• Rifle Regiment arriving at Belle Point, 1817. Artwork by Michael Haynes

    Fort Smith

    National Historic Site AR,OK

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Metal Detectors: Don't Dig Here

Metal detecting at Fort Smith National Historic Site is not only illegal, it's a felony.

With the growing popularity of metal detecting, and the possibility of discovering treasures, one automatically thinks of exploring historical sites. Think again! Federal law prohibits the possession and use of metal detectors on federal property.

In addition to metal detecting, federal law also prohibits relic hunting, digging for artifacts, and removing artifacts or historical objects. These acts are illegal and can lead to confiscation of equipment, arrest, and prosecution as a felony under federal law. Penalties may include fines of up to $10,000 and possible prison time.

Responsible digging tips:

1. Educate yourself before you dig. Ignorance of the law is no excuse.
2. Seek permission from the property owner.
3. Dig only where it's legal.
4. Don't leave behind a mine field of holes. Always fill your holes.

Metal detecting is prohibited in National Parks and also on many public lands including city and state parks. Be sure to check the regulations before you dig. When in doubt call and ask.

Legal Resources

36 Code of Federal Regulations 2.1(a)(7) - the possessing or use of a metal detector magnetometer, side scan sonar, other metal detecting device or subbottom profiler is prohibited.

Archeological Resource Protection Act 1979 - All natural, cultural, and archeological resources are protected and may not be removed or disturbed.

Did You Know?

Portrait of Anna Dawes

A woman was responsible for the building of a modern federal jail at Fort Smith, AR, in 1888. Anna Dawes, daughter of Sen. Dawes of MA, visited the "Hell on the Border" jail in 1885 and wrote an article describing its conditions. When read in Congress, money was quickly approved for a new jail.