Answer! About one foot of top soil removed.
There are many ways to accomplish this without moving one finger. All you need is good vision and a treasure hunter’s mentality. Just go downtown and drive around like the young teenagers do. Instead of trying to look cool, look for wash outs and various cuts in the ground. Common sense tells you to head straight to the historic section.
Construction Sites Can be Some of the Most productive Metal detecting Sites
Some of the driveways expose old original dirt. Downtown sections are frequently replacing side walks or clearing off lots for new construction or parking lots, What better opportunity is there then metal detecting construction sites to avoid recent surface trash and zero in on “the real thing? More than once I have made my best metal detecting finds by courtesy of the bulldozer or maybe by a deep wash after heavy rains.
Not long ago, in the town I lived in, a twenty-five yard section of side walk was taken up. Underneath was ground which had been cut down to lay side walk about 45 years ago. At that time there were no metal detectors being used. It took only a couple of hours of thoroughly cover this area. What helped was the shallow depth of the targets. Few dimes of the sealed liberty variety one 1844 large cent, one 1832 half dime, one brass saloon token good for one drink, and a few other vintage goodies. Again, you must constantly calculate what sites have potential. In this case, it was downtown, original dirt speckled with oyster shells.
Just 3 blocks away is a group of old “shot-gun” houses. In front of several is a semi-circular driveway which cuts about 2 feet below the street’s surface. Here, there is only dirt with pieces of oyster shells and old glass. After getting permission to look, I found Indian head pennies from 1868-1909, and the same number of very early Lincoln cents. Some of these were D’s and S’s in mint condition from the early teens. A couple of barber dimes and one 1864 two cent piece surfaced with a nice silver 1821 artillery button. This was my cut of the pie; very fulfilling!
Watch For Urban Erosion Areas
About 3 more blocks into the historic district, I found a deep wash between a couple of lots. At the top side of the wash I found early wheat’s and lots of Indian head pennies. Also a couple of V nickels came to light. Lower down the cut was even deeper. Here an 1854 quarter presented itself. There was one spot with almost black dirt and a lot of oyster shell fragments. As I listened, it was obvious that iron was the main component as far as metal goes. Very slowly I covered the area from all directions thoroughly overlapping my search coil. Then I heard that almost good sound, but from one direction only, in the middle of all that iron. Chiseling down another 4 inches produced an 1831 dime in AU 55 condition. This cut was a perfect dissect of the layers of time. Oh yes, a coat size Union “I” button come out of this wash as well.
Opportunities like this are fairly easily found if you keep a frequent look-out for such sites when you drive around.
How about those woods?
The Forest Department is constantly clearing for new trees to be planted. To do this they must cut deep trenches to create the rows for planting. Some of these riverside, or plantation site subdivisions, give you untold opportunity. A cleared lot or just the roads cut through the most choice home sites of yesteryear. Just drive around and look for the typical tell-tale signs of days gone by.
Last year I spotted a fire break, only 4 feet wide, with an area of oyster shells. Not only did I find flat buttons, mini-balls, three large cents and one hat plate, I also found the surrounding field to be full of the same.
This sounds very exciting, and it was. However, I failed to take full advantage of opportunity. Another rule: Investigate the entire area around a good site. Across the road was ignored and about 6 months later, some of my very own friends found many mini-balls, Confederate I buttons and 6 Confederate belt plates. Two were clip corner Tennessee style CS plates, one CSA, one large frame buckle and one small Calvary frame buckle. Last, but not least, one US oval with a bullet hole in the center. All of these were in perfect condition, with all hooks and a beautiful grass green color.
A hard lesson, but proof that it is still out there and waiting for you to out fox the odds and cash in on your insight and extra effort.