Drought uncovers treasure for looters on Lake Whitney

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by CASEY NORTON

WFAA

Posted on September 29, 2011 at 8:45 PM

Updated Sunday, Oct 2 at 12:16 AM

LAKE WHITNEY - Sinking lake levels have exposed some of Hill County's hidden secrets.

Fossils and Native American tools from eight thousand years ago are easy to find at Lake Whitney, and looters are taking advantage.

They used to be buried in underwater caverns, but the drought has evaporated that protection.

"The looter and scavenger comes and digs up the site," said U.S. Army Corps Engineer Brad Demsey. "They just destroy all that and leave it to the side."

Even in remote parts of Lake Whitney that were once buried under concrete for security, scavengers unearth and discard valuable history.

There are fossils and Native American tools from prehistoric times.

Texas and federal laws ban the removal of Native American artifacts from archaeological sites, but burial grounds have been disturbed.

It has been decades since the lake has been this low. Demsey said it has been 20 years since anyone has seen the caverns.

Authorities patrol Lake Whitney and have made 30 arrests. Violators were put on probation and fined thousands of dollars.

But, state and federal agents fear the only the thing that can truly protect the historic artifacts is enough rain to end a historic drought.

E-mail cnorton@wfaa.com
 

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