Map Your Treasure Finding Success

By Andre' Hinds, Lost Treasure Online Webmaster
From page 72 of the October, 1997 issue of Lost Treasure
Copyright © October, 1997 Lost Treasure, Inc. all rights reserved

One of the hottest commodities in treasure hunting has been maps. When all else fails in the search for a lost cache, treasure hunters always go back to square one. And in every case, that means looking at a map.

Maps haven't always been easy to find. It has often required searching the dusty corners of a library or newspaper morgue. But now that the Internet has come along, many of those maps have moved from their dusty graves to center stage.

One Internet website in particular has moved to the forefront in delivering old maps for free. The Perry-Castaeda Library Map Collection at the University of Texas at Austin (http://www.lib.utexas.edu/Libs/PCL/Map_collection/united_states. html) has a wide range of historical maps of particular interest to United States treasure hunters, including maps of exploration routes from Coronado in 1540 through the territorial growth that ended with Arizona and New Mexico becoming states during this century. There are maps of national parks, military sites and battlefields.

Particularly of interest at this site are the dozens of metropolitan maps from the 1920's showing old fairground sites and other likely places to look for coins. I'm very familiar with Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the map of Tulsa from 1920 shows an old fairground site that was abandoned when a new fairground was constructed many years later. I was completely unfamiliar with this old site.

Of course, a historical map would be useless without having a modern map to compare it to. The Internet really excels here.

There are several websites that let you pinpoint any area in the U.S. (or the world, for that matter) based on the latitude and longitude. Thus, you can use a historical map and overlay the modern version on top of it.

To find maps of in-town areas, all you have to do is type in the address and zip code and these sites will give you a view of it and the surrounding area within a mile radius. From there, you can zoom closer to find the names of all the streets in the vicinity or zoom out to see which major highways are within proximity.

The best sites for finding any modern location are MapQuest (http://www.mapquest.com/), the U.S. Census Bureau (http://tiger.census. gov/cgi-bin/mapbrowse-tbl) and Yahoo (http://maps.yahoo.com/yahoo/). The Census Bureau site also lets you overlay certain modern points of interest, such as parks and highways.

If all you need is a modern road atlas-style map, the best site to use is the one from Avis Rent-A-Car (http://www.avis.com/maps/).

For the prospector who needs a three dimensional look at a likely area, there is an excellent site from Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory (http://fermi. jhuapl.edu/states/states.html). This site presents remarkably beautiful and valuable information about the topographical look of any spot in the United States.

The Hopkins site provides both a shaded, topographical map, as well as an actual satellite view of every state. These maps show remarkable detail and would be of benefit to anybody searching for the Beale treasure in Virginia or the Lost Dutchman mine in Arizona.

Even if these sites don't provide all the maps you need to find treasure, they are certainly a way to arm you with more valuable information than you could have imagined.

FAQ

What if these free map sites aren't enough?

Although there are a lot of map sites that offer free views of locations all over the world, it is likely you will need more help. Luckily, you will find plenty of maps available at a nominal cost directly from the Internet.

The University of California at Berkeley maintains an excellent archive of topographical maps. To get a catalog, go to the web page http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/EART/digital/tour.html.

Of course, the largest collection of for-pay maps is available from the U.S. Geological Survey. See their web page at http://mapping.usgs.gov/esic/to_order.html for more information.