Winter Nourishment…

For a great many of you it’s winter time, and while I am pretty much free of having to deal with it in any big way, I do remember the long frustrating days of detecting withdrawal.  So if I may, let me offer a few suggestions that might help with the winter doldrums .  They are not new nor earth shattering but as you know, neither am I…


Okay the ole “spend time at the library” has to come first. I don’t care how long you sit in front of your computer and stare at the screen, your local library has material you will not  find online. So grab a pad and pencil or your laptop (almost all libraries have wi-fi), pick up a cup of coffee at Starbucks and head on down. Once you get there, find the research area, make yourself at home and don’t be afraid to ask for help. I am willing to bet the research person knows where the good stuff is kept.

So where do you start? Well I would go with community, county and state history, and no matter how much you hated history in school, this is different. No one is going to test you and remember you have a long cold winter to make sense of it all. It’s also okay to skim pages and look for the more enticing bits and pieces. Take notes of anything at all that you think might prove useful to you down the road. Somewhere in the garage I have a couple of the old traditional black & white splattered composition books filled with info that I spent many a night reading.

If you are lucky maybe your neck of the woods had a part in the Revolutionary or Civil War. If so there should be a great deal of material relating to battles, skirmishes, camp sites, forts and the like. Guessing too that there will be a few old maps pertaining to these events as well.

Next do make sure you check out the various community ‘celebration booklets’ that might be on the shelves. It was quite common years ago for communities to publish Centennial and/or Bi-Centennial souvenirs. They were almost always filled with old photos and offered “fond looks back” by seniors that often included:

  • Locations of schools and churches they attended
  • Where they gathered to play and have fun while growing up (sledding, swimming holes, lakes, etc.)
  • What social events (carnivals, fairs, picnics, church suppers) they enjoyed and where they took place
  • How and where the community celebrated the holidays
  • What sports they participated in and where the games were played

I also suspect that your local library has one or more “Arcadia” books on hand and they are extremely good for finding a new site or two.  I personally own ten of them…four from my old stomping grounds in New Jersey and six that relate to the Dallas area.  Go to their website and type in the names of towns and cities near you and see what pops up. I highly recommend these books.


Just a few of the Arcadia books I own…


Be sure to check out the library’s maps and plats. Here again there are a lot of these that are not online. If you find any you like, see if you can photocopy.  While perusing these documents don’t be surprised if you see a few road names that are not familiar to you. Make note of them because there’s a possibility they are nothing more than overgrown lanes or paths today (IF progress hasn’t already taken its toll). The same for unfamiliar town names. Years ago a community might have been nothing more than ten or twenty buildings and as times got tough or when progress passed them by, those living there moved on, leaving only foundations and cellar holes today. If you doubt that, ask  Dave Wise or Todd Hiltz!


This was “Picnic Grove Road” on a very old map…


Next? Old high school yearbooks. Pay particular attention to photos of outdoor sporting events (football, baseball, soccer) and activities. Many athletic fields of yesteryear were a far cry from what you see today. Look for bleacher areas, refreshment stands and admission gates. I hunted a field in Frenchtown, New Jersey that continually yielded turn of the century coins for many, many years.

Next enquire about older newspapers (the older the better). They may be on microfiche although today I suspect they have been transferred to hard disk. This task is very time-consuming but here too you can skim and cherry pick. Look for any mention of outdoor activities and be sure to check those published a day or two after a major holiday. Celebrations, fireworks, picnics, parades, etc., all attracted crowds.



Okay you now in the comfort of your own home, a stiff drink in hand and farting away at will. Turn on the ole PC,let your imagination run wild and get your treasure hunting juices flowing. Where to start? Go to Google, enter the name of your town or county then a few of the following….

  • Early
  • Centennial
  • Memoirs
  • Recollections
  • Outlaws
  • Abandoned
  • Bygone
  • Fairgrounds
  • Carnivals
  • Chronicles
  • Tales
  • Battles
  • Pioneers
  • Settlers
  • Parks
  • Education
  • Superstitions
  • Folklore
  • Picnic Groves
  • Church Suppers
  • Schools
  • Churches
  • Colonial
  • Amusement Parks
  • Early Maps
  • Forgotten
  • Robbers
  • Early Railroads
  • Beaches
  • Folklore
  • Drive-ins
  • Civil War
  • Revolutionary War
  • Mines
  • Ghost Towns
  • Airfields
  • Lodges
  • Military Bases
  • Indians
  • Founders
  • Settlements
  • Discoveries
  • Taverns
  • Stagecoach
  • Archaeology

A few other suggestions: Library of Congress (newspapers), Free Newspaper Archives Civil War Photos, and more More Civil War photos and USGS Maps.

Old topographical maps a treasure hunter's right arm...

Old maps offer new clues….

Finally you might also check out my previous exhortations at Research Links, Key Words and Winter Treasure Hunting



The winter months are also a good time to clean and catalog your finds from the year, and if you are so inclined, find a way to display them. Here are a few sites that might help if you decide to do so….

Coin Supply Express 

Fine Home Displays 

USA Display 

Civil War Trading Post



If you are still bored why not come up with a program that you can share with the various groups within your community….senior citizens (great source for new leads), scouting organizations, Lions club, Rotary, etc., just to name a few, and while you are at it why not promote the pastime at public events and celebrations? Set up a table with your detectors, finds, displays, manufacturer catalogs & promotional items, as well as information on treasure hunting clubs in the area.



Dan Hughes latest podcast is about getting permission to hunt someone’s property, and as usual he offers up a few very good ideas and suggestions.  Hope you will take a moment and give it a listen here.  Dan has a way of taking a topic and in just a couple of minutes, making it fun and easy to understand.  Thanks, as always Dan.



If you find yourself getting fatigued while swinging the coil, not to worry. Your prayers are answered. Check this out….







Just wanted again to share Ron Guinazzo’s latest project and ask you all to help by digging deep into your pockets and by passing the effort along to your friends.  It’s a chance to help a family facing a very difficult time and a great way to show them just how much detectorists care about friends and family…

Likewise, the more you spend, the better your chances to win a few really great prizes. 

Jolie’s Fund Raiser



Filed under Metal Detecting

14 responses to “Winter Nourishment…

  1. Love the Arcadia books Dick. They have several on Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. I had on Chicago’s park system, listed all the parks when the land was acquired and history of the park with photos that put me in in several “right spots” well worth the investment. Also thank you for sharing Jolie’s Detecting A Cure event and thank you too all that have donated in the form of prizes and cash donations. My family and I thank you.

  2. Dick,

    I have three words for this info: Awesome – Awesome – Awesome! Research will pay off with not only the quantity but also in the quality of finds.

    Not sure if you ever saw this article that Sondra (Mom) wrote a while back:

    Thanks for the post.

    — Daniel

  3. Ben

    Thanks for the great ideas. The research can almost be as fun as the hunt. I also find it even more rewarding when I find a spot that has great finds that wasn’t obvious if not for researching it. Have a nice winter guys.

  4. Thank you Ben…. I remember too how it is when you are the first to hunt a site that you discovered. I only wish I could experience it again. Maybe some day….

  5. Thank You for sharing the research tips and Jolie’s Story. I hope that you don’t mind, but I reblogged it in an effort to share and also bring awareness to little Jolie. Hope that your Thanksgiving is a good one. 🙂

  6. Big Tony from Bayonne

    Hello research Dick and happy turkey day to you and your family! On Friday morning – just start out thinking that your scale is ten pounds off and you will feel much better!

    I have started my research already and located a possible old hotel site from 1875 to 1955. Hopefully it turns out better then that old school you mentioned and I spent several hours at on top of a hill in West jersey. Really no dig there. I just might have configured my settings incorrectly. Recently I changed my settings and found a bunch of stuff before the upcoming snow….right before turkey day travel.

    Why do “no cash value tokens come out of the ground looking like they were just made? This token is shinny to beat the band. You know the type that has an eagle on the back and if you drop it on a counter it sounds just like a silver quarter.

    Lastly…go out to your garage and find those note books, then send them off to me. I’ll pay the postage and send you a few bottles of Merlot!

    • Tony I’ve set that damn scale back so many times it’s springs are gone. As for Lambertville High School, it’s been completely torn down now and completely off limits from what I’ve heard.

      No answer on the tokens….see if you can pass them in the slots or vending machines. Then again I suspect you already have….

      And….the notes and ideas in those old books are probably useless now. I followed up on all of them and suspect a great many of them are paved over today.

      Hope you and your family have a great thanksgiving and incidentally, you could still send me those bottles of Merlot. I mean what are friends for?

  7. Big Tony from Bayonne

    Dick, hand written old books are always kept close to the vest or written in secret code.
    The high school was torn down when my friend Tom and I visited that day. As for off limits, one of the neighbors told us to get off if we weren’t doing any construction. It might be worth another try.

  8. If you go back there you are on your own. From what I’ve gathered it’s completely torn down now but I will check and email you.

  9. Brad ( dew sweeper894)

    Thanks again 365 guys for a great read, winters can be long in Wisconsin and this artical is just what I needed . HH

  10. Brad, thanks but I am not the “365 guys”….think you may be thinking of another site?

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