I’ve been metal detecting for only a year and it is safe to say that I am fully addicted. I’ve spent many enjoyable hours researching and doing field work. I’ve also enjoyed reading all the amazing stories and articles of finds discovered, hoping someday that I might find something to contribute. Well, now I think I have a story worth telling. Maybe this could give inspiration to some aspiring treasure hunters out there.
Actually, to set the record straight, I have metal detected in the past with my father when I was a child. We had a cheap detector, which had no discrimination and had no pinpoint, what a drag compared to today’s machines, but never the less we use to go out all the time.
We use to go to a small lumber camp in Western Montana near my home town. My father originally discovered it when he was about sixteen hunting and trapping in the area nestled in a draw. He remembered this for many years later, and bullet casing and chunks of iron debris were all I remembered finding. We always thought of the gold coins the lumberjacks had to have dropped, but were never found.
Years later I decided to start the hobby again, but this time with a new hunting partner, my wife. Buying our detectors and going for hours around our local town to parks and private lawns, we felt like we were getting the hang of it.
In the back of my mind I always thought of that old lumber camp, so I gave my father a call. After many failed attempts in trying to relocate the site, I was finally rewarded with the site of rotting log foundations, the only evidence of that long forgotten camp. It was amazing to see how nothing had changed since I last visited it. It was like seeing an old friend.
My wife and I immediately broke out our Garretts and put the headphones on, and set those search coils a swinging.
We pulled many lumber type relics, like axe heads, ox shoes and chain links. There were also numerous old bullet casings found just like before with my father. After we cleared most of the area of large trashy debris, we started to focus the search, looking for more conductive metals like coins!
At this time I received a signal reading in the dime range. A smile creeped up to my mouth and the nervous anticipation began. Digging just below the surface, I uncovered a tie pin, smaller than a dime, and looked to be made out of bronze with silver. On the face of the tie pin were an axe and hammer crossed with the letters M.W.A. I thought to myself that was a good find, because it may help date the site.
After returning home, I began researching the pin. It turns out the M.W.A. stood for “Modern Woodmen of America“, a fraternal life insurance company, which is still active today. I was able to contact their historian and they were able to determine the pin’s time period to be from 1890 to1910, which was the time period we had been suspecting for some time. It also confirmed that this was most likely a lumber camp. We often thought it may have been a mining camp.
Lumberjacks joined the M.W.A. to insure that if something tragic happened during their job, their burial was paid for. You will often see the M.W.A. logo on old tombstones.
After making many trips back to the area, and returning with slim finds, but still enjoyed being in the outdoors, I started to become discouraged. I made fewer trips, and when I would go, I would only stay for a short time. I was definitely burning out. Until one fall afternoon, just on a whim, I decided to return.
Returning to the site, I got out of my car and walked to where I thought I should start, which incidentally was a place that I have searched many times in the past (including the days with my father). Within fifteen minutes I got a good nickel signal. Usually these nickel signals turned out to be spent rifle casings.
I bent over lazyily to “pop” it out, and out came a 1901 Liberty V Nickel! The first thought that came to my mind was, “it’s about time”. I rechecked the hole with the search coil and a solid dollar signal pinged back. “It can’t be”, I thought to myself.
A little nervously, I checked the hole carefully in case the reading was accurate, then out rolled a 1896 O Barber Half Dollar! At this point I was weak in the knees and I needed to just sit and savor the finds.
After recovering my composure I began to search the hole again, but no signals appeared. Just a few feet away I received my next signal. A quarter signal was ringing loud and clear, and to my disbelief a 1892 Barber Quarter appeared!
After these finds, I was so distracted I simply packed up my gear and headed out. Using the logic that I used up all my luck for the day, and I opted to return another time. I know there will be many more finds in the future, and with every find, it is important to savor and enjoy every moment!
I’ve learned some important lessons from that experience.
- Even though you might have thoroughly checked an area, the possibility of missing something is always there. Never cancel anything out.
- Never give up hope. The hours you put out in the field can reward you at any time.
- Do your research
Author: Hank D.
Incoming search terms:
- lumber camp metal detecting