Howland and the Pendulum…

John Howland,  proprietor of the Malamute Saloon just posted an article about dowsing, and I will  be interested to see what sort of responses he gets. It’s an area that isn’t talked about much, and I am somewhat mixed in my beliefs.  I know the old coat hanger thing works (I have witnessed it more than once).  I have never tried dowsing a map however, but it might be fun to give it a try, especially given my current situation….

John Howland, bartender at the Malamute Saloon, (see link above)

John Howland, bartender at the Malamute Saloon, (see link above)

My mentor and first partner,  Joe Attinello, was a strong believer, and had many stories to share about his experiences. Wish I could remember them. Perhaps I can give him a shout, and see if he is up to telling them again.  Joe is now in his late 80’s, and not all that excited about the computer age and the internet.

If you’d like to add your two cents worth to this topic, or if you have had experience with dowsing,  please comment here on this page. You can read John’s latest by clicking on the Malamute Saloon above, and scrolling down to today’s date.



Received the most recent Western & Eastern Treasures magazine, and there on the cover looking just as dapper as always was my good friend John Punola. John and I go back a long, long time. Aside from writing for the magazine for many years, we are also both New Jersey natives, and have shared adventures over the years.

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John’s latest article was of particular interest to me in that it was about a site that I had hunted years ago, and had not given much thought to of late.

Lewis’s island is separated by the Delaware Canal and Delaware River in my hometown of Lambertville, New Jersey. It was a place where I spent many afternoons swimming with my friends (and every once in a while imbibing a few spirits in the evening). During the late forties and early fifties maybe a hundred people would line it’s banks daily during the hot summer months.

It was also home to the Lewis Shad Fishery, and every evening the boats would go out, lay the nets, and then slowly bring them in, with hundreds  of fish jumping and flipping all over the place.  That was of course IF the shad were running.  The shad runs varied from year to year, and sometimes  the catches were not as abundant as in previous years.


John Punola at Lewis’s Island…..

Today the tradition continues, and if at all possible, do yourself a favor and make it a point to attend the yearly   Lambertville Shad Festival. Lots of activities, entertainment, as well as lots to eat and drink.

John, as usual, did an excellent job writing the piece, and in the process, found a few goodies, including two silver dollars.  I must admit to not finding much of anything  when I hunted the island.  Oh well, you win some and lose some.  If you are a WET subscriber I hope you will find time to read this excellent article….

Also wanted to give a shout out to Robbie Morin, whose fifth article is also in this month’s WET.  It’s titled “A City Park with a Past”. Geat writing here as well.  Robbie is friend of mine and hails from the Houston area. He also has a book out now titled  “Find More Silver Coinshooting Parks and Schools”.  Most everyone here in Texas knows him as “The DimeMan….


Thanks again to Eddy Current for the following articles…. 

Sunken Spanish Treasure  Found Off Florida Keys Enlivens Auction

DNA Confirms Bones Are King’s



Filed under Metal Detecting

20 responses to “Howland and the Pendulum…

  1. It’s now emerged that the arkies who found Richard III’s skeleton were working on a hunch!

  2. pocketspill

    I shudder anytime dowsing is featured close to any discussion about detecting. It belongs in the realm of ghost hunting and crystal balls in my book.

    Dowsing’s folklore is based on taking advantage of uneducated, rural people with stories formed around confirmation bias (remember the hits, forget the misses.) This paranormal woo is usually peddled by snake oil salesmen when times are tough, such as drought or economic desperation. taking advantage of people already down on their luck. I have also heard it was pitched to rural asians desperate for ways to find landmines – and predictable, tragic results.

    For hobbyists, please have at it. The odds are only better than random chance by your sensory intelligence. E.g. water can be found where the grass is greenest, gold where your experience (not the rods) say it should be.

  3. Robbie

    Thanks for the “shout out” , and mentioning my article and book. And while I was born in New England it was Connecticut not New Jersey……just to clarify. ;o) Must be one of those senior moments…right??? I am starting to get them quite often………


  4. Let’s see, an old technology that has proven itself over and over again, costs nothing and user friendly. There are no bells and whistles, just simplicity, simplicity, simplicity. Like anything there is a spectrum of dowsing and dowsers that fits any fancy. I use dowsing on cache sites, because that is how most likely they were cached in the first place. That does not keep me from breaking out the latest metal detecting technology and giving it a go either. I would just scratch my head if a relic and treasure hunter worth their salt ever turned down a tool that would work on a certain site, hunt or strategy. It is like going to war and refusing to use the stones found in the trench to do your enemy in with because it does not come with a manufacturer’s warranty and directions. Dowsing works, on certain sites, targets, and strategies.

  5. Harryjn

    Thanks for the dowsing article. I was interested in dowsing for quite awhile an I do believe it works. I tried it once at a FMDAC seeded hunt. I drew a map of the field and map dowsed it the evening before in my motel room. It told me where two tokens were located. The next morning I lined up behind the closest token and after about ten steps I found a token. I hunted about another forty minutes and found the second one where to pendulum told me it was, Clear across the field bout 20 feet from the edge of the hunt. I never expected to find a token at the indicated location and at that late time into the hunt. It scared the H out of me and I never did it again because I believed it to be cheating. Sorry but the tokens were not for the top 100 or grand prizes.

    Harry N.

  6. Hi Harry;
    I still can’t get my head round this, and I have to put it down to some kind of lucky strike, or, dare I say it, coincidence. Yet, deep down I know this stuff has ‘substance’ and works.

    John H

  7. Mike Smith

    Dowsing has been used for thousands of years and if used by a believer it works. Those with doubts will never get it to work. I have used dowsing successfully many times and know of many people that use it daliy. I believe it is a form of ESP and the rods, pendelum, forks, etc are just helpful tools in the process.
    It is like many things in life, even if you do not know how it works or why, if it works use it.

  8. Robbie

    Sorry ….I read it wrong——told you I get those senior moments too….;oP

  9. On the fence about dowsing. There could be people attuned to vibrations/smells/micro gravitational changes but so far, every person who I ever met who dowsed, turned out to be a sad person dying for attention and pretending to have a “special” skill that made THEM special. If the skill is repeatable and consistent, then it would lend itself to a simple statistical study. Having said this, I wish it was real.

    • Well, given that Howland believes it, you may be right. He has been craving attention for years, and after you meet him you understand why. Thanks for taking the time to comment David…hope you will continue to do.

  10. Ha! Well Ms Fairchild reckons there’s nothing like a well-swung pendulum…if you follow my drift!

  11. My pleasure Dick,
    please feel free to re-post any of the articles that I find…

    I agree with John H that $2,499 for a metal detector is quite steep, but what’s really taking the piss (pardonnez mon anglais), is to sell souped-up dowsing rods for the same price (see PMR-III for $2,495 at

    I can go with the fact that dowsing has been around many centuries longer than any ‘eddy current’ metal detector has and do understand that it has its followers, but when it comes to Long Range Locators and Molecular Frequency Discriminators I draw the line.

    Carl Moreland (head engineer at White’s) hosts an excellent forum to encourage the discussion on dowsing (see I would think that if there were anything to the dowsing principle at all, then White’s would be building LRLs and MFDs instead of VLFs and PIs.

    I believe that dowsing comes down to a combination of autosuggestion and ideomotor action. Which is probably also why the challenge, to win a $25,000 reward for anyone who can demonstrate that dowsing really works, is still ongoing… (contact me for details if you want to enter)

    –Eddy C.

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