Metal Detector Used: Other (621-0374)
It was a Friday afternoon and I had finally arrived home after a two hour battle with the notorious Washington D.C. "rush hour". Because of the gridlock many of us leave the interstates looking for a faster route on the secondary roads. This historic National site is actually two battle fields, the first one took place in 1861 and the second in 1862. The two battle sites overlap each other so the land mass preserved along rt. 29 is indeed impressive. I consider myself fortunate to have the privilege of passing by the cannons, bronze monuments, and granite statues erected to honor those who have fought and died for their beliefs.
On most days when I travel through the battle field, I feel relaxed and reflective as I contemplate the history that surrounds me. However on this particular day thoughts of the battlefield were only getting me more pumped up as I realized that in about an hour I'd be loading up my metal detector and heading off to check out a new Civil war camp site. I got permission to hunt for civil war relics there only the day before. All my old maps told me this was a very promising piece of real estate
However when I got home there was an urgent message to call Bob who lives in Connecticut. Bob had called me a few weeks before and asked me if I would take my detector to his fathers' old house in Westbrook Connecticut to look for coins. I told him that I would be happy to the next time I was up that way. Although I was in a hurry to get out to the new site, I decided to call him back before I left for relic hunting. Apparently Bob sold his late father's home and the closing on this shoreline house was on Monday, only three days away. About 3 weeks prior, Bob who is now in his late sixties, was walking around his childhood home reminiscing and remembering and had a memory that put him in an instant panic. He remembered that when he was about five years old he was down in the basement with his father and was told that he had buried some gold for safe keeping.
Because my detecting gear was ready to go, I packed a few cloths and was on the road within the hour. I have been asked to find lost rings, jewelry, even metal property lines and invisible fence for dogs with great success, but this was entirely different. Lost gold, buried treasure, just the thought of it felt like I was in an Indiana Jones story, a mystery, a novel once you start you can't put down. I arrived in Connecticut after driving through the night, stopping only for gas and coffee. I managed to get a few hours of sleep and headed straight to the site where I was met by Bob and my old friend Norman. After we greeted each other and talked briefly about our game plan I unloaded the equipment from the car. I turned on my White's 6000 metal detector, plugged in my head phones, and preceded to ground balance my machine in the front yard.
When we reached the basement we were standing, or should I say crouching, in damp Long Island sand. The basement was broken up into three different size rooms, separated by stone and concrete walls that seemed to glisten from the moisture protruding from the cracks. The illumination from our flashlights made our surroundings almost glow as we scanned the sandy basement for a possible starting point. After a short group meeting we decided to clear the area of debris and stack the junk in a corner of the smallest room.
Almost immediately I got a strong reading, the needle sticking straight up and that beautiful full tone in the phones that only a relic hunter can appreciate. The fact that I got such a positive signal right away caught me by surprise. Everyone quickly surrounded the loop and began digging into the soft sand. In seconds we unearthed a large diameter piece of brass. Certainly it wasn't what we were looking for, but if I was in a Civil War camp site It would have been something really nice, for the next two hours we unearthed a pile of metal to add to the scrap pile we started before the hunt. We dug up everything from old license plates to paint can lids, from galvanized strap to aluminum ice trays. After two hours we covered all three rooms at least two times and went back to check out several signals that I passed on the first time around.
As we drank our water and talked some more I told them that we had gone over every inch of that basement at least twice. The only place we didn't check is where we stacked all that junk. All of the sudden we started looking at each other and a huge goofy smile could be seen on all of our faces. Without saying a word we all started running for the house. All one could hear was laughing and screaming as we bolted to the bottom of the cellar stairs.. We started throwing the pile of metal debris to another corner of the room like crazy people. With three of us working the pile it was clean in a matter of minutes. I looked at both of them and the only thing I could say was "ready"? Both of them still had that silly grin on their faces, It was pure excitement.
I picked up my detector, ground balanced the machine and made my first pass over the last remaining unchecked area. As soon as my loop swiped the area, the needle and my head phones took off. There are letters on the White's 6000 metal detector that spells gold dead center on the dial. I looked at the needle after that first pass and the needle was reading between the letter "O" and "L" in the word gold. Between that and the sound in my head phones I knew that I had found it. However I didn't say anything that first pass. I clicked twice to make the loop smaller and took another pass. The needle stuck in the same place and the sound in my head phones was the sweetest sound I have ever heard. It was simply beautiful. It sounded rich! I looked over at the other two and I nodded my head and said" there it is". Bob handed me the shovel to "do the honors". I carefully inserted the shovel on the outside of the signal so I wouldn't hit any of the coins. I pushed it the rest of the way with my foot and in one move lifted the shovel straight up. As I picked the shovel out of the ground, sand and gold coins fell back into the hole. Coins were hitting other coins and the chinking sound they made was a sound that has been ingrained in my memory. We were grabbing coins, shaking hands and exchanging hi fives all around.
In all there were fifty coins, 1904 Double Eagles (no mint marks) 99.1 % pure, the coin value was upwards of $24,000 dollars. They were buried in a shammy bag around 1930 and remained there until that day. Believe it or not over 40 coins were rated in mint condition, 6 in near mint, and the rest were in good condition. I was quite happy when he gave me two mint condition coins. There is such a thing as gold fever because I experienced it. That night I couldn't sleep.