March 26, 2009

Texas wants in on treasure hunt

A Texas commission says the state should be involved in a legal fight for the possession of a potential treasure trove spotted through Google Earth.

The Texas Historical Commission said it plans on seeking entry into a lawsuit filed by treasure hunter Nathan Smith over a possible $3 billion in treasure lost in South Texas, the Houston Chronicle said Thursday.

Commission marine archaeologist Steve Hoyt said the group's request to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is based on the Antiquities Code of Texas stance that Texas owns any historical shipwrecks on submerged lands.

Smith filed his lawsuit in 2007 in an attempt to gain ownership of a possible shipwreck in Refugio County, Texas, he spotted using Google Earth.

Smith suspects the buried wreckage may be a sailing vessel that got lost in a South Texas creek in 1822 during a hurricane, the Chronicle said.

The owners of the land targeted by Smith have opposed his legal motion, claiming the possible wreckage and its cargo are on their lands and therefore their property.