By Mark Gillespie
Finally got to hunt an old home site yesterday evening. The elderly gentleman had given me permission to hunt all his property and he had kindly given me a little history of the different home site that were on the property. I listen intently to every word to obtain as much information as possible of each locations. One of the sites was a home assembled using wooden pegs. He proceeded to explain that he tore the home down and burned the balance then proceeded to get a dozer to grade the property and fill in with dirt. He did explain that anything there would be over a foot deep and he was correct, I couldn’t find anything that would date the property to the early 1800’s.
The second site I hit yesterday and even though I didn’t find any nice relics I had a lot of fun just hunting. Moving around in the area I noticed a section where the Equinox would give many false high tones. Knowing this usually meant iron I opened up the screen and every sweep revealed multiply low tone iron signals. After a while I decided to start digging these low tones that gave an ID of -3 and found my answer, cut nails. Wow, that means I’m on an old site, yes, excitement overwhelmed me for a few minutes.
Noticed the Ole man walking up the field to where I was I waited for his arrival. Knowing he would have more to say and the very first thing out of his mouth was, “have you dug any cut nails yet?” My answer, yes sir and handed him one and the story unfolds more detail of the site. He said when he was a child there was only a few foundation rocks left of this house, no wood but only the rock foundation. That was 80 years ago and he estimated the site may have been 200 years old. At that point I got extremely excited at what might be here until the very next statement from the gentleman. “Mark, I had the site leveled many years ago.” “But I pushed all the dirt to level the lot in one direction and I would guess your best bet of finding anything would be along the banks of the hill.” Well, yet another let down, a site dozed, that destroys the originality of where and what could have been found. But I’ll continue to hunt while I can and digging cuts nails is still fun.
"Nails provide one of the best clues to help determine the age of historic buildings, especially those constructed during the nineteenth century, when nail-making technology advanced rapidly. Until the last decade of the 1700s and the early 1800s, hand-wrought nails typically fastened the sheathing and roof boards on building frames. These nails were made one by one by a blacksmith or nailor from square iron rod. After heating the rod in a forge, the nailor would hammer all four sides of the softened end to form a point. The pointed nail rod was reheated and cut off. Then the nail maker would insert the hot nail into a hole in a nail header or anvil and form a head with several glancing blows of the hammer. The most common shape was the rosehead; however, broad "butterfly" heads and narrow L-heads also were crafted. L-head nails were popular for finish work, trim boards, and flooring.
Between the 1790s and the early 1800s, various machines were invented in the United States for making nails from bars of iron. The earliest machines sheared nails off the iron bar like a guillotine. The taper of the shank was produced by wiggling the bar from side to side with every stroke. These are known as type A cut nails. At first, the heads were typically made by hand as before, but soon separate mechanical nail heading machines were developed that pounded a head on the end of each nail. This type of nail was made until the 1820s.
By the 1810s, however, a more effective design for a nail making machine was developed; it flipped the iron bar over after each stroke. With the cutter set at an angle, every nail was sheared off to a taper. With the resulting nails thus all oriented in the same direction, it became possible for the same machine to automatically grip each nail and form a head in a continuous mechanical operation. Nails made by this method are known as type B nails.
Cutting the nails leaves a small burr along the edge as the metal is sheared. By carefully examining the edges for evidence of these burrs, it is possible to distinguish between the earlier type A nails and the later type B nails. Type A nails have burrs on the diagonally opposite edges, while the type B nails have both burrs on the same side because the metal was flipped for each stroke.
This kind of evidence can be used to establish the approximate period of construction or alteration of a building. Type B cut nails continued to be the most common through most of the greater part of the nineteenth century.
With the rapid development of the Bessemer process for producing inexpensive soft steel during the 1880s, however, the popularity of using iron for nail making quickly waned. By 1886, 10 percent of the nails produced in the United States were made of soft steel wire. Within six years, more steel-wire nails were being produced than iron-cut nails. By 1913, 90 percent were wire nails. Cut nails are still made today, however, with the type B method. These are commonly used for fastening hardwood flooring and for various other specialty uses."
I found this old newspaper article from the New York Times that I really enjoyed reading, it's just as relevant today as it was in 1999 when it was printed.
One paragraph in it really stood out to me, and it's very true.
'This is an art,'' said Mr. Vega, the Long Beach beachcomber. ''It's knowledge. You have to know the elements and you have to become one with your machine. Your machine talks to you and doesn't lie. But the machine is as good as the guy that's operating it.''
Here is the article, it's very much worth reading
I've found in the past sometimes articles like this are restricted, and this article says its for subscribers only but overseas people can sometimes read them when locals can't, seems odd to me but it's happened before.
In case you're unable to read it here it is
Finding Happiness With Metal Detectors
By ALLAN RICHTERAUG. 15, 1999
''THERE'S something,'' Hugo Vega said suddenly, halting the metal detector that he had been sweeping across the sand in slow arcs. He listened as the detector beeped into his headphones. ''Sounds like a coin,'' he said. Mr. Vega took a clump of wet Long Beach sand with his scoop, plucked out a shiny quarter and deposited it into a mesh bag around his waist. A quarter mile of beachfront later, he was $2.50 richer.
Mr. Vega, 50, has retrieved a fair share of garbage, including rusted nails, soda-can pull-tabs, even hypodermic needles in his 13 years of detecting. But he estimated that he has also found more than $30,000 in jewelry and $5,000 in coins.
''I'm a wet-sand guy,'' Mr. Vega said, staking a position with the die-hards among Long Island's estimated 1,500 treasure hunters. Most treasure seekers avoid the hard work of digging in heavy wet sand, even though it's a natural spot to find jewelry lost by swimmers as cool ocean waves finish the ring-loosening job begun by tanning oil. ''If you throw a Frisbee into the water and you have suntan lotion on, there goes your ring,'' Mr. Vega said.
The Island's prospectors are hardly homogenous in the places they look or the things they seek. Some look only for historical relics and avoid the beach. Most stick to the dry sand and don't care whether their coins were minted just a few years ago. A few hard-core hunters don wetsuits and wade up to their necks with sophisticated waterproof detectors and floating sand sifters. From there it's just a degree or two of separation from the big-time treasure hunters who search the globe for sunken galleons.
But whether the take is doubloons or dimes, the hobbyists all seem to share a passion for the thrill of the surprise. Archeologists say human artifacts dating back 10,000 years can be found on Long Island. Metal relics from the early 17th-century arrival of Europeans onward are most likely to send signals bouncing through prospectors' detectors. But sharp-eyed treasure hunters have retrieved stone arrowheads and other non-metal artifacts from the region's once-dense Indian populations. ''The metal detector is like a time machine; it takes you into the past,'' said Michael Chaplan, a Richmond Hill, Queens, epidemiologist and treasure hunter whose searches have turned up a Lincoln campaign button and a Revolutionary War cannonball. His oldest find: a fishtail-shaped stone arrowhead from an aboriginal group called the Orient Focus Culture that lived on the Island about 3,000 years ago. ''You never know what's going to be in that hole that you're going to dig,'' Mr. Chaplan said.
Even veteran treasure hunters said they would have a tough time making a living from prospecting with metal detectors. Nonetheless, some enthusiasts come by the occasional windfall.
Lillian Rade and her husband, Ron King, were scouring an East Hampton potato field near their home nine years ago when Ms. Rade found a rare 340-year-old New England sixpence. The $35,200 the coin fetched at auction became a down payment on their home, Ms. Rade said.
''Now I want to move to a bigger house, so I need another coin,'' she said.
Enough treasure hunters are similarly enticed to account for about 500 prospecting permits issued annually by the regional office of the state Parks Department. The estimate of 1,500 treasure hunters working the Island came from Tony D'Angelo, president of the local Atlantic Treasure Club, a 26-year-old group with 45 members that meets monthly in Eisenhower Park. A second group, the Patchogue-based Long Island Treasure Hunters Club, was revived this year and has 47 members.
Capt. Richard O'Donnell of the state Park Police said that the state required treasure hunters to turn in items valued at $20 or more. (Unclaimed stuff is returned to the finder after as little as three months and as long as three years, depending on the value.)
The hobbyists have also operated as an informal lost-and-found outside the parks. Last winter, Sonny Mincieli, 17, of Lake Grove, lost a $1,500 diamond-studded gold ring that his parents gave him as an early graduation gift. A treasure hunter, Glen Pagano, was recruited and found the ring after a two-hour search in the snow-covered backyard of Sonny's girlfriend. Sonny suspects he lost the ring in the yard of the Saint James home two nights earlier, when the teens were out late using a telescope.
''If I wouldn't have found this ring and if it wasn't for this guy I would have been in real trouble with my parents,'' Sonny said. ''My mom would've killed me. This ring has nine diamonds in it. Thank God for metal detectors.''
Not everyone shares the sentiment and metal-detector enthusiasts nationwide worry that opponents could legislate the hobby out of existence.
Area archeologists said that detector-lugging treasure seekers pose less threat to Long Island's archeologically significant sites than reckless developers and property owners with no regard for history. Still, Jo-Ann McLean, an archeologist at Garvies Point Museum in Glen Cove, remains wary of the prospectors.
''Once you go into the ground and remove an artifact from its original place you lose all context,'' Ms. McLean said. ''Being able to name the artifact doesn't tell us anything. We want to know what the people were doing, what the culture was like. If people are out there digging these places up, we may never get to properly excavate the sites to know if there are holes in our understanding.''
David Bernstein, director of the Institute for Long Island Archeology at SUNY Stony Brook, said: ''It's as if people are going around and randomly cutting pages out of history books. There's a threat to archeological sites on Long Island from looting in general, and the use of metal detectors is just one small part of the problem.''
Hobbyists say that not all treasure hunters are out to warehouse historical relics as strictly personal trophies or collect a handsome profit from an unfortunate bride's lost wedding ring. In any case, Long Island prospectors and state, county and local officials said that they have settled into a peaceable relationship.
Of Long Island's 20 state parks, 13 are open to detector-toting hobbyists. On top of that, Suffolk County allows detecting on its beaches, though not in its parks. Nassau County rules are more relaxed and ask only that hobbyists leave public grounds the way they found them.
Mr. D'Angelo, a 67-year-old Massapequa resident, traced today's harmony between metal detector hobbyists and parks authorities to meetings in 1997. When Mr. D'Angelo began negotiating with state parks officials, he arrived with brass knuckles, a razor-sharp deer hunting arrow and 45 rounds of ammunition retrieved from Hecksher State Park.
His effort to dramatize the hobbyists' civic contribution removing dangerous materials worked. Among other concessions, parks officials opened more beachfront to the treasure hunters and lifted some restrictions on access to picnic grounds.
Veteran treasure hunters tend to avoid making unnecessary holes in the ground by being able to hear the differences between metals. But they know not to ignore pull-tabs, which have similar conductive characteristics to gold and may send the same signals. (Metal is detected when radio signals bounced into the ground are interrupted.) And like meteorologists, enthusiasts who hunt year-round know to look for a nor'easter -- next winter's storm may uncover this summer's bounty.
''This is an art,'' said Mr. Vega, the Long Beach beachcomber. ''It's knowledge. You have to know the elements and you have to become one with your machine. Your machine talks to you and doesn't lie. But the machine is as good as the guy that's operating it.''
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A version of this article appears in print on August 15, 1999, on Page LI14 of the National edition with the headline: Finding Happiness With Metal Detectors. Order Reprints| Today's Paper|Subscribe
The two prominent Trails into the Klondike interior were originated thru Skagway and Valdez Alaska, I guess I had been inadvertently studying these trails for many years, as I was very interested in this Gold Rush, the antics of some of the characters involved and of course the many waypoints they established...After some thought I decided the Chilcoot trail was to far away for me to ever spend much time looking, but the Valdez trail basically came thru my own back yard...I poured over books written by these characters and it was quite an interesting education....I'm not going to get into that part too much as it is a lot to talk about so I will confine this into the area that is close to my home in Copper Center.. The trail came up the Valdez Glacier then turned and followed the Klutina Glacier to the beginnings of the river it formed.. At the bottom of the Glacier was Boulder Camp not much left of that area because the Glacier had receded a lot but you could see why it was called that it truly is a boulder patch. The other camps leading to the main stopping point were pretty insignificant but Sawmill camp, the place where boats were constructed to float the Roiling Klutina River to the Copper was really a relic hunters paradise. However, it is a look and don't touch now as it is part of the massive Wrangel Park.. it took a Super Cub with large tires to fly myself and companions there but we explored took photos and really enjoyed looking at the piles of gear those old timers had packed over the Glacier and left Behind.. Whomwver is interested in knowing more can find a copy of Basil Austins "Diary of. 98er" this particular book has hand drawn maps of campsites etc all the way to the Klondike. I found Basil Austins personal copy in Powells bookstore in Portland Oregon in the 70s ..I almost choked when I picked this book up and started looking thru it..lol I couldn't get to the Check stand quickly enough... Very interesting reading, however keep in mind that most of these sites are off limits as they run smack dab thru this massive park system. I just wanted to point out a few important things about history. If you want to find Things of Old, choose something and research, research, research, it carefully...for myself I spent years doing just that and unexpectedly I found a treasure map in an old bookstore.....the one site I will talk about is very close to my home in Copper Center.. Stampeders walked all over my land, some paid the ultimate price and are resting in the cemetery constructed by their mates very close to the Copper River...Lots of relics I have found are in the little museum on the bypass road in Copper Center, it is a very nice place to visit if you are ever there.. I've spent hours scouring that area listening for a golden whisper that so far has eluded me, I did find 5 coins at one of the sites all dated before 98, I'm happy with that as the Quarter, dime, nickel, and Indian heads hold a special place for me.. Hope you enjoyed my true story.....
By Lobo Lover
I just fired up the Lobo and placed the coil to the ground, then it beeped or quacked as some would have it but I like the sound's my Lobo makes. I'm starting to understand it with every hour we spend together and I think we have begun a fine relationship with each other, for she rewarded me with my very best find ever. The target was positive as I waved the coil over the ground , so I then began to recover the item and I popped out this badge which was covered with a fair amount of soil. Just like most of the other badges that I find I just put them in the bag and carry on but then when I got home I couldn't find it and was worried I'd have to look for it again. Then my wife said here it is thank goodness she found it, so we cleaned it up with some water to take a closer look.
This is where it get's interesting, I can see now that it's a R.A.F. Squadron Badge. So I look for the Squad number and it showed 518, then I thought I've heard of this Squadron somewhere before, then it hit me D-Day these guy's radioed Churchill directly from the plane confirming the weather was good enough for the landing of D-Day. I could not believe what I had in my hand, a Squadron Badge from the 518 Squadron. So I did some background work and found out that it's the real deal. Some insignias show the hand holding the key to the right but mine was facing to the left so I checked some more on this and it is supposed to face left.
I do hope we have some WW II historians with us so they could give me some more information on what I have found. I also know there were 28 flights in the Squadron with 8 men crews so that's only 224 men in this squadron. I also found out that to this day, some of the where bouts' of couple of these guy's is still unknown one from Australia. Man this is real live history I have here, there's so much information on this Squadron and it's a great story too, so if you haven't heard about these guy's you should check it out for sure. Now if you are familiar with this story, please pass on what information you could supply me with. This must have a lot of historic value and speaking of value what would you think it would be worth to the right buyer?
My question now is, should I have it restored or do we leave these kind of things alone? This is my best find ever and a day I'll never forget. I found some real live history about 70 Year old iconic world history. This is Great I Love My Lobo.
B.T.W. My camera is Sh#*, so please excuse the photography and my other camera is also no, is a digital microscope and can only zoom out to 50X.
By Steve Herschbach
From Placer Gold Deposits of Arizona, USGS Bulletin 1355, By Maureen G. Johnson 1972
HISTORY OF PLACER MINING IN ARIZONA
Arizona's placer-mining industry began in 1774, when Padre Manuel Lopez reportedly directed Papago Indians in mining the gold bearing gravels along the flanks of the Quijotoa Mountains, Pima County. Placer mining was active in that region from 1774 to 1849, when the discovery of gold in California apparently attracted many of the Mexican miners who worked the gravels (Stephens, 1884). Arizona was then part of Mexico, and little is known of the placer mining that probably was carried on in various parts of southern Arizona.
Placers were probably worked in the Oro Blanco district, Santa Cruz County, and the Arivaca district, Pima County. The part of Arizona north of the Gila River was ceded to the United States in 1848, and the part of Arizona south of the Gila River, where most of the early placer mining occurred, was purchased in 1853. Placers were discovered in the 1850's in the Bagdad area, Yavapai County, and Chemuehuevis Mountains, Mohave County; but it was not until 1858, when placers were discovered by Colonel Jacob Snively at the north end of the Gila Mountains, Yuma County, that the first placer-mining rush in Arizona was precipitated. The early years of the 1860's saw the discovery of the famous placers at La Paz, Yuma County, and Rich Hill and Lynx Creek, Yavapai County; many smaller and less famous placer fields were discovered at that time.
Photo: Early placer mining on Lynx Creek, near Prescott, AZ
In the 1860's, Arizona was a relatively isolated and underpopulated territory, fraught with communication and travel difficulties, and beset by Indian problems. Placer mining was actively pursued throughout the territory, and some rich lode-gold mines were discovered and worked; but real news of Arizona mining was slow to filter out from the territory to the more populated areas in California and the East. The period from 1860 to 1880 is reported as the most active and productive period in placer mining, but because of poor communications, there is very little reliable information or production record.
By 1900 most placer areas had been discovered, and many were nearly worked out. Placer mining continued intermittently during the early years of the 1900's. Many attempts were made in various parts of the State to mine placer gravels by drywashing machines, but it was not until the economic impetus of the depression that placer mining became active again in Arizona. During the years 1930-38, 95 different districts were credited with placer gold production, but many of these districts produced only a few ounces.
After the boom of the 1930's, the war years of the 1940's were a setback to gold mining activity. War Production Board Order L-208 greatly restricted the development of gold mines; prospecting for and mining metals essential to the war effort was deemed more important than mining gold. Even more important, however, the economy of the 1940's encouraged work in offices, factories, and war industries for those not in military service, and as a result, many miners and prospectors left the gold fields and never returned.
After 1942, placer production never again reached the heights of the 1930's or the peak production of the 1860's to 1880's.
GOLD PRODUCTION FROM PLACER DEPOSITS
The U.S. Bureau of Mines (1967, p.15) cites 500,000 troy ounces of placer gold produced in Arizona from 1792 to 1964. I estimate that placer gold production was at least 564,052 ounces. Districts of largest placer production were the Lynx Creek, Big Bug, and Weaver (Rich Hill) districts (Yavapai County), the Gila City (Dome), and La Paz district (Yuma County), and the Greaterville district (Pima County), all with estimated placer production of more than 25,000 ounces.
Arizona has many small placer-mining districts (Plate 1) from which only a few ounces of gold has been recovered, mostly during the depression years of the 1930's. For most of these districts, little information other than production has been found. Major lode-gold districts in the State, except for the Bradshaw Mountains in Yavapai County, have had very little placer gold production.
Most of the placer gold produced in the State of Arizona was recovered by tedious work on a small scale by individuals who used rockers, pans, sluices, and dry concentrators. In only a few districts have large-scale placer-mining operations been successful, although many attempts were made to use large dry-concentrating machines.
The most successful large-scale operations have been in the Lynx Creek and the Big Bug districts, Yavapai County, where the presence of adequate supplies of water enabled large dredges to mine the gold bearing gravels. Among the largest and most profitable large-scale dry concentrating operations were those in the San Domingo Wash district,
Maricopa County, in the Plomosa district, and at La Cholla placers, Yuma County; at Copper Basin, Yavapai County, the gravel was hauled to a central washing plant where wet methods of recovery were used. The total amount of placer gold recovered yearly in Arizona from 1900 to 1968 is graphed in figure 1, which also shows major contributors to the peak production.
The ultimate source of detrital gold in placer deposits is, for the most part, gold-bearing lode deposits, which in Arizona are represented by veins in faults, fissures, and shear zones of various sizes.
Most of the placer gold found in Arizona was derived from systems of small gold-quartz veinlets and stringers scattered throughout the bedrock of the adjacent mountain ranges; in only a few localities was the gold in large placer deposits derived from vein systems of sufficient size to encourage lode mining on a large scale. Small placers commonly occur near large gold lodes, but are generally not economic.
The most productive gold veins are those formed during Laramide time, which occur in rocks of Precambrian to Laramide (Late Cretaceous and early Tertiary) age. Much gold has been recovered as a byproduct from copper and other base-metal ores. Since 1941 the large copper mines have been predominant in the production of lode gold (Wilson, 1962).