Wednesday, February 17, 2016

2/17/16 - Using Junk And Other Finds As Clues: A Simple Example. Talk To Local Old-Timers. Surf Increasing.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Elementary School As Viewed On Google Earth.
Yesterday I said that artifacts are more than objects, and I attempted to illustrate that with an example from my own life.  With that example I wanted to illustrate how personal, meaningful and complex the story of an artifact could be even if it wasn't part of a big event in history.

Today I'll use something very different.  The diagnostic artifacts today are common.  It might be difficult to imagine that there could even be a story connected to these items.

Yesterday I suggested but did not elaborate on the idea that as you attempt to find the story behind an artifact, thinking about the possible story can lead you to more and better finds.  Today's example is very simple and clear, yet in my opinion, instructive.

Take a look at the Google Earth image at the top of the post.  The bottom one fifth of the image is a hill with the higher part at the very bottom of the screen, The hill gets higher as you to from left to right towards the very bottom of the image.  Sorry that isn't more clear.

Lets say I see the school shown above and decide to do a little detecting there.  First of all, I would be ahead of the game if I had done a little research, which would tell me that this school (the main building had only four rooms for eight grades) was in operation back in the 1930s.

If you just wandered around for a while without using too much discrimination, one of the most prominent things you would most likely find would be a very small dense area with a heavy concentration of soda bottle caps.  Not the more modern screw type.

The concentration of bottle caps are indicated by the orange dot on the image below.  Your first reaction, instead of cursing the darned things and turning up your discrimination, might be to wonder what if anything that might tell you.

Same View of Same School Yard With Additional Indicators Added.
What is the age range?  Why are there so many in that one small area?

The light blue line indicates the path of a small stream.  I just wanted to highlight that.

Notice how flat and even that area to the right of the buildings and just below the stream looks.  I'm sorry you can't see the lay of the land better in this illustration.

You keep detecting and run into two areas that are turning up almost exclusively silver coins from the 1950s and a little scattered junk.  The yellow lines indicate where the silver coins were found.

Now you have a heavy concentration of soda bottle caps and two areas where silver coins were located.  Have you figured it out yet?

That flat area was once a baseball field.  There is no longer any obvious sign of the baseball field, and trees have grown in what was once left field.

Below I've outlined in white where the baseball field and the infield was.  There were benches and a backstop, both of which are now gone.

Same View But Now Showing Outline of Baseball Field.
I actually detected this site and found the bottle caps and silver coins in the indicated areas, but I had an advantage and knew about the baseball field long before I detected there.  In fact I played Little League baseball there.  

Once I found the bottle caps, outlining the baseball field and locating the bench areas was easy. Where the baseball caps were found they had an ice cooler with a bottle opener on the side where they sold soda and a few candy bars.

The cooler looked something like this one, as I recall. 

Vintage Soda Cooler
Source: Ebay.
When I arrived to detect, it wasn't easy to align exactly where the baseball field had been,  Nearly fifty years had elapsed, and it looked very different.

The main point, once again, is to try to figure out the story behind finds, even if they are junk finds such as bottle caps.  They still have a story to tell and can provide good clues.

If you talked to some of the local old-timers they might also tell you about the arrow heads found on the hill to the right of the little brown roofed buildings just below the school buildings.  They might tell you about the path leading up the hill where the kids always went for sled riding. or the shade trees close to the building where people ate lunch on hot days.  They might tell you about the older one room school building that is now disguised by the facade of a pizza shop.  (That one room school building is barely out of this picture, arrow heads were routinely found behind that building near the creek when there was a potato field there.)  And they might tell you about the old out-buildings that are no longer there, one of which was filled with cork-top bottles with paper labels, and the nearby bottle dumps and other buildings that have disappeared, including the old wash house that has been rebuilt and modified many times.  You say there is no place left to hunt?  Think again.

And the same principles apply on a beach, even though it is a more dynamic environment.  

I don't think anyone really knows an area like the old-timers that grew up there.  They can be the best source of good leads, They can give you local information that can't be found anywhere else.


In the future I plan to talk about other types of artifacts that can point you to additional finds.  It doesn't matter what the age or type of find is if you can figure out the story behind it.  And when you figure out the story, that can be a reward by itself.  Remember, it is more than an object.  It was a part, however large or small, of some one's life.

I have a lot of different types of things to post.  It will take a while to get around to them all.


Have you ever heard of biomimetics?  I once found a box fish skeleton that I thought was so intricate and interesting that I posted a picture of it in this blog.  Who would have ever guessed that the picture is going to be used in a book on biomimetics for design engineers?  The more I look at that picture the more remarkable it seems to me.  Anyhow, biomimetics is the use of biological materials to inspire new designs for materials and things like Velcro, which, if I correctly recall, was inspired by the structure of sand spurs.  It is nice to contribute to science in small and unexpected ways.


We've been having a surf of bout 3 - 4 feet.  Late Thursdays it will bump up to 4 - 6 feet.  The wind is supposed to be more from the north too.  It could get interesting.

Happy hunting,