My wife and I were going to visit her family for Thanksgiving in Southern New York State. I had been watching The Weather Channel and unfortunately they were predicting snow for most of the days of our stay. I thought I would throw in my Minelab Explorer in the van in case the weather broke and I would get some time for detecting.
On the way up from Georgia, we started seeing snow on the ground in Northern Pennsylvania, which continued to our destination in New York. Depending on the location, we found around 1 – 4” of snow covering the ground. My wife decided to stay home and mingle with the family on Friday and cut me loose to go detecting.
The first place I tried was a one-room schoolhouse that my father-in-law had attended as a boy. Unfortunately it was very overgrown with weeds and had around 4” of snow over it. I did not stay long because of the conditions and decided to move onto a new location.
I decided to go down in elevation and further south for hopefully less snow on the ground. I went to a site in Northern Pennsylvania. My father-in-law had shown me this site about ten years ago. It was a triangular piece of land that presently was used as a town park and ball field. He said that there had once been a church and two houses on the land. The church had burnt down and the two homes were later torn down for the park. I had first hunted this spot with my Whites 6000 and several times later with my Whites Spectrum. The best coin that I had found here was an 1877 seated quarter. It was under a stone that was used as the home plate for the ball field. I had also found several barber dimes; Indian head pennies and a hand full of wheat's, so I figured there were still old coins in the park.
There was still about 1 1/2" of snow on the ground (about the same height as the grass). I had made the decision not to dig anything less than 4” deep to concentrate on older coins and avoid getting cold and wet as much as I could given the conditions. Even though the temperature had only been in the 30's for the last week, the ground was not frozen and was very easy to dig. Much better than the Georgia clay I’ve become accustom to.
I was on my fourth row of swinging before I found my first coin. It was a badly corroded 1891 Indian head cent at 6 inches! I had hoped there were some still hiding here! I went about another 10 feet and got another 6 inch deep signal. This turned out to be another badly corroded Indian head cent 1887! As I moved onward, I noticed that I had found both of these under a power line that ran over the park. My new Minelab machine was showing what it is capable of doing.
I had covered about half of the park and had only found four new cents and a new dime in one hole since the Indian heads. About ten feet from a large oak tree I got a nice high signal that was in the 6 – 8 inch deep range. I was hoping for a silver dime or quarter but could not believe my eyes when I saw the glint of a large silver coin! It was an 1899 Barber half dollar!
This was only the second barber half I have found in 25 years of detecting! J.R. and I were hunting an old school in Utah with my first detector in 1978 when I found a 1906 barber half. I have been seeing all these halves on the Explorer user web sites that people have been finding in hunted out areas and wondered how anyone that hunted an area could have missed a coin the size of a half dollar? Well, I guess I know why.
Shortly after I had found the half, one of the people from a house across the street came over to see how I was doing. He said that at least a dozen people (this was my fourth time here) including one of his friends had hunted the area. He was amazed to see that I had found coins like the half and Indian heads there.
About 3/4 of the distance toward the point of the lot I got another 6 inch deep signal. This turned out to be a large cent that was almost worn smooth. Guessing from the woman’s profile on the coin’s face, it is from the 1820 –1840 era. At this point, it was starting to get dark and I was pretty wet and cold so I called it a day. On Saturday, the weather was much better but I had dog-sitting duty while my wife and her mother finished our Christmas shopping for the relatives. On Sunday, we were meeting the family for lunch so I had a couple of hours in the morning and after lunch. The snow had all melted on Saturday but Mother Nature left me another 1 1/2 inches overnight for me. I hunted around an old home that was about be torn down for a new bank in town.
It must have been filled because I was finding new coins 4 and 5 “ deep and did not find anything old. After lunch, I went back to finish the old park/ball field. I hunted for about two hours but only got a couple of interesting “junk” items and some new money. We cut our trip short to return on Monday to beat the impending storm that later coated the Carolina’s with ice and snow.
Even though I only found four coins older than 1960, they were all over 100 years old and you can never beat that feeling of finding large old silver! I can only hope for more time and better weather for my next visit.
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