Thursday, November 15, 2012

Beach Finds

Recently a reader asked this question: "To the point of beachcombing, metal detectors are not permitted anywhere on the ocean beaches of Ocracoke, are they?"

The answer is no. Metal detectors are prohibited in all US National Parks.

A related question was: "Separately, aside from the stories of salvaged cargo from wrecks over the years, any anecdotes you have to share (yours or from others) re. particularly noteworthy beach finds?"

I have heard or seen evidence of the following being found on the beach within the last 100 or so years: hundreds of bunches of bananas, top hats, gold coins, Indian arrowheads, dozens of shoes (originally destined for Jim Jones' People's Temple in Guyana), fruits and vegetables (apples, onions, and oranges), and thousands of bags of Doritos in 2006 (

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke and the War of 1812. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous7:26 AM


    Thanks for the feedback. The article you posted--and especially the reader comments in response to it--were especially entertaining.

    All of it together rather begs further questions that I'd venture relate to Ocracoke, because of its history--issues of maritime law in such instances, rights of salvage, and (as some of the readers back in 2006 noted re. the Doritos flotsam) opinions about those who would engage in such behavior--some call it salvaging lost goods, others, beach cleanup, others, looting.

    Just as we've seen in comments on your blog, Philip, "It takes all kinds."

    To the point of maritime salvage, would you venture to put into words an Ocracoke perspective on the matter?

    Always an enjoyable read here, and appreciate your indulgence of such inquiries.

    Thanks, as always.

  2. Anonymous9:19 AM

    I'm curious ... what is the reasoning behind the metal detector ban?

  3. Anon 7:26 -- look for my answer in tomorrow's blog.

    Anon 9:19 -- I can't speak for the NPS, but I am fairly confident that there are at least two reasons:
    1. The NPS probably does not want individuals removing historic artifacts from the parks (arrowheads, bullets, coins, etc.), and
    2. The NPS probably does not want to deal with holes dug all over the parks (this would be a significant problem, e.g. in battlefields).

  4. Anonymous11:26 AM

    Who is Jim Jones and why did he have a temple? the shoes where they new or used. how did you know the shoes were bound to the temple?

  5. Anonymous11:29 AM

    Wow folks in Marretta Georgia need to get their act together a "treasure trove" circa 1860s is thought to be in that vicinity Hole-y Cow

  6. Here is the web address for the Wikipedia article about Jim Jones:

    The shoes were new. At least one crate washed up addressed to the People's Temple.

    There were notices in the PO from people who had found one shoe and were looking for the matching shoe!

  7. Anonymous1:36 AM

    Huh. in a situation such as that if there was an address is is not the honorable thing to do-- attempt to forward the item to the party it is addressed to be sent??? was it US Mail that "washed " up on shore?? this is all very curious--- are there maritime laws offering direction regarding "unclaimed" "lost" property due to voyage calamities?? if you consider these questions much obliged.

  8. Anon 1:36, I am guessing you are referring to the shoes and/or the Doritos. I am not sure what "salvage laws" are in effect, but the water-logged shoes were strewn up and down the beach...and I'm pretty sure all of the people at the People's Temple were already dead when the shoes washed up. Anyway, I don't think anyone would have thought them worth trying to reclaim. Re. the Doritos -- I don't think Frito-Lay wanted them back. I will do a bit of research to see what laws apply if a truly valuable cargo washes up on the beach.