JS 57: Finding Hidden Treasures with Tim Saylor Host of ‘Diggers’ on the National Geographic ChannelAugust 21st, 2013 by Jason | Comments Off on JS 57: Finding Hidden Treasures with Tim Saylor Host of ‘Diggers’ on the National Geographic Channel
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Tim “Ringy” Saylor is an Explorer and Historian on the new National Geographic Channel series “Diggers.” He joins the show to discuss some of the lost relics of history he found and how people can go about finding hidden treasures during their vacations. Ringy has an amazing travel background, having traveled for both work and pleasure. He shares his favorite hotspots.
Find out more about Ringy Saylor and National Geographic’s new series “Diggers” at www.natgeotv.com/Diggers.
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JASON HARTMAN: Welcome to the JetSetter Show! This is Jason Hartman, your host, where we explore lifestyle-friendly destinations worldwide. I think you’ll enjoy the interview we have for you today, and we will be back with that, in less than 60 seconds, here on the JetSetter Show.
JASON HARTMAN: Hey, it’s my pleasure to welcome Tim “Ringy” Saylor to the show! And he is on the show Diggers, it’s a National Geographic show; he’s an explorer and historian for the National Geographic series, and I think we’re going to learn some fantastic stuff. He digs up all kinds of crazy things, including atomic bombs. So, let’s talk to him a little bit about that. Tim, welcome. How are you?
TIM “RINGY” SAYLOR: Great, it’s great to be here. How are you?
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah, it’s good to have you. So, you live in Montana, I believe. Is that correct?
TIM “RINGY” SAYLOR: That is correct, yep.
JASON HARTMAN: And you’re coming to us today though from Maryland, is that right?
TIM “RINGY” SAYLOR: Right, right. I’m in Maryland right now. We’re still making shows out here, and we’re doing really good.
JASON HARTMAN: Fantastic. Well, well, before we ask you about specific episodes, tell us a little bit about the series in general.
TIM “RINGY” SAYLOR: Well, Diggers is just kind of a thing that developed out of—it’s not just me; it’s KG, the other guy on the show. We met in Montana and started treasure hunting over the years, and making our own DVDs, and then it just kind of exploded into this television show in combination with National Geographic. And it’s been a great thing. Not just for us, because we get to do what we love to do, but we get to go to all of these, you know, historically significant sites now, that are normally off limits to most people. And we get to dig things with an archaeological team, and mark it all out, and we get to discover all kinds of interesting and weird things that most people never get a chance to do.
JASON HARTMAN: Sure, yeah. Very interesting. Now, it’s—so it’s not limited, then, to metal detecting, right? That’s just one of the tools in your arsenal? Would that be a correct—
TIM “RINGY” SAYLOR: It is correct. I mean, we use sifters, and other things as well. But our main tool is metal detecting. That’s generally what we use, and then—for example, like, there was one archaeological site that was about to be destroyed and all covered up because they’re building a new highway and bridge in there, and they were just trying to get everything out of the soil floor from the 1700s that they could, and they were going, and they were running out of time, and they gave us a call, and we went out there and found literally hundreds of things. And it worked out as a win-win situation for everybody, because now their museum gets to have these things that were probably going to be lost in the long run, had they not.
JASON HARTMAN: So when you say they, who is they? In this particular case?
TIM “RINGY” SAYLOR: Oh, well, there’s—I don’t know if it was a private or state, probably hired by the state, because when they’re building highways and stuff, a lot of times they’ll have to do mandatory digs to make sure that they’re not going to ruin anything, or cover, say, an Indian burial ground, or something that might be there that we’re unaware of.
JASON HARTMAN: So it’s a governmental agency in this case, like the Highway Safety Commission, or whoever decides where highways are built, and how they are built, right, I assume?
TIM “RINGY” SAYLOR: Exactly. And everyone once in a while—obviously, there’s nothing—there’s so much stuff out there that eventually, you know, they’re gonna conflict, and you know, it’s fairly common, actually. But it’s just nice that they’ll allow them a little time to try to dig some stuff up to save it. Because over time, a lot of the things made out of iron, or even copper or brass, can pit, and eventually rot away. So it’s nice to be able to save some of that stuff before it’s too late.
JASON HARTMAN: Sure, before it’s kind of buried or entombed forever, right?
TIM “RINGY” SAYLOR: Yeah. Or before it actually disintegrates and disappears forever anyway, you know what I mean?
JASON HARTMAN: I’ve always wondered—how powerful of a tool, Tim, is a metal detector? How deep—how much ground can it penetrate?
TIM “RINGY” SAYLOR: Well, there’s so many different kinds. But when you think of like the guy on the beach walking along looking for rings and stuff—the one like that, like the one that we use, generally they’ll go a couple feet underground, if you’ve got some gigantic target. But if you’re looking for something as small as a ring, or a dime, you’re generally looking about eight inches. And usually more like four to five.
JASON HARTMAN: Wow, that’s not much. So, what kind of equipment do you use?
TIM “RINGY” SAYLOR: Well, we actually run something called an AT Gold, which is just kind of an all-purpose machine. It’s waterproof—you know, you can drop it in the water, and wade in the surf with it, and it works on land, and it’s really lightweight. So, we tend to use that—it was actually designed to find gold, tiny bits of gold, but we use it because it works so well on other things as well. So.
JASON HARTMAN: And so, I mean, if people want to do stuff like this recreationally—like you mentioned the guy on the beach, and so forth—what should they look at spending? What kind of equipment do they need? I have a friend who’s into metal detecting. And I kind of tease him about it. It’s like, what a funny sport, you know.
TIM “RINGY” SAYLOR: Exactly. Yeah.
JASON HARTMAN: But people are still into it. And you know, I would also think that a lot of the things that you can do, like the guy on the beach example that you mentioned, but my friend, he goes on trips, and flies to places just to do metal detecting! Like it’s a big deal. And you know, I’ve always wondered—isn’t it sort of picked over? Aren’t—I mean, the world’s been pretty explored, hasn’t it?
TIM “RINGY” SAYLOR: That’s the thing. Every day on the beach there are thousands of people out there losing stuff. Every single day something is lost. So it’s constantly being replenished. And the other thing is, you know, there’ll be yards, or places that we go, and 99 out of 100 of them have already been hit multiple times by people. But you know, technology keeps getting better, and the depth on them, and the accuracy gets better and better, and the crazy thing is, is we’ve hunted places, say in Montana, before this show ever aired, you know, 20 and 30 times we’d hunt them. Because you can walk at one angle, and a slightly different angle, and not hear something. And you could hear it going back over in a different pattern. So, you—it’s almost impossible. It is impossible to get everything. if you go into a place, you can never get it all. We always say that. And so, you shouldn’t get discouraged in that respect. And to answer your main question, you really don’t have to spend a whole lot of money to get a detector to find something on the beach. You can spend even a couple hundred dollars, you know, two or three hundred dollars, and get a pretty decent machine, and it will find things, and it will discriminate things out so you don’t have to listen to nails, for example, you know, iron, and you can just listen only for silver, or copper, or whatever you want to hear.
JASON HARTMAN: So, they make different sounds, the different metals?
TIM “RINGY” SAYLOR: Absolutely, yeah. The funny thing is, you know, this is kind of ironic, but the you know, a gold coin like a little dollar gold coin—sounds very similar to a nickel, which also sounds similar to a lot of different beer pull tabs. So, you know, you have to dig thousands and thousands of beer tabs before you’ll ever come across a good gold coin.
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah, yeah. Well, tell us about some of the interesting finds. Certainly we want to hear about the atomic bomb. But you know, other stuff too.
TIM “RINGY” SAYLOR: Well, we found—really, most of the stuff we find is not really, you know, like a gold coin—I’ve hunted, you know, almost my whole life, and I’ve only found one gold coin. And you can’t go out thinking you’re gonna get rich doing this. You gotta go out with just the thrill of the hunt, you know, in the back of your mind, and enjoy what you’re doing, and be happy. If you find a mercury dime worth three dollars, I’m thrilled with that. Because it’s cool, it’s old, it’s very different than buying one for three dollars in the store. Instead of buying one, it makes it almost priceless.
JASON HARTMAN: It’s like finishing; you get to tell a story. That’s what makes it interesting.
TIM “RINGY” SAYLOR: Yeah, exactly. That is exactly what it is. It’s dirt fishing. People refer to it as. So, it’s the exact same thing.
JASON HARTMAN: So, interesting finds. I don’t mean to interrupt you from that. I’m sure you’ve had so many of them.
TIM “RINGY” SAYLOR: Yeah. We found—I mean, we have found our share of rings. I’ve found solid gold diamond rings before, and so has KG. But probably my most interesting find is really not worth much, but it’s just incredible, it was an 1894 political pin, made of copper, that’s an anaconda, the capital of Montana. And in 1894, they had a big battle over where they were going to put the capital, and Helena won, so this pin was actually untrue, it was just printed up in anticipation of their victory, or advertising for it. But I just think it’s kind of neat, because it never really was the capital.
JASON HARTMAN: Hmm, yeah, very interesting. So, in terms of jewelry, and things like that—what are some of the most valuable things? How much have things been worth? What I’m getting at is, people that might be listening that want to do this as, you know, not just a hobby, but can they make an income from it?
TIM “RINGY” SAYLOR: You know, people ask me that all the time, and it would be great and romantic to say yeah.
JASON HARTMAN: I’m a treasure hunter for a living.
TIM “RINGY” SAYLOR: I make my living as a treasure hunter, like a pirate or whatever. But it’s just not true. I mean, most of the stuff we dig out is historically valuable, but monetarily, it’s really not. I mean, some of these casings and stuff—I mean, maybe if you get some rare thing, it might be worth five or ten bucks. But most of them are just basically worth the brass they’re made out of. But on the other hand, people do get lucky, and especially in beaches, and places like that, where people are putting sunscreen on, and rings slip off the fingers—we’ve found rings worth well over a thousand dollars a piece. So, I mean, it can happen. But I just wouldn’t expect that to happen every day.
JASON HARTMAN: Sure, sure. What do you do with the stuff you find? Do you just have a huge garage with all your stuff in it in Montana? Or do you sell this stuff? Or what do you do with it?
TIM “RINGY” SAYLOR: No…both of us have occasionally—I’d say, you could count it on one hand, the times we’ve traded or sold something to a collector that just wanted it. But to me, the stuff I find becomes kind of personal. I’ve kept everything, you know, too much, obviously, because most of it is junk. But I keep the stuff, but when we have our show, and we’re hunting in a place that actually has some kind of historical significance, we actually have archaeologists and people from local museums, and historians there, and they take the stuff and put it all in museums. For example, the Hatfield McCoy episode we did, all the bullets and stuff we found on that hillside—they’re pretty historically significant, so all that stuff is put directly in a museum, so everybody can enjoy it.
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah. Fantastic. Okay. More on interesting finds. I mean, tell us how you found a nuclear bomb.
TIM “RINGY” SAYLOR: [LAUGHTER]
JASON HARTMAN: You know, let’s talk about big stuff.
TIM “RINGY” SAYLOR: Yeah. No, that stuff—I mean, they always send us on these wild goose chases. After a lost stash of gold or whatever, the show always becomes about the weird stuff we find on the way; the unexpected stuff. But every once in a while it does happen that we find what we’re told to go find. And in this case, it’s—you know, I hate to be a spoiler, but it’s obviously the main crux of the show, and we did an excellent job of finding what we were sent after. So, it gets crazy, and you know, anybody that knows KG and I, knows we won’t have a complete mental breakdown when we find anything good. So, it gets wild. And the cool thing is, that this happened, it blew that giant crater in the earth, and it’s still there, the crater. But fragments and junk had to be thrown for probably over a mile, when that hit, because it was such a huge impact.
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah. Well so, you were sent to find this bomb, and how did you find it? With metal detectors?
TIM “RINGY” SAYLOR: With metal detectors. We were in plowed farm fields, and the owners had—you know, gave us the keys to the gate, and we went through, and we just started looking. And we found stuff that you would normally expect to find in farm fields, like little chunks of plow blades, and you know, sickle teeth, and things that, you know, are pretty common in those areas. But we were listening for—we knew this bomb was made out of that aircraft aluminum stuff, so we were listening for stuff that would sound like maybe a silver dollar, or something that had a real high pitch to it. And you know, we’re out there for, I don’t know how long we were out there. Not as long as you would think, though. Usually it takes forever to find something that sounds good. And all of a sudden, my detector exploded. I mean, it just lit up, and I just kind of—I didn’t even believe the numbers I was seeing. I just—well, that can’t be. And I dug the hole, and I’m just staring at this objet, thinking, I might have found the bomb! It was wild.
JASON HARTMAN: How large was it, and how’d you dig it up? I mean, were you worried, digging it up? You must have been.
TIM “RINGY” SAYLOR: Not really. They had a piece of it that they showed us, that they had found like 20 or 30 years ago, and they took it to a university and had it analyzed, and there were residual bits of radiation still coming off of it. So, they knew it was a piece of the bomb. And I just—we both knew in advance exactly what to listen for, and what to look for. So, I mean, obviously when it exploded, the thing was shattered in metal, twisted and melted and burned, and so, we just looked for anything that had that exact same sound and look to it. And there were chunks of it everywhere. It was awesome.
JASON HARTMAN: Amazing. Yeah. That’s just amazing. Incredible. Well, any other interesting finds that you want to tell us about?
TIM “RINGY” SAYLOR: Well, we did—we did have—now, that show, that airs August 7th, which is tomorrow, Wednesday. And that atomic bomb one, and the Billy the Kid—those are back to back on the premier night on National Geographic. But, we have another upcoming episode, I think it’s the very next week, and it’s about Bonnie and Clyde, and that was one of those crazy shootouts they had after they were—the posse caught up with them in Iowa. And we found some really interesting evidence of where some of the shooting may have taken place, compared to what the historical records show currently. So that’s going to be a really interesting show.
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah. So, you probably can’t tell us too much about that, right?
TIM “RINGY” SAYLOR: I don’t want to give the whole thing away. But you know, as usual, you know, I’m always—we always have to play like, you know, George is Billy the Kid, and I have to be the one that gets shot in all the episodes with whatever. And you know, of course this one, I had to play Bonnie. It’s a good show. This year, I mean, not only are the historical—all the stories woven through them, and it’s really rich history, but they’ve got some incredible graphics, the shows really turned out cool.
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah, good stuff. Well, now, how many episodes have you done so far?
TIM “RINGY” SAYLOR: Well, the first season I think we had 20, and the second season, we’re going to have almost 30. So, by the end of this year, we should have close to 50 episodes of the show done. And that means we’ve got a lot of holes to dig. Because what people don’t realize is that to make a 22 minute show, we have to film all week, and you know, people are seeing a few thing we find, the great things, but they don’t see the thousand holes we dug before we found that coin.
JASON HARTMAN: Right.
TIM “RINGY” SAYLOR: You know, that had a nail in it, or something like that.
JASON HARTMAN: Mhmm, yeah. Yeah. Amazing. Do you encounter any opposition? You know, I would think that there would be like environmental groups out there that are opposed to what you’re doing, and you know, say don’t dig all these holes! And disturb some little bug or something.
TIM “RINGY” SAYLOR: Absolutely. There’s—just with—like anything you do, you know, there’s you know, there’s good doctors, bad doctors, good lawyers, bad lawyers. There’s always gonna be people, you know, that are complaining and worried about something that we’re doing. The number one thing to remember is just obey the laws. Get permission to go do what you’re doing, and you’ll be fine. It’s just, when we go into—you know, it’s one thing if you hunt in your backyard, and it’s all fun, and nobody cares. And you find a couple of coins, and everybody’s happy. But when we go into some of these more historical places, places with historical significance, that’s why we have our archaeological team, and all the historians, to advise us; because we don’t want to end up disturbing something that we shouldn’t disturb. We want to be a help, rather than a hindrance, and it’s been very, very successful so far. So far we haven’t had anybody call about the bugs or anything, that we’re disturbing.
JASON HARTMAN: Sure, sure, yeah. Well, give out the website, if you would, and tell people where they can learn more about the show.
TIM “RINGY” SAYLOR: Okay, yeah. We’ve got—just the National Geographic, all you have to do is go to the National Geographic website, natgeo.com, and it will—you just type in Diggers, and it’ll pop up the whole TV schedule. Or you can go to anacondatreasure.com, and there’s a direct link right to our page there too.
JASON HARTMAN: Fantastic. Tell us, just before you go, a little bit about your travel background. How many countries have you been to, and what happens when you do this offshore?
TIM “RINGY” SAYLOR: Oh. Well, actually, we’ve done all of this stuff within the United States so far. And next season they’re talking about sending us over to Europe, and so I’m sure we’ll cross those bridges when we come to them—
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah, I would almost think there’s be more stuff to find. Certainly Europe is more compact, and there’s so much history there, obviously. That you might find more things!
TIM “RINGY” SAYLOR: Exactly. There’s—it’s a denser population, and a longer time of population. So, we’ve actually had invites from all kinds of places over there, wanting us to come over and help identify places, and just—I’m really looking forward to it. I’d love to head over there.
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah, fantastic. Good. So, have you don’t a lot of travel offshore? Or is it mostly in the US?
TIM “RINGY” SAYLOR: Mostly in the US for the show. I’ve been—I actually went to school for a little while in Vienna, and I would love any chance I could get to head over to Germany or Austria and do a little hunting. That would be fun. That’s where my family comes from originally.
JASON HARTMAN: Ah, funny you mention that. I was in Vienna two weeks ago. I love that—it’s a beautiful city.
TIM “RINGY” SAYLOR: Really! Did you get to go see the Ring, and all that?
JASON HARTMAN: No, not this time. But I was there before, and it’s always been one of my favorite European cities. I was on a pretty whirlwind tour; went to a lot of countries this time, and so, I was going fairly quick. But it was good. Good trip, beautiful city, I love it. When you guys get over to Europe, I think that’s gonna be really exciting. Because I just have a feeling, the discoveries will be more frequent. And possibly more amazing. I don’t know if you get any more amazing than a nuclear bomb though.
TIM “RINGY” SAYLOR: Well, it is. And just the fact that you mention it is odd, just two days ago I got an email from Germany, and the guy said, I love your show, it’s really interesting to see how you get so crazy over a find from the 18th or 19th century. Because to us, that’s brand new.
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah, right. That’s like new stuff for them.
TIM “RINGY” SAYLOR: Yeah, exactly.
JASON HARTMAN: If you want something historical, it’s gotta be at least a thousand years old in Europe, right?
TIM “RINGY” SAYLOR: Right. Right. It has to be a jeweled sword handle from the Middle Ages.
JASON HARTMAN: There you go, exactly. Well hey, Tim, this has been very interesting talking to you. keep up the good work on the show, and thanks for sharing some of these insights with us today!
TIM “RINGY” SAYLOR: Alright! Well, thanks for having me! It’s been great.
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Transcribed by David