Man finds suspected Civil War-era belt buckle in banks of drought-afflicted river

A treasure hunter in Tennessee says he found a Civil War-era belt buckle while using a metal...
A treasure hunter in Tennessee says he found a Civil War-era belt buckle while using a metal detector in the low waters of the Mississippi River.(Riley Bryant / LOCAL NEWS X /TMX)
Published: Oct. 27, 2022 at 4:34 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Gray News) – With record low water levels in the Mississippi River, people are finding lost artifacts and treasures in the Memphis area.

Metal detectorist Riley Bryant shared photos on Instagram holding what he called a Civil War-era belt buckle inscribed with the letters “US.”

“I’m walking the riverbank here in Memphis, you can see the Bass Pro Pyramid, and all this stuff is washed out, and look what I just found laying here,” Bryant said in a video of the find on Instagram. “Look at that. It’s a Civil War belt buckle. Look, it’s in perfect shape.”

Bryant said he found the buckle tucked between some rocks in a spot that would normally be underwater.

A treasure hunter in Tennessee says he found a Civil War-era belt buckle while using a metal...
A treasure hunter in Tennessee says he found a Civil War-era belt buckle while using a metal detector in the low waters of the Mississippi River.(Riley Bryant / LOCAL NEWS X /TMX)

The belt buckle is not the only discovery made as the water levels have dropped, revealing long-lost relics of the past. Earlier this month, an explorer in Louisiana stumbled upon the wreck of a 20th-century boat that experts believed could be a ferry boat called the S.S. Brookhill.

The area experienced severe drought conditions over the summer, as did much of the western U.S. The Colorado River system also experienced historic lows.

The National Weather Service reported on Oct. 17 that the Mississippi River gauge at Memphis reached a record low stage of negative 10.71 feet, with measurements dating back to 1954. Officials said a negative stage doesn’t mean the river is completely dry but rather that the water’s surface is below the historic zero gauge level.

A bout of thunderstorms passed over the river on Tuesday, helping the historic drought conditions in the area.