Treasure Finds and Stories
One of the Best Adventures to Date
I answered a call from Gerry around dinner time. He asked if I wanted to go with him and a few friends detecting and old mining town. I knew I really couldn’t go, work was pilling up deadlines were looming, I said, “I will be at your house at 4 am.” As I hung up the phone I thought here is a chance to get out and detect with some guys who know what they are doing. I had purchased my E-TRAC less than a year ago and had moderate success with it, a series of short hunts around town finding a few silvers and a handful of wheat pennies. I didn’t have the time this summer to hunt too seriously. I couldn’t pass this opportunity up, I had to go.
We left the next morning early and drove for a couple of hours into central Idaho and finally arrived at our destination, the high desert. I was thinking to myself, “Really, this is it?” The area was dotted with large green sage and short yellow grasses on low hills with one lonely cottonwood tree perched in the center of a gully. If a person hadn’t done there research they would drive right by this place without a second glance. Stretching my legs after the long drive I walked five paces into the sage brush and looked closely at the ground. Wow, there was stuff everywhere, bits of purple and blue glass, small shards of porcelain and red lumps of brick protruding from the dust. Looking up and scanning in a slow circle I could make out flat areas where structures once stood and depressions that could have been dumps or latrines. This is definitely the place I thought to myself.
We grabbed our detectors suited up and headed off in all directions, each of us surfing the ground with small coils trying to pick up that sweat tone through the sea of iron. I was in dig it up mode, giving the boot to my spade at just about any tone that wasn’t nulled from iron. I spent the morning finding all kinds of metal artifacts that used to belong to something intact. I recovered harmonica reeds, parts of old lanterns, loads of tin and brass twisted and unrecognizable. Occasionally one of the guys would yell out, “Wahoo! A seated coin!” Everyone would rush over to check out the prized find. I wasn’t finding any coins but I didn’t care. I was having a great time finding loads of doodads.
About lunch time we all slowly meandered back to the truck for a bite to eat. The guys were passing around things they had found asking, “What do you suppose this is?” and getting back, “that’s got to be part of a lock plate,” or “part of a pocket watch.” I was dumping out my junk bag on the tail gate when Gerry picked up one of my junk finds and said, “Hey what have you got there?” I had no clue what it was, I remember digging it up and thinking it was an emblem or machine label. It turns out to be my first piece of rail road memorabilia, a Kansas Pacific Rail luggage tag. It was my turn for a big Wahoo, what a great find.
The Kansas Pacific line first adopted the name in 1869 and was eventually bought out in 1880 by the Union Pacific. The rail ran from Kansas City to the west, eventually ending in Denver Colorado. The tag has a maker mark of E. Hoole. N.Y. I often wonder how this tag made its way to Idaho. Was it on the luggage of someone searching for his fortune in the gold fields of the West? Was it attached to a piece of machinery hauled to the mine by horses from the end of the rail lines? I can only guess about its long journey to where I found it. I didn’t recover any old coins that day but I believe I came away with the big score. Thanks to Gerry and to Minelab, I was able to experience one of the best adventures to date.