My 2021 New Years Resolution (and I think my 2020 one, too) was to find sites I hadn't previously searched rather than to put all my eggs on cleaning up what's left of familiar sites. (I still do some of that, too, though). This year I've already reported on four previously unsearched (by me, that is) sites, all which have produced. More on those in my year end summary in a month. Early in November I decided to make one more try for 2021 at finding some new ground and with the help of HistoricAerials.com, I found four promising locations. I'm going to simply refer to them as sites 0, 1, 2, and 3.
Site 0 is the easiest to report on. From early 20th Century USGS topos it was a small (one room?) school that disappeared around 1950. A drive by showed that not only is it now a private home, but that the intersection where it was located has been seriously reworked, i.e. enlargened. At best it falls into the 'private permission' category and I'm not at all good at those.
Site 1, with added help from Google searching, was an elementary school and high school back at least to the eary 30's. The HS closed in the mid 60's and the elementary school a few years later. The building is still there but there are mixed signals as to whether it's public or private. Some threatening signs indicated at least part of it is currently privately leased, but the a__holes are very vague about what is and isn't theirs. I spent 1 1/2 hours in a couple spots with promising results (see photo of good finds below) but I just didn't feel comfortable. There was a lot of coming and going by various groups (sports participants, church goers, etc.) and although no one bothered me I just didn't feel welcome.
Site 2 was another small elementary school. I don't know when it was formed but it appears to also go back to early in the 20th Century. I think it closed around 1960. It's now a small public park and community center. Unfortunately both my visual (internet) research as well as detecting and viewing the site in person makes me think it's been heavily reworked since the school was torn down. First hunt there, 3 1/2 hours, produced 2 Wheaties and a sterling ring, plus a fair amount of modern coins and trash. That was my survey hunt. My second trip there was intended to focus in on a trashy but potentially less overfilled part with the ML Equinox and 6" coil, but that wasn't very fruitful. About 2 hours in I was approached by an elderly (81 year old) friendly neighbor who filled me in on some history. He said he had attended that school as a youngster (presumably around 1950) and told me that although several detectorists had been there before me, as far as he knew they had never searched a slope near one edge of the property where he said he used to play and that bulldozers hadn't bothered. Now that's the kind of info I like to hear! I thanked him and headed over there. For now I'll leave it at that and tell more in the show-and-tell portion of this post. He twice more returned and told me of some other nearby sites I should search but they all sounded like private properties.
Site 3 is an active, modern elementary school which replaced an early one built around 1955. I was able to go there during their Thanksgiving recess. Unfortunately this site has been heavily reworked since the original school was razed and it also feels like it's been rather thoroughly searched. In 7 1/2 hours (two days) of hunting I only found 2 Wheats plus one other oldie (more on that shortly).
OK, here is the eye candy you've been waiting for:
Top two items are from Site 1 -- 1983-D nickel-clad half dollar (only my second ever) and a necklace chain and pendant which was clean but unfortunately apparently (magnetic) nickel plated copper. Both were reasonably shallow but not on the surface. Based upon these finds I don't think this part of this site has seen detectors in 2 or 3 decades.
Now the finds are in pairs from lower left. Site 2 produced this sterling ring with stones (don't know if real, but they look nice to my eye, and especially to my wife who has already claimed it!). Thanks to that 81 year old former student I found the 1899 Indian Head Penny on the virgin slope where he used to play. Turns out the EMI was so bad I had to use 4 kHz on the ML Equinox and its dTID rang up in the high 20's (silver coin zone), not 20-ish where they show up in MultiFrequency. It was only about 4 inches deep.
Next two (silver alloy 'Warnick' and broken piece of jewelry) were found at Site 3, showing that there are a few spots which haven't been backfilled. The broken piece showed up in the USA nickel zone (dTID 12-13 on the Equinox) and given its size I think this is high conductive composition. Both ends show that they were broken off something larger (bracelet?) and the fact there is zero copper coloring there makes me think this could be a silver alloy.
Finally, the last two items on the right were found this past week in my bread-and-butter 2021 site, the 'Wheatfield', not one of these four recently reserached sites. The ring has a men's wedding band shape but is marked '925' so sterling. (My wife has claimed it, too.) The IHP is a 1901. In my two times searching there last week I found 5 Wheat pennies each day (3 hour hunts per day). I expect to spend my last few hunts this year at that site. I'm sure there are more oldies and I'm shooting for a record year (quantity) of Wheat penny finds. I only need 5 more to tie last year's 103.
The above picture is the 'good'. Here are the 'bad' -- interesting (?) non-coin finds from these four sites:
And if you want to see 'ugly', you'll have to await a future post.
Last Sunday I got a call from my detecting buddy. He's a member of the same detecting club I'm in and known as the guy you call to find lost rings. He said he got a call from a lady who lost her wedding ring somewhere on her property between the house and her chicken coop and wanted to know if I wanted to help him search for it. I said sure!
I had only done that one time a few weeks before when we were detecting in a park and a parks supervisor came up to him. He thought we were in trouble and promptly started showing the supervisor how we take great care closing our holes, but the supervisor said he didn't care about that. He said he had gotten a call from a lady who had lost her wedding ring a week before at a playground and he wanted to know if we would look for it, which we promptly did. Unfortunately we didn't find that ring.
So we headed out to the mountain property and met the lady and she showed us where she thought she had lost her ring the day before. I thought it must be laying on the ground in plain sight somewhere and this should be easy. Then I saw the chicken coop. Oh boy. I hit inside and outside the coop while my buddy took the trail from the house to the coop. The chickens were pretty well behaved except the rooster who kept giving me the stink-eye. I had a feeling he was just waiting for me to turn my back on him.
We covered the 200x30 foot area pretty well for several hours, double checking each others search areas. We were about ready to throw in the towl when my partner decided to check the wooden walkway between the house and the garage. There were openings between the slats that the ring could have dropped into so the home owners offered to pull a few slats up to allow the detector access underneath. While they were ripping up the floorboards, I decided to wander back down the path toward the chicken coop to check any areas I may have missed. As I neared the door to the coop a garden hose caught my eye about 25-30 feet down hill from the path. I was going to sweep that area earlier after finishing the coop area, but the owner said she hadn't been down there so not to bother with that area. For some reason the hose intrigued me so I started searching down the hill from the path. When I reached the hose I was picking up the brass fitting with loud and clear 25 on the Nox but also with a lower fainter tone mixed in. I pushed the hose fitting back a bit and got a solid 7 from multiple angles. I couldn't see anything on the ground, so I pulled my pinpointer thinking it was probably foil of some kind while gently scraping away the pine needles and a little dirt and there it was, the ring! A beautiful Platinum wedding set with a 1 ct. center stone surrounded with 2 baggettes and 6 smaller diamonds. I yelled out, "Bingo!" and the owner and her husband ran down the hill. They were overjoyed and so was I. My first ring recovery! They offered a reward but we politely refused so they insisted that we take a donation for the Metal Detecting Club, for which we were very appreciative. What a day that was!
Tom_in_CA and I have been itching to get out detecting! We decided to hit some of our old "back pocket" sites and check out a couple of new sites as well.
Reales, several Phoenix Buttons, flat buttons, some nice pre Civil War eagle buttons, seateds, relics, and the usual suspects were found this trip!
Last week I spent the whole week in Virginia at the Diggin in Virginia Event. DIV 50 was spread over 4 different farms which comprised of thousands of acres. 5 days 10 hours a day metal detecting, what a dream. I don't attend too many metal detecting events, it's just not me. But DIV is different and offers sites you just can't get on otherwise. Now although some of these farms have been hit by DIV upwards of 10 times, they are still giving up relics. Most of the DIV digs take place in Culpeper County Virginia and is known for it's very hot dirt. VLF detectors struggle in this environment so a PI like the GPX, TDI or ATX are preferred. But you always get the person that can't afford or is unwilling to spend the money to rent or buy a PI and will take a go at it with a VLF. DIV 50 was no exception. I saw many people metal detecting with VLF's I even had a gent check a target for me in the woods that was using a White 6000 DI. I had just dug part of a Shako hat pin and got another signal under a tree root and couldn't tell if it was big iron or big brass (the rest of the hat pin) so had him check it for me, it turned out to be iron. So VLF's will do ok in the woods or in thick iron patches, but out in the fields it's GPX all the way. Right tool for the right job, so come prepared. I always take the GPX and either the Deus or Equinox as backup. If you decide to go, make sure you know your metal detector well. We talked to a group that all had GPX's and didn't find a single relic. They spent their time digging nails. It doesn't matter if you have the best metal detector in the world, if you don't know how to use it, chances are you aren't going to find good stuff. That goes for VLF detectors as well. If you know your machine you can find stuff in the hot Culpeper dirt. Knowing your machine and how to make changes for the soil can mean the difference between success and failure.
On this particular DIV, it being 50, some of us figured it may be the last. So my group decided to concentrate on the fields where we knew the Confederates camped prior to the Union Army moving in for the Winter of 1863-64. Other than going to a Union Camp for a day where you have a chance at digging some nice bottles of finding a whole Shako hat pin. We spent our time on a strip of land that boarders a creek where the Confederates camped. On day 2 we went to a part of the farm we hunted last Fall and was finding Gardner, ring tail sharps and 69 caliber round balls. These are all considered bullets used by the Confederates. the camp was located on a hillside that sloped toward a wash that ran into the creek. Last year I hunted that wash and was finding numerous 69 caliber round balls in and amongst the modern fencing and wire pieces. So I decided to hunt my way down the hill towards the bottom of the wash. As I approached the bottom of the wash I started hearing all the wire signals on my GPX and slowed down to investigate each one. I finally got a good solid signal and dug a ring tail sharps. Next signal not more than than 2 feet from the sharps bullet I got a signal that sounded like wire but wouldn't break up so I decided to dig it. When I got down about 12 inches I got my pin pointer out and got a signal in the bottom corner of the hole. I though due to it's orientation in the hole it was most likely a piece of wire. But got my hand digger out anyway to complete the recovery of the target. To my surprise it was a CS tongue, I never in my wildest dreams ever thought I would find one. To make things even better I got the excavation of it on video.
Some other highlights of the trip were finding fuses for artillery shells, artillery shell fragments and one of the other guys in my group found a pewter CS saddle shield which is also a very rare find. I had a great time and have made some good friends at DIV over the years. There are a great bunch of people that put together DIV and an even greater bunch of people that attend them. Some of these people have been attending since the very first one and are willing to share their knowledge with anyone who asks.
The Florida Clan wanted to come for a visit and try some of that Arizona Sweet Tea. Haven’t seen them all in a group for close to 30 years. But, Robin’s and I trip started on Halloween Day from our home in Reno to Laughlin, NV. That’s about as far as I can drive in a day! We cut through Searchlight, NV and passed a couple washes I’d like to revisit. Next morning we cut out to Wickenburg, AZ for a visit with Friends that just moved there a few months back. Mike & Yvonne formally from Rural Oregon made the move to Wickenburg for the love of Team Roping and the Hunt for gold. Didn’t take Mike long to find a Welcome to Arizona Patch which currently is close to a 2-oz patch! (Below in my hand are the fat ones). Mike took me when we arrived to their home for a short swing! It was a hill side small drainage wash that feed into the big wash. I explored the patch and several nearby spots in the Reno Summer like temperature of 87 degrees. I was roasting when I noticed a Cholla stuck to my Boot which I removed with 2 rocks with a dozen or more of its spears stuck deep into the leather! Well 1/4 mile more and they worked their way thru the leather and now poking my foot! We had to leave with no tools to remove needles. Well off to my Folks and a week of fun with my Family traveling the sights from the Grand Canyon, Sedona and Tombstone. Heading back we stopped at Mike & Yvonne’s again for a longer hunt and then hit the local Rodeo grounds for dinner and some cold beers. Again, it was more than warm for this Northern Nevada guy. We seen some likely hills with some colors we liked. I was 3 gullies over (1/2 mile). I just worked up the side hill wash to the top of the hill and swung over to the next wash to work down it and repeat. I heard Mike say, hey the old timers worked this one! Sure enough old dry wash piles. I was up at the head of the wash and he was midway swing up. I pulled a dink nugget out and then Mike got on a string of nuggets. Sure there was some trash, but there’s 9 little nuggets the old timers left us! We know there is more to find at this spot, but water was getting real low and cold beer was at the Rodeo Grounds. Off we went leaving the new patch to catch it’s breath after a 30 minute beating. There’s still plenty of ground to explore in this old placer area(s) of Morristown! What a great Vacation and yes, we are home to nice and cool Reno 😂. Until the Next Hunt