The Conquest of Henry Park

23 Nov

A long time ago, I foolishly declared that I would find silver coins in every old park in our fair city. By sheer luck, I’ve managed to do that at almost every old park except for one; Henry park.

I got the information about Henry park’s founding from a city web page that no longer exists. If I recall, the park opened in 1886; a neighborhood park the size of a city block. Today, the park is a flat piece of land with no trees in it. The oldest trees on its periphery, could be from the 1940’s. Only recently, the city put some modern play equipment on one of its corners.

I hunted this park once or twice in the last five years and didn’t find any silver coins. Today, I wanted to give it another shot and took my XP Deus metal detector and two hours in an incredibly beautiful day. For the first hour and half, the park behaved exactly as before. I found nothing but aluminum foil and a few pieces of rusted wire (there are lots of wire at this park for some reason). However, towards the end of my hunt, the park began to act its age. At about 6 inches down I found a 1942 War nickel. A few minutes later I pulled the bottom of a shotgun shell known around these parts as a head stamp. Last came a small silver earring.

Henry park loot

Henry park November 23 2016

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I see that I need to spend more time at this park. It is incredibly trashy for not having any amenities and for not being used very much. I also suspect that sometime after the Second World War, this park was filled and graded, putting the coins from the turn of the century out of reach. I could be wrong. I aim to find out.

Thank you for stopping by.

Lots of square inches, lots of coins

18 Nov

I hunted a site that has been active in our city’s history since its very beginnings. The school sitting there is the modern version of the school that was there in the 1870’s. Unfortunately, the dirt at this site has been moved countless times as other structures were built and torn down and at least one railway crossed it. Still, I was hopeful a coin or two may have been left unmolested in the ground.

After almost an hour of digging bits of zinc and old brass, I managed to dig a 1940 wheat cent, then my lunch hour was over. On my way back to the car I could see the thousands of square inches I did not ran my coil over, each with the potential of having a coin under it.

I have mentioned this before. If you think of the site you are working as a collection of square inches, then, maybe, you will be more careful about exploring each and every one of those square inches. I am just saying.

Again, I didn’t take a picture of my wheat; you know what a wheat looks like. I am really enjoying my metal detecting these days. I hope you all are too.

Thank you for stopping by.

The return to the Iron Pit

17 Nov

For lunch today, I returned to the Iron Pit. The Iron Pit is a segment of river bank where, a few years back, I found a number of wheats and other old bits just laying on the surface. Eventually the Iron Pit yielded silver and gold and many other cool things. One of the funnest things about the Iron Pit, was finding a relatively large number of small silver pieces; charms, small rings, bits of earrings; that sort of thing.

Along with all that, I found a number of small transportation tokens from the early days of Wichita. I suspect, although I never was able to corroborate this, that this spot was a stop in the InterUrban rail system that existed in my city before the 1940’s. This would explain the amount of coinage and tokens and the bits of silver jewelry (plus two gold rings). This would also explain the high concentration of iron there.

Since I am back to gold hunting, I decided to return to see if the rains of the past couple of years had washed up something I missed. I didn’t take a picture but today i found a number of bits of foil and two non-ferrous targets: a 1928 wheat cent and a brass ring, not the jewelry kind, more like it belonged to some machine. Both items gave nice signals and neither was deeper than five inches.

I think the Iron Pit is ready to give up more goodies. Stay tuned.

Thank you for stopping by.

Fall Day Silver

11 Nov

For lunch today I took Maurice, my XP Deus metal detector, to a section of river bank where I found a number of rings a few years back. My intention was to dig all mid-tones. A good number of pulltabs are no longer buried there and this:
1942mercury

Not too shaby. I plan on returning and finish cleaning the area of all foil and pulltabs.

Thank you for stopping by.

So many coins, so little time

3 Nov

Yesterday, I went back to a couple of spots that have been producing coins for me. The first was at the 1884 park where I have an 5′ x 10′ area that won’t stop giving up coins and the second was at another old park (1887) where I pulled a number of old coins this past Summer from an area equally as small.

I didn’t take a picture but I found two wheats from one park and one wheat and two copper pennies from the 70’s from the other. Again, these coins were there every time I hunted those two spots before and I missed them.

Anyway, today at lunch I tried a different park (1886) and as I was detecting, the thought struck me that there hundreds of spots in the old parks where I’ve never ran my detector. The possibilities are endless.

You may think me overly optimistic for no reason but in fact I do have a reason and I am going to tell you about it.
Before the Great Depression, Wichita was a happening place. I don’t mean just a good place to be at; I mean THE place to be at. Wichita was slated to become the next Chicago. Movers and shakers were relocating here in troves. Opportunity flowed through the city streets and anyone with a modicum of spunk could make it big. All these successful and driven people needed a place to be seen and a place to relax after a hard day of getting rich and our city parks were a great place to do just that. That is why I get excited at the thought of all those areas in our old parks I’ve never touched.

Before I had to go back to work, I pursued a faint signal under an old tree among a roar of iron grunts. at the bottom of a nine inch hole sat a spoon:
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Sometime in the 20’s I would guess, one of those early Wichita dreamers sat near the Arkansas river with his lovely companion to have a pick-nick. Between laughter, drinks, and talk about their bright future, one of them dropped this spoon and forgot all about it.
(Or a hobbo during the Depression ate his hobbo stew with an old spoon he found somewhere). Take your pick. It is still a cool find.

Thank you for stopping by.

Masking is the new frontier

31 Oct

Sunday evening I returned to the 1884 park with my trusty XP Deus metal detector.

I wanted to spend a little more time at the spot where I found the two Mercury dimes Saturday morning. This time I began my hunt with a high recovery speed and stayed at the same 5’x 10′ area.

I decided to try a two tone approach but it was tricky deciding on the cut-off for iron. I didn’t want to miss any small gold so I probably left the setting too low because I ended up digging about 20 rusty nails. Still, the hunt was productive:
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Iron was found with every target except for the new dime, which was on the surface. The Mercury dime was a faint signal in spite of being only about six inches deep. I attribute this to the Jack that was in the hole with it. The Nickel is from 1949 and was found as part of a pocket spill with the two Wheat cents.

Let me recap so I can paint a picture for you. The area is approximately 5 feet by 10 feet. I conservatively estimate that I have dug more than 200 rusty nails and pieces of other iron from it since I began hunting the spot three years ago. During this hunt I dug two large pieces of iron near the surface. I find large pieces of iron near the surface every time I dig here. There appears to be no end to it.

Why all the iron? I surmise a structure stood here a long time ago; possibly even before the swing set stood there. I think this because I have dug very old door hinges and other pieces of iron that hold wood together from here. Theory number two is that the spot where the park now sits was used as a dump, which I understand was common on the old days. All the coins I have found here harken back to the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s, when the swing set sat there.

There you have it. A classic case of iron masking. There is something called silent masking. As I understand it, this is the case when you hear neither the iron nor the non ferrous target being masked. In other words, the coil goes over both the iron and the coin but the detector makes no noise at all. I believe this is happening here as well.

Stay tuned to see if I am right about this.

Thank you for stopping by.

Back to silver

29 Oct

I returned to the park this morning where I found the token the other day with the aim of exploring more deep signals with my XP Deus metal detector. I have been using the 9 inch coil lately to try to get around the trash.

I selected an area I haven’t explored in several years. I remember this area was heavily infested by foil and pull tabs but today I was amused to find out that the area was relatively clear of shallow trash. Seems like other hunters have been working the spot. After an hour of nothing but deep chunks of rusted iron, I changed my strategy. One of the beautiful things about the XP Deus is that it is ridiculously fast. At its slowest setting, it is as fast as many other machines at their fastest. This is known.

So I raised my recovery speed to 3 and moved to the 5’x10′ area where I have found 99 percent of all coins at this park. I actually watched a guy with an Etrack several years ago grid this very same spot and come up empty handed. I myself have come up empty handed several times but today, I was in a good mental place and got in the ‘zone’ quickly. I must add that the reason why a high recovery speed is necessary at this location is that if you sink your digger to about seven to eight inches randomly, you will likely find rusted nails and several small round pieces of amorphous rusted iron. I know that in the 30’s and 40’s there was play equipment here but why all the nails and other rusted iron are there I’ll never know. Here are my non-ferrous targets:
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The round piece of rusted iron is a steel wheat cent. This is either the third or fourth I have dug since I began back in 2011. The rivet, I was told by my friend lawdog1, is likely from a pair of old overalls. The two mercs were around six inches deep but barely gave a signal as they were heavily masked by iron. I wonder how many more coins are there being silently masked by the insane amount of iron.

I will continue to explore this spot in the coming weeks to see if I can squeeze more silver from it.

Thank you for stopping by!

An interesting token

25 Oct

I stopped by a very old park where I have found a number of silver coins and some big gold before. I only intended to hunt for maybe 10 minutes mostly to test something.  After I dug up a couple of very deep chunks of iron, I got another such deep signal and after digging an 11+ inch hole I thought for sure I would find yet another chunk of rusted iron when to my surprise, a round shape was sitting on the dirt:

For a split second I thought I had a large cent but my brain quickly discarded that idea. I could see the date plainly: 1837 and the back had a design common to British coins so I thought I had a British coin but I was wrong on that count as well.

This is a British gaming token known as a Cumberland Jack. The token was first minted in 1837 when young Victoria became queen. Because she was a woman, queen Victoria could not assume the throne of Hanover due to some law that prohibited women from ruling that part of the world. So that post went to a certified jackass duke of Cumberland. This token was made in derision of him. The token was outlawed in 1883, which coincidentally, is one year before the park I found this beauty at was opened.

This is not the first token I’ve found with a super cool history. A few years ago I found a token from the East. You can read about it here.

Not the Seated coin I was looking for but alas, it is a very cool token if you ask me.

Thank you for stopping by.

Back at it

25 Oct

Now that the weather is cooler and my health is sort of ok, I decided to get back out there and do some detecting.

First, I put the 9 inch coil back on the Deus as I had decided I wanted to explore a park with more pulltabs and bottle caps anyone should have to contend with. My rationale was that since all that junk was still there, the park had not been hunted properly and there may be some gold hiding therein. Three hunts and lots and lots of junk later I decided I had enough of it.

So Sunday evening, finding myself with a bit of free time I went to a site that is super interesting and that has been hit by EVERY metal detectorist to ever walk my beloved city.
This site, as everyone knows because of an 1888 map, had a horse track on it. What most people don’t know is that 10 years or so before said horse race track was ever laid,  a farm house stood there.

In the past, I and many others have found horse related iron at the site. Horse shoes and horse tackle are common finds. I always believed that this was related to the horse race track but now I think I am wrong. Now I believe that the all that horse related stuff is linked to the farm house not the race track.

Since I hunt deep stuff, I have found many old brass remnants there that I believe were part of the house. Thus I returned and began to hunt for deep stuff again. I dug five holes as I was being highly discerning. Hole one had an old rusted iron bolt at about nine inches deep. Hole two produced a small iron handle which perhaps went with a kitchen drawer, also in the nine to ten inch deep range. Hole three gave me a brass button close to eight inches deep. Hole number four was a bullet; not terribly old but also the shallowest target at only seven inches. The last hole produced a lead tag for some kind of product. The lead was nice and aged and the writing on it described something using product codes. This beauty was all the way down the bottom of a ten inch hole.

The significance of the non-ferrous items is that these items were missed. In fact, the site had many more of these kind of deep signals but I didn’t have my shovel with me and after five holes I was worn out. Today at lunch I will return with my t-handle shovel and see what else is  there. Hopefully my first ever Seated coin will see the light of day.

Thank you for stopping by!

Why do I do it??

29 Aug

After several weeks of not even looking at my detectors, I finally went out for a four hour hunt. It was glorious. I dug up what seemed like a thousand holes and found only ONE thing even mildly interesting: a tiny silver-coated locket. I don’t have a picture of it but it is round and it has a hinge so I assume I’ll be able to open it.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining. I had a great time alone in the park, answering the call of the tones as sailors of old answered the call of the sirens. Among the legion of trash, I dug up a handful of center-fired bullet cartridges (probably 25’s, although I am no expert) wondering once again if it was legal to shoot your gun at the park back in the 30’s and 40’s. Also, I unearthed a couple of very rusted square nails and about 30 lbs of aluminum foil. OK, OK, I didn’t really weigh it.

So, any reasonable person would ask, why do you this? It is sheer madness to spend 4 hours digging for naught but trash. What can I say, it’s a detectorist’s thing.

I cannot speak for anyone else but for me, it really is about satisfying the 9 year old inside me. Yep, now you know it; I never grew up. That tiny locket is all I needed as a reward. Sure, a couple of old coins would have been nice too but the locket will do. I can’t wait to open it and see what could possibly fit in it.

There is much more of course. The wind, the trees, the squirrel that humorously and noisily gnawed on a black walnut (I think) right above me as I was trying to decide whether to dig or not, and so on. But at the end, I spent 4 hours just for the sheer curiosity of it.

No one else will know what’s buried in the parks. Only those of us afflicted by this weird sickness can know. And there are so many interesting things buried; each with a story.
I mean, back in August of 2011, I was detecting the banks of the Arkansas when I dug up a golden coin. I still vividly remember the excitement. I even remember that, convinced it was a gold coin in the hole, I looked around to make sure no one else saw the bounty I was about to receive. Alas, it was not a gold coin but a shekel. In fact I dug up fifteen of them from that hole.
Sheqels
The coins were from the 90’s and worth about $5 American. What in the world were 15 Israeli coins doing buried in the mud of the Arkansas?

I will never know but no other person in my beloved city can even begin to ponder this mystery. Only me.

And that’s why I do it.

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