Canal treasure hunters find little more than mud

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You might call them muckrakers.

Since the Augusta Canal was drained last week for a construction project, throngs of visitors have been poking around in the weeds and mud in search of treasure.

"Everyone is curious to see what it looks like in its nonfilled state," said Rebecca Rogers, the Augusta Canal Authority's marketing director.

During the weekend, remarkably warm weather attracted even more visitors to the naked channel, some of whom brought metal detectors, rakes and prodding sticks.

If there is any treasure to be found, though, Mrs. Rogers hasn't seen it.

"To my knowledge, there have been no big 'finds' along the canal so far, just the unfortunate modern-day debris we expected: shopping carts, tires, a car, and -- sorry about this -- newspaper vending machines."

One reason the channel isn't yielding much in the way of artifacts is that many have already been removed.

"One of the first times it was drained was in '71 or '72 -- from the Lake Olmstead gates down -- and us bottle collectors had a wonderful time," said Bill Baab, a lifelong bottle collector and author of a book on historic bottles of Augusta.

Although the current draining of the canal's upper channel to the headgates is the first in decades, the lower canal was completely drained as recently as 2000, when contractors spent 10 weeks dredging hundreds of tons of silt and mud from the areas above and below Butt Memorial Bridge.

If you find something valuable in the canal, do you get to keep it? The answer is: maybe.

"I wish I could tell you what the finders-keepers rule it, but I don't have one," Mrs. Rogers said.

Some activities, however, are clearly unacceptable.

Park Ranger Brian Edmonds, for example, found some visitors loading an entire truckload of creek rocks from one of the spillway areas.

"A sheriff's deputy was called and they were told to unload the truck and put it all back," she said.

Reach Rob Pavey at (706) 868-1222, ext. 119, or rob.pavey@augustachronicle.com.

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SandyK2005
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SandyK2005 02/10/09 - 03:48 am
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Entire truck load of creek

Entire truck load of creek rocks??? Come on Augustans, why on Earth would you take what shores up the canal from flooding the area??? Rockhounding is one thing, but not swiping a truck load of rocks!! lol

humbleopinion
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humbleopinion 02/10/09 - 07:08 am
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We just needed us some rocks

We just needed us some rocks to hold up the trailer, ya know. After Bush stole all our money we had to sell the concrete blocks to buy food and gas last year. We's just waiting for Obama to get us our new house now!

Rolling Eyes
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Rolling Eyes 02/10/09 - 10:24 am
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I'm just glad that they

I'm just glad that they haven't found any human skeletons among the silt!

scott-hudson
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scott-hudson 02/10/09 - 11:22 am
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Actually, the canal is a

Actually, the canal is a Federally protected heritage area. They really don't care about people hunting for bottles and such, but anything that looks like a significant historic find should be turned over to the canal authority. I found some old "augusta" bricks and a horseshoe! Neat...

mable8
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mable8 02/10/09 - 01:03 pm
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If the mudders want to find

If the mudders want to find 'treasure,' they will have to dig deeper than the surface--treasure has a way of burrowing futher down over long periods of time.

gnumbgnuts
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gnumbgnuts 02/10/09 - 10:22 pm
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Augusta bricks. Now there's a

Augusta bricks. Now there's a find......

SargentMidTown
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SargentMidTown 02/11/09 - 01:03 am
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I found a finger bone but it

I found a finger bone but it did not have a ring on it.

SandyK2005
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SandyK2005 02/11/09 - 01:08 am
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When they made the

When they made the Bicentennial Park downtown, they dug up many granite cobblestones from the 1700/1800s, that were paved over with asphalt over the years. Dad got some for the yard, and in all of the blocks there were old tools that came along with it. Interesting to find old punches and other metal stuff, which withstood hundreds of years of rust. Wonder if the rest of Broad Street has more of the cobble stones and other trinkets from history.

FallingLeaves
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FallingLeaves 02/11/09 - 03:53 pm
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SargentMidTown, if you found

SargentMidTown, if you found a finger bone I hope you reported it.

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