge looking for the gang.

The Fort Crawford Treasure

Four saddle bags of gold coins are said to be buried near Fort Crawford along the Mississippi River near Prairie du Chien. Soldiers are said to have buried the coins on the highest bluffs near this fort while they were being attacked by Indians.

The Martha Battaglan Treasure

$8,200 in silver coins is said to be buried near Beaver Lake in Sawyer County Wisconsin.

Lost Treasure of Balsam Lake

$200,000 worth of gold bullion is said to be in a swamp near Balsam Lake Wisconsin.

The R.C. Bennett Treasure

A cache of $40,000 in coins is said to be buried near Eagle River Wisconsin.

The William Wilson Treasure

$91,000 in gold and silver coins is said to be buried on Hermit Island in the Apostle Island chain in Ashland County Wisconsin.

Stockton Island

A cache of gold nuggets and ore is said to be buried on Stockton Island.

York Island

$12,000 in gold coins is said to be buried on York Island.

These are just a few of the many lost treasures of Wisconsin. You can read the full details of these lost treasures and more in the article I wrote on the subject.

Where to Stay When Metal Detecting in Wisconsin

Sign with the word lodge on it and an arrow pointing the way

There are a number of great places to stay when you are treasure-seeking in Wisconsin. Here’s a list of some of the best lodging in the state.

Stout’s Island Lodge

Stout’s Island lodge features 43 rooms with eight cabins to choose from. It was built in 1912 by Frank D. Stout who made his riches in the lumber industry. This 12-acre island is located on Red Cedar Lake in Birchwood Wisconsin. Enjoy the history and beauty of this Wisconsin lodge.

Heidal House Resort and Spa

The original Heidal House was built in 1890 and the resort opened in 1945 and has been a retreat for many ever since. The resort is located on the shores of Green Lake in Green Lake Wisconsin. There are 115 rooms and plenty to do around Green Lake and the Heidal House Resort and Spa.

The Abbey Resort

The Abbey Resort is located on the shores of Lake Geneva. Take your pick at staying in one of their standard rooms or choose one of their two-bedroom condos. Enjoy the beauty that the Lake Geneva area has to offer with a stay at the Abbey Resort.

Treeland Resorts

Treeland Resorts is located near Hayward Wisconsin and is located along the Chippewa River. This resort features 10 motel suites 18 private vacation homes as well as various cabins for rent while you stay in Wisconsin. They also have an RV and camping area for those who enjoy staying closer to nature.

These four are just a tiny portion of the places that you can stay while visiting and treasure hunting in Wisconsin. There are many more to choose from and I know wherever you choose to stay in Wisconsin you will enjoy all the beauty and history that Wisconsin has to offer.

Final Thoughts – Metal Detecting in Wisconsin

Now you are armed with enough information to go metal detecting in Wisconsin. Pick a place to stay, bring along a metal detector or two and enjoy all Wisconsin has to offer in regards to treasure hunting. There’s something for everyone in this great state and I should know I have been a resident of Wisconsin for about 44 years now.

While metal detecting in Wisconsin make sure that you follow all the laws and regulations of the state and ask permission where necessary. Doing these things and always following metal detecting ethics you should have a fun and possible lucrative treasure hunting experience. I hope you enjoyed this article and got some useful information. If you have any questions, comments or you have experience treasure hunting in Wisconsin I would love to hear from you below. Until next time Happy Treasure Hunting!

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Author: Cory Haasnoot

Cory Haasnoot is an author, entrepreneur, metal detecting enthusiast, antique, coin collector, and founder of Treasure Seekr.

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