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The Carpet of Coins

A TQ Original by TQ Member Free2Dtect

This is the story of my wondering if there were deeper coins that I was not finding. I had some success with the Radio Shack detector, but would a more advanced model enable me to find more older coins. My gal's family encouraged the purchase of an expensive model. After all they said, look what all he has found already. I told my (future wife) it will pay for itself. She agreed, and the next metal detector I purchased was a White's MXT.

The start of the 2004 detecting season in LaCrosse, Wisconsin began on February 28th. I took the new machine to the site on 10th and Ferry street. It was pretty much finished giving up older coins, or so I thought!

The first couple of times with the MXT at sites I had hunted hard in the past surprised me with 5 of the first 6 keepers being older nickels. They were a 1911 Liberty nickel to start the year, followed by an 1891 Indian head, then 4 straight buffalo nickels. The next 3 coins were Indian heads, but they were all from after 1900. I figured there would be a learning curve with this machine, least that's what folks say when you get a different detector. But this was not the case.

First gold ring findOne important find that was not a coin was my first gold ring. The newspaper had a story about several areas the city wanted to improve. I cut out the article and checked these areas out. At one of them they were going to remove a building and enlarge a store. One day they had a large dumpster behind the building. I knew this meant it was soon to be torn down. I went and detected the yard area. I found several wheats in a spot of loose soil. Near the edge of the parking lot I received a reading in the 30's or so. I dug it and just 3-4 inches down, I saw the glimmer of gold. I seen a design on the side and turned the ring, it had a square of white gold and the stone was still in it! Grass roots had grown thru the ring, but I popped them out by sliding the ring on my finger. My first gold ring, and it was a man's solitaire, that fit no less! I showed my gal the ring, and promised to find her a nice one, (but I'm still looking). This special find was to latter become my wedding ring. I had the MXT for one month, it had already paid for itself!

For the next month I went around hunting sites I had hunted for the last two years. It was surprising the number of coins these spots still gave up to this new machine. I one day decided to check some of those iffy targets. Several of them were deeper silver coins.

A 1880 Canadian 5 cent coinOne coin I found was an 1880 Canadian 5 cent coin, it was small. I figured it was the size of a Half Dime or so. The find gave me confidence that I should be able to find some coin types that had so far eluded me.

I figured with the town starting in 1850, there were possibly coins 30 years older in circulation back in those early days. I hoped to find some of those early dropped coins. I remember using the Red Book and making a list of coins that I hoped to find that year.

My list included: The 3 cent Nickel, Silver 3 cent piece, Bust Dime, Half Dime (with readable date), Franklin half, Barber Half, Flying Eagle cent, Large cent, Half Cent, Shield Nickel and Seated quarter. By the end of the year I had found 3 of those type coins!

Timing can sometimes play a major part in finding some nice coins or relics. The month of June 2004 the state and city of Lacrosse, Wisconsin decided to do some work on a sharp curve in town. The project took place on 4th Street from Hood to Jackson Streets. Both sides of the street had their sidewalks removed for water and sewer hookups. Even the street itself was redone. I was fortunate to get in this area from start to finish. I hunted this prime section of exposed undetected ground for over 4 months. Several other detectorists also took advantage of this opportunity. They came from various locations in Wisconsin to hunt due to the potential of the site. It was here that I first met a fellow who became a good friend. He is known as Scratch here at Treasure Quest. I remember he had said if I was to find a Seated Quarter it would be here. This area of hunting ended up being so loaded with coins that I came to believe there was a carpet of coins under most of the City! Like I said timing can be everything, June happened to be a record for rainfall. The MXT in this wet exposed soil was picking up coins at depths of at least 10 inches! During the month of June, I dug 53 keeper coins, of those (43) were pre-1900.

1885 2-cent pieceWhile I had the MXT, one day I noticed a section of sidewalk that was being replaced at the corner of Market and 4th Streets. This was right in front of a building that was a church that dated back to the 1860's-1870's. I ran home to get the MXT but my batteries were in need of a recharge. All I had was the old trusty Radio Shack. I took that back to this newly exposed section of walk. This area consisted of only 3-4 sections of cement torn out. I only had about 20 minutes to hunt before work, but I retrieved several targets. The coins I got out of there were: an 1868 Indian Head, an 1865 2-cent piece and an 1876 Seated dime. I've included this portion of the 2004 season to show that location is one of the most important aspects of finding older coins. Under the sidewalks in older towns is a carpet of coins that still remain to be found. That 20 or so minutes of hunting with the Radio Shack was the last time I picked it up to hunt. It was retired after that and eventually given to my step-son as his first detector.

The long stretch of sidewalk replacements and other improvements was very muddy, but that made getting signals easy and retrieving them was simple with such soft ground. Each day the crews shifted dirt around and this made rehunting the area rewarding. At times there were trenches for water and sewer hookups. I remember hunting in one of these trenches and scanning the sides. I did that to get coins that were under the walks that were not getting removed. The coins rang up lower because they were on edge more, so I had to dig some weak signals. One happened to be an 1864 (fatty) Indian Head. Getting a coin in this manner is not recommended, but it does work. One spot that sticks out in my mind was an area of several square feet on the sidewalk replacement that gave up about 10 coins. I still believe that the spot was the location of one of the old horse drawn trolley stops. There had to be a reason so many coins fell between the cracks of the old wooden board walk that once was there.

I was told that an area like this would most likely produce my first Seated Quarter. I did find my first one in this side walk section. It was on a night hunt, I had gotten a good signal near a puddle of water. I dug down and retrieved a nice 1878 CC Seated Quarter! A little further on I got another good signal and dug a Galena House key fob. Two feet from that I dug a second Galena House key fob. Some one must have taken the train or a Steamboat to LaCrosse in the past. A few days later on the opposite side of the street, I dug a 1900 Barber Quarter. Right in that area were several 1880's and 1890's Indian heads and a couple Liberty Nickels. I figured this was another old Horse Drawn Trolley stop, most likely the one heading the opposite direction, to return workers to their homes. This area did later produce another of the old Trolley tokens.

Balera House 62 Balera House 63 LaCrosse City Trolley Token

I was hunting along and received a low reading and dug up a smooth disk. Looking at it closely with my 10 power loop I noticed, I had just dug my first Shield Nickel. Enough of the detail was there to know what it was, but the date was gone. Several nice runs happened hunting this area. One was digging 14 (pre-1900) keepers in a row, another run of 24 keeper coins contained one from 1900 (the Barber quarter) and coins dated 1901 and 1902 (Indian Heads) these were the most modern coins in this area! The best 24 hour period I managed 25 older coins. Totals by the end of the hunting season were: (16) Liberty Nickels, (6) Shield Nickels, (4) 2-Cent Pieces, (6) Barber coins, (1) Nickel 3-Cent Piece, (11) Seated Coins of which (4) were from the Carson City Mint, and over 90 Indian Heads. Counting all coins that I consider keepers I reached 169 coins. Of these 124 were pre-1900. This made the pre-1900 percentage just over 73% for the year. An interesting footnote was I only dug 3 Mercury Dimes during the season.

1869 2 cent piece 1873 3 cent nickel

Some coins come in bunches others come one at a time. I hunted this spot sometimes twice in one day. Before work after work (the night hunts). If I managed just one, it was a good hunt. I hope this story helps others to decide to check out that old torn up sidewalk. If you do, you might get a nice surprise. Your oldest coin, a token, maybe even the rare gold coin. Who really knows what bounced between the cracks of those old wooden boards walks long ago.

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