I'm Diggin It

I’ve been metal detecting for eight years and I can tell you, I’m just as addicted to it now as I was when I first started.

Something about finding that first silver coin, hooks you. There’s a kind of child-like wonder in finding buried treasure. It is so exciting! It’s hard to explain the feeling you get when you dig a good signal and can see that silver reeded edge of a coin sticking out of a clump of dirt. That feeling never gets old. It’s the main reason I’m out there.

My best find ever is a silver 1865 Seated Liberty Half Dollar. Silver half dollars are very hard to find, so when I saw that silver edge sticking out, I got very excited. It was going to be a significant find no matter how old it was, but it didn’t stop me from praying, “Please be 1800s!” Boy oh boy, did it exceed my expectations! Texarkana became a town in 1873. I never imagined I would find a coin older than the town itself. I carried that thing with me everywhere I went for a week! It was “my precious.”

Just a few days ago, I found another one of my best finds. It was an 1870 copper nickel from Spain. Earlier this spring I found my oldest coin yet, a British half penny from 1862. You could replace the first word of Forrest Gump’s famous quote, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get” with “metal detecting” and it would be very fitting. The joy of metal detecting is not so much about what you find. It is more about what you COULD find. It is about the potential and the possibilities of what could await you in the next hole you dig.

Metal detecting isn’t as glamorous as it seems when you look on someone’s Facebook page and all you see are the latest and greatest little treasures they’ve dug. Most of the time you aren’t finding anything except pull tabs, iron nails, and shredded cans. You should see the back of my truck. It has about 400 pounds of all the undesirable things I’ve dug this last year. It’s a lot of work and a lot of sweat, most of the time, for little reward. Many times I’ve come home exhausted and have nothing to show for the hours and hours I was out there. You’ve got to have patience in order to persevere in this hobby. You can’t get too frustrated. Just keep digging signals and know that the good stuff will come, because when it does, all that hard work will be worth it.

Be optimistic. Most people who metal detect inherently all seem to have that trait. Most of them absolutely love it and are very enthusiastic about it. I think you’d have to try out metal detecting before you could fully appreciate the hobby. Once you dig your first silver coin, you will think to yourself, “Ok. I get it now. I understand your insane passion for wandering around an empty field for hours and hours, digging hole after hole like some over-grown gopher, looking for old coins some poor soul dropped 150 years ago.”

It really is funny when you think about how it probably looks to outsiders. I’m sure they think I’m some kind of weirdo when they ask me what I’m doing, and I tell them I’m looking for old silver coins. Some are genuinely curious, though, and share my passion for Texarkana’s history. This hobby has allowed me to meet some interesting people that I never would have known otherwise. It is especially good to listen to the old timers because they can sometimes give good info on a new location you never knew existed. Finding old relics from Texarkana’s past is really only part of the fun. The other part is taking the item home to research and find out more about it. I’ve found many things like old silverware, tokens, rings, old round ball bullets, lantern parts from the 1800s, antique brooches and advertising pieces of businesses from Texarkana’s early days, which are all fascinating to me.

You wouldn’t believe how many relics of our town’s past we walk right over every day. Just beneath our feet there could lie a 150-year-old quarter that meant a great deal to someone who regrettably dropped it years ago. Every old coin and object dropped has a story to go with it. I wish the story came along with the discovered items, but all we can do is speculate and ponder who this person was and how this little treasure found its resting place here on this spot. Great things can be found anywhere.

Another one of my best finds came from the ball field at my church in Wake Village. Greenfield was the main baseball field for Wake Village, starting back in the 40s. I was hoping to find some silver Roosevelt or Mercury dimes or maybe even a silver Washington quarter if I was lucky. I was detecting right around where first base would’ve been and got a really nice signal. Three or four inches down, lo-and-behold, I pulled out a silver Barber quarter from 1893! I was ecstatic! I called my dad right there and told him the good news. This was when I first started detecting too, so I was in awe and thought it was the coolest thing. Those coins are very hard to find. To this day I still haven’t found another Barber quarter. I’ve found about ten Barber dimes and even two Barber half dollars, but no quarters. Wake Village wasn’t even around before the 40s so to make a find like that was pretty special. You can’t ever count a place out because you never know who or what was there long ago.

I’m really thankful I have a hobby I’m passionate about and can enjoy forever. I don’t see myself getting burned out soon. During these crazy times, with all that’s going on, it’s nice to have something I can get out and do by myself that I really enjoy-just me and my detector. It really is therapeutic for me. 40 or 50 years from now, if you see an old man wandering out in an empty field with a metal detector, stop and ask if he’s found anything good that day. Hopefully, I’ll have something to show you! 


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