Metal Detecting In Tennessee?

You Should Know The Law

Metal detecting in Tennessee follows the ARPA (Archeological Resources Preservation Act).

Please click on the link below for the ARPA explanation and some of the problems people face who break this law.

Be sure and read through the entire page.

Even though ARPA does not specifically mention "metal detecting", you need to understand what ARPA says about digging artifacts.

Pay particular attention to the section of stories that have been related to me about what happens when individuals break these laws.


The following story was told to me by a man that was harrassed by State Officials for metal detecting on a public fishing area in Tennessee.

Apparently this individual had been fishing a local stream. Throughout the years the area was used by many fishermen. The only signs that were posted read "Public Fishing Area".

This fellow was not having much luck fishing so he decided to try his luck at metal detecting. He began to metal detect the grassy parking area used by the fishemen when he was approached by another man. This other guy worked for the State Environmental Department and told the individual who was metal detecting that he just broke the law.

The fellow metal detecting asked to see the law in writing. When the State worker could not instantly show him the law, the man metal detecting told him in so many words to "bleep, bleep, bleep."

He then drove away.

Two hours later a Sheriff and an Archaeologist showed up at his doorstep. Apparently, the man who told him he broke the law wrote down his license plate number and it was then traced to his home.

Again, the man asked to see a law that stated that he could not metal detect on that particular property. At that time the Archaeologist showed him a piece of paper that explained the ARPA law.

However, the Arkie and the Sheriff messed up. The individual was never seen removing any item from the ground. Therefore, no charges were ever issued. However, had this individual been seen removing an item that was at least 100 years old, he would have been arrested. Don't State officials have better things to do?

To make metal detecting in Tennessee even more difficult you need to be aware of another law, The National Historic Preservation Act - NHPA.

Click the link below for information about that law.

National Historic Preservation Act

To keep this law stuff as simple as possible;

If you are metal detecting in Tennessee, especially on State Land,

do not dig anything that you believe is an artifact, or anything that is older than ugh 100 years.

If you want to detect on private property, then be sure you get written permission from the landowner.

For detecting in Tennessee, town, village and city parks, you'll need to check with those local officials.

I cannot be responsible for any outdated laws from the time of this posting.

My home page is all about metal detecting in eastern ghost towns.

Have you

been metal detecting in Tennessee ghost towns?