CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The idea of treasure hunting often invokes images of thick woods, dark caves, tropical jungles, the Old West or the high seas. But in today’s modern world, you don’t need to be quite as adventurous to go looking for treasure thanks to the concept of “urban treasure hunting.”

According to, urban treasure hunting doesn’t just mean looking for gold, gems or other riches. While pulling out the metal detector and searching the earth for buried loot is still included, urban treasure hunting can also mean geocaching, finding an item with more sentimental value than financial, or even scouring antique shops and storage unit auctions for that rare find.

Researchers with LawnStarter looked at several different factors to see which states are the best location for urban treasure hunters to strike lucky. To do this, they scored each state in three categories, which include:

  • Access to urban treasure hunting options. This includes the numbers of geocaching locations, GeoTours, storage-unit auctions, pawn shops, antique shops, thrift stores and flea markets in an area as well as state beaches and if metal detecting is allowed in state parks.
  • Supplies such as the number of mining, metal detector and hardware supply stores in the state.
  • Community, or the number of treasure detecting groups and metal detecting clubs in the state.

Through these statistics, West Virginia came in fairly low on the list at 44th out of 50th on the list. Researchers gave the Mountain State an overall score of 7.68 out of 100. LawnStarter says in the individual categories, West Virginia did rank 15th in the “supplies” category, but came in at 47th place for both “access” and “community.”

As far as the “community” category, researchers say West Virginia received its ranking because it ties with Delaware, Iowa, Mississippi and Oregon for having only one official treasure hunting group in the state.

The top five states for urban treasure hunting, according to the study, are California in first place followed by Texas, Florida, Washington and New York. California ranked first in the “supplies” and “community” categories, but was ousted from the top spot in “access” by Texas. California and Texas also have the most treasure hunting groups and flea markets.

When it came to the number of metal detecting sites, Texas took the top spot followed by Kentucky then California to round out the top three.

As for if there’s buried treasure in the Mountain State, there are tales of long-lost treasures hidden within the hills of West Virginia, some connected to stories of hauntings. If there is truth to those tales and if those treasures are forever lost to history or still waiting to be found remains a mystery.