We know "metal detectors" and "cool" aren't typically used in the same sentence, but rock with us on this one.
Imagine if you found something really undeniably awesome. Would it make the hours of pacing and searching worth it?
Reddit user heloooreddit asked :
"People who metal detect, what's the coolest thing you've found?"
As someone who lives in S. Florida and has really only seen metal detectors used on hot, sandy beaches, I can confidently say it would have to be really very insanely cool and/or adorably heartwarming in order for me to decide being out in that heat and getting sweaty and likely sunburned was worth it.
Read through the things Reddit has found and see if it would be worth it for you.
A Whole.... Town.
"My buddy and I set out to find an old gold mining camp. We followed the maps and were in the right place when we discovered that the town was actually on the other side of a canyon. We had to beat our way through some 12' brush and then started finding things everywhere."
"He found a pocketwatch right by the side of the old wagon road. We realized that the entire dump was still there. Like the place had become forgotten and finally recorded on the wrong side of the creek years before. We actually stopped hunting and told the Forest Service. We met and took the archaeologist up there. He was floored because everything was still in context. Felt pretty good about finding a whole town."
"Here I am prepared for some wedding ring, or a casual coin. First comment: 'we found a town' ."
"Thanks for leaving as is and not taking what isn’t yours."
"I work with a bunch of archaeologists. They would just be drooling over getting to be involved in a dig like this."
A BombDr Strangelove Movie GIFGiphy
"15 years ago, me and my siblings found bomb from World War II in the Belgian Ardennes, using a $30 toy metal detector."
"I remember walking off-road in the woods for hours until we found a spot that looked like nobody has been there in ages. We quickly found a couple of bullets and, while I was inspecting the bullets, my younger brother age 9 saw something sticking out of the dirt."
"At first, we thought it was a rusty metal can, but when he pulled it out, it took us a moment to realize that he was holding a bomb. We didn’t know whether it was still intact so I instructed him to slowly put it down in way that it could not roll off the hill and hit something."
"We didn’t have any mobile phones so we rushed to the nearest road which we followed to get to a village to get help. We marked the trees so we would remember where we had hidden the bomb."
"When we arrived at the village, we explained what happened. Luckily, they believed our story and called the local police. When he arrived, we couldn’t understand a word he said (he was speaking French, we only spoke Dutch) — but eventually he would follow us deep into the woods."
"When we arrived, the bomb was luckily still there, and after an inspection by the police officer we were instructed to leave as apparently it was too dangerous and had to be picked up by the bomb squad — but not before we snapped a picture for the local press, posing with the bomb next to us. I still have that picture."
"This is fantastic, what a story and great you have the photo"
"I went with a friend who's big into his detecting to see what he gets up to, we spend a solid 6 hours in this one field which he was adamant used to have a roman farmhouse."
"Just before we were going to give up for the day, and to be clear we had found the odd roman coin which was really cool in itself, we stumbled across what seemed to be really big. Anyway, long story short we dug down amd found a selection of roman agricultural tools set out in a relatively neat formation."
"My friend has since gone back and found further tools as well as a huge haul of coins.
This will be really underwhelming for a lot of people but the historic tools were really cool"
"Wouldn’t have been underwhelming for me. Sounds awesome"
"Underwhelming? Hell no, that's wicked! In fact I'm sure a lot of people would love to see some pics!"
Another Big FindHistory Blacksmith GIF by Age Of Empires CommunityGiphy
"I found a blacksmith’s shop in the middle of a farmers field. I was detecting for a historical society and their local expert told me to detect a certain spot that he calculated where the blacksmith shop would be."
"I did a 10x10 foot area with only finding small pieces of slag. I wasn’t convinced that the shop was there, but the expert wouldn’t have it."
"While everyone took a break at noon. I started a spiral pattern going farther and farther from his calculations. About 30 minutes later and 100 feet away, I got good strong signals and large slag pieces. I even found a single clay brick. One of the society members started an excavation at my spot."
"They eventually hit the corner of the shops foundation. They found a hammer and tools for the anvil and the rest of the blacksmith shop."
"That's awesome. Good on you for using 'trust but verify' for the calculations"
Not A Tank
"Using a Schonstedt metal detector to determine the absence or presence of an underground heating oil storage tank in Morristown, New Jersey I found a subsurface object corresponding in size to a 550 gallon tank (4’x6’)."
"I obtained a municipal permit for removal, subsurface utility mark outs and when I excavated I discovered the object was not a tank but a cache of revolutionary war era cannonballs."
"I totally thought you were about to play us with a really boring story."
Two Decades Worth
"Been at it since 1999."
"I've found a lot of stuff so what would be the coolest find would be subjective."
"I've found a few gold rings , silver jewelry, silver coins, civil war bullets including a couple of possible 'bite' bullets and one union cavalry button."
"Top finds would be... several silver half dollars (Walking liberties from the 1940s and ben franklins from the 1950s). my oldest coin find (an 1853 seated liberty dime) , my only seated liberty quarter (1877), my three gold rings (one that has 25 small diamonds, another that is a wide band wedding ring with three initials carved into the outside with inlaid silver metal, and an old Herf jones graduation/school ring that is basically a blank... nothing carved into it), an uncrushed 1930s silver thimble (most found thimbles are crushed)."
"I've never found a gold coin or a silver silver dollar or a pocket watch, or a two cent coin, or a three cent coin. :("
"I live in Missouri so finds for the area will not be as old as say in the New England states. I DO know one guy who found an 1801 large cent in Kansas."
"I've found nearly every kind of coin from the 1850s to present day (barbers, wheaties, seateds, indianheads, standing liberties, etc. etc..). Only exceptions would be gold coins and silver dollars and some half dollars. I've posted some pics in my past AMAs and other posts so if you search my name and metal detecting or metal detector on reddit you will find them."
"Username checks out."
"Literally only did it once with a friend when I was a teenager at a beach with a friend (he and his dad were really into it). We found a $20k watch in 1995 dollars."
"Wasn’t a Rolex, but can’t remember the maker. We took it to a jeweler who made a few calls and found out it was in a registry and the owner was called. He was elated as it was a gift from his wife. He sent us each a check for $1,000."
"The jeweler gave us each a b*tchin fake gold chain on the spot. Jean shorts and high tops need the perfect neck accessory and we got it!"
"So neat that you were able to find the original owner!"
"Not only did you do the right thing, you got a good reward for it too. That's pretty awesome."
Some Lovememories photograph GIF by Good Deed EntertainmentGiphy
"I used to live near the railroad tracks near an airport and an old industrial area. They used to have a local station for the workers to shuttle into the area (late 1800's, early 1900's). They eventually tore down the station in the 30's/40's when the highways got built nearby."
"My dad used to take me with metal detectors and we would find railroad spikes, pocketwatches, wrist watches, old silver dollars and other coins."
"Best haul by far was a gold locket with a picture of someone's wife/girlfriend ensribed 'All My Love, Annie'. It wasn't the prettiest locket, but you bet your bottom dollar someone was kicking themselves for losing that precious treasure."
"All i can think is someone suffered a bad breakup and chucked the locket out of the train haha"
Gold, Gold I Tell Youepisode 12 gold GIFGiphy
"Not my thing, but my brother was detecting just downstream from a popular swimming hole on the American River in California a couple of years ago, looking for dropped watches, phones, go pros, etc. Got a hit, flipped a rock, and found an 11.5-ounce gold nugget underneath."
"Miners tore the hell out of those rivers back in the 1849 Gold Rush, and amateurs have been panning it ever since, so it was pretty freaking incredible to find something that big."
A Cherished Find
"I was detecting on a beach and a desperate South African man approached and told me he had lost his necklace his mother (now deceased) had given him when he was young."
"His friend had wrapped it in a towel and gone swimming. Then upon returning, flicked the sand out of the towel with the necklace in it."
"He had to go home for the day, but I searched where he told me he was sitting. 15 minutes later, my metal detector went absolutely nuts for this beautiful silver chain."
'I said to him that had he not asked me to look for him, I would have definitely found it later that night long after he had left with no way of contacting him. Crazy how life works like that."
"Aww, that was really kind of you. I'm so glad you found it!!"
Out Of This World Find
"I've found a meteorite in Kansas. There is an area outside of Greensburg that is known to have had a meteor explode in the air before hitting the earth and dozens of smaller fragments are scattered over many miles."
"They are very deep and a lot of work to dig up, but my dad and I dug a 7 foot hole and extracted a nearly 30 pound stony-iron pallasite meteorite, which is worth nearly $2,000 a pound."
"You made 60k?"
"15K. Half to the landowner and then the other half split between me and and my dad."
"I guess you won't have to fear Sidhe. You could even make a cold iron amulet and bind it to your aura and run around the world having adventures with your Irish Wolfhound!"
American Historynative americans indian GIF by Vintage 3DGiphy
"A couple of historians found some old journals about a battle in the Indian wars and started to theorize that it happened on the farm I grew up on."
"They have gone out on 4 wheelers with metal detectors on sleds and found canon shot and canon balls. At one point where the soldiers started euthanizing their horses they found a row a slug with four horse shoes. Somewhere there is a canon, 2 Gatling guns, and a bunch of rifles that nobody has found yet."
"Where are you (in a general sense)? As in, Western Indian wars? Being from the eastern US, when I see 'Indian Wars', I think pre-Revolutionary War which were long before we became a country and long before Gatling guns."
"But, if you are talking post 1862 in the West (when the Gatling gun became available), that's pretty crazy. Damn."
"The fight was the Powder River Expedition. During the civil war Indians were pushed north from Denver into Wyoming and into Montana. Just after the civil war ended several thousand Cavalry and support were sent to squash the problem. They had civil war surplus which meant a canon with exploding shot and canon balls, 2 gats, and a lot of repeating rifles. They were expecting to hunt food on the way but this was the 4th year of a drought so they were out of supplies and their horses were starved."
"They found Indian scouts on the Powder River and skirmished a few times. The Indians led a charge once and were repelled by the first time encountering repeating rifles. They would wait until night and pick off soldiers that would attempt to leave camp to go to the bathroom. Both sides had minor casualties with the exception of a chief being killed by canon. Soldiers killed where buried in unmarked graves under the wagon tracks so they wouldn't be dug up."
"The Calvary caught up to the main camp on September 11. The Indians attempted to scatter the Calvary and go for the support wagons, but the Calvary's horse were too starved down. The Army then skirted the camp and set up their own camp close by. They were too scared to blanket their horses. That night a freezing rain came in and killed 100's of horse. Even more were put down at down and as they tried to leave their horses were dropping. They lost their canon crossing the river, and burned and buried their guns and walked out."
"Almost no record of this as it was a humiliating defeat. Only a few years ago a few logs turned up. I think there are two books on the subject. I have read one, my father and uncle were interviewed for one of them. I was helping with photography with the remaining historian, but we have lost touch."
"There were rumors of this growing up. The canon was a landmark in the river for decades. The main Indian camp was where my parents farm is, my family homesteaded there in the 1870's. Where the soldiers camp and the horses died is an old swimming hole. Between there are fields that we have had for years and it's highly unlikely to ever find anything there."
"I took a metal detector to my grandparents’ garden when I was 10 and found some Civil War canister shot. Goddamned if it didn’t get lost in a move a few years later. Never found anything as cool as that since then."
"To make up for that, I spent the next ten years poring over war-era battle maps showing the positions of each regiment and battery over the course of a particular major battle that basically crisscrossed the whole area, comparing with modern topo maps, doing serious deep dives into primary sources, etc."
"Eventually, I figured out the exact hill the grapeshot had likely been fired from, and the side that fired it."
"I’m glad I got to experience finding it, at least, even though it got lost. It played a big role in my turning into a big history nerd early on."
A Non-Cooking GrillRichard Kiel Smile GIF by James Bond 007Giphy
"My buddy and I bought metal detectors during lockdown and went to the local lake to hunt. I shit you not he found a silver grill. Not a barbeque, a set of silver teeth in the sand of the local beach. We quit metal detecting right then and there lol"
"Why’d you quit?"
"I quickly learned that metal detecting is more of a commitment than I was ready for. By that I mean that to do it well you need to go to a place where you are likely to find things, places of historical significance. While finding the grill was cool, walking around the local beach will only result in bottle caps and broken sunglasses."
"For me, I would have to drive like an hour to historic gold sites and I just don't have that level of interest. My metal detector was $40 at harbor freight, and it's actually come in handy a couple of times outside of going to the beach. I found a couple of nails in my driveway, which probably saved me quite a bit"
Grandpas WWII Plane
"Some German metal detecting / WWII enthusiasts actually found pieces of my grandfather’s B-24 Liberator that he was shot down in."
"They were able to ID the plane by its serial numbers. Miraculously, my uncle was on the same forum they were posting their finds on and connected. They sent my grandfather the pieces of his plane."
"Bet he loved that Airfix kit"
Modern Love Story
"A few weeks ago I was driving on a country road near my house. There was a car pulled over to the side and a young couple was walking around obviously looking for something. I stopped and asked if they needed help. The girl told me, 'We were arguing and I threw a ring out of the window'."
"Seeing the guy was beyond pissed, I told them good luck and I drove off. A few days later I got to thinking to borrow a metal detector from a friend who is into that. Went back and searched for about an hour, getting ready to call it quits when I found the ring. Sadly, I have no idea who the couple was and just hope they are OK now."
"What did you do with it?"
"Still have it. Definitely an engagement ring but on the lower end IMO. She was a hottie so he should be fine lol."
Some Juicy DramaSnl Queen GIF by Saturday Night LiveGiphy
"Usually just found lose change people lost at the beach. However, I did have to go find a diamond ring once. Wife of a friend who was currently deployed CLAIMS she lost it while at the beach with her GIRLFRIENDS. It took me a day, but I was able to find it."
"She was appreciative. It wasn't until he got back that I found out that she lost it because she was taking it off while dating other men. I hated her ever since for playing me like that."
"A perfect metal detecting story laced with juicy drama. This is why I bought a metal detector"
A Couple Cool Historic Artifacts.
"Bit of a cheat as was working a site on a uni course in Northern England. Discovered the end of a Roman Dagger and a relatively intact boot replete with nails. Also found a beautiful fragment of a glass bangle; beautiful turquoise blue glass with a bright yellow wave pattern painted on it. Fellow student found and urn full of silver coins. Jammy git."
"The criteria was people who metal detect, so you might fall under that umbrella."
"Fair point! Though there is a somewhat fractious relationship between archaeologists and detectorists... I don't know any archaeologists that would describe themselves as people who metal detect :)"
Okay yeah - we'll admit, finding a whole town or a stash of revolutionary era cannonballs would be pretty worth it.
Which of these would be most worth it for you?
Ever use a metal detector?
I always found the site of them rather funny. They were always used on the beach and the men who used them–yes, always men–were exclusively between 50 and 225 years old. I could probably write an award-winning academic thesis on it. Would be fun.
But as much as I kid, people have found stuff using these kooky contraptions.
We heard people tell their stories after Redditor TheRealJay asked the online community:
"People who metal detect on beaches, in parks, etc; what’s your best find?"
"Honestly the best thing i ever found was a metal mustard gas can, and now it is in a local museum."
That’s pretty cool, is there anything in the museum about how you found it?
"I got a cheap metal detector..."
"I got a cheap metal detector for my birthday when I was a kid. To test it out, I took some of my grandpa's coins from his coin collection without him knowing and I tossed them in the yard. Never found any of them. Miss you grandpa."
Oh dear... Why not just use some coins from, you know, like, a wallet?
"Never found much..."
"Never found much with a hand-me-down detector as a kid, but I did end up with the strange habit of burying my toy cars with little notes, with the intention that someone like me excitedly finds them one day."
How much digging did you end up doing in your yard for that?!
"My dad once found..."
"My dad once found an old toy car he'd played with 40 years prior as a kid. The property's original house that he had grown up in had also been demolished and rebuilt once or twice along the way"
That's pretty cool! And still it lived on, as if waiting for him.
Or maybe he just got lucky.
I know, I'm such a spoilsport.
"I found someone’s old rusted Hot Wheels in the dirt when I was 5 years old…one of the greatest experiences of my life. It was an old redline from the mid-'70s too."
A true collector's item! I can see how that might thrill a kid!
"He had lost it..."
"Someone with a metal detector found my husband’s high school class ring on the banks of a local river. He had lost it during a rowing event about 15 years prior. The guy contacted my husband’s high school and they tracked him down. I have the ring in my dresser right now!"
"My husband didn’t care too much but I was amazed by the work the kind stranger put in. I mailed him a Buffalo Wild Wings gift card."
"I was searching a different area..."
"I was metal detecting a beach just outside of Tokyo and found a platinum wedding band. I was searching a different area when a local came and mimed that he lost a ring. Within about 5 minutes I got the clearest, loudest tone I have ever heard and it happened to be the one he lost."
"His (new) wife was so happy and kept nudging him to give me something, he kept miming for drinks or cash but I turned him down. It was amazing to be able to actually find the owner, and I had never found anything of real value up until that point. The look of relief on their faces will stay with me until the day I die."
You're a good soul. This is a heartwarming story!
"I found an ox shoe..."
"I found an ox shoe on a road in the woods near my parents house that is documented as having been used prior to the Civil War. There are several home sites in the area as well."
Super cool! I love old historical finds like that.
"A custom white gold tennis bracelet lined with diamonds and sapphires. Literally everyone tried to rip me off for it so eventually I removed all the stones and would sell 2-3 links at a time for cash like some peasant from the Bronze age."
How much were you expecting, and how much would they try to offer you for it? I'm curious.
"As a kid..."
"As a kid: a handful of loose change, which a rude park employee confiscated. Apparently the rules against looting historical sites applied to coins I found in the parking lot."
That ranger probably wanted those coins for themselves and they trod all over you to do it.
Okay, it seems I might have misjudged all those old dudes with their metal detectors. They were clearly ahead of the curve making money, finding cool stuff, and reuniting people with their lost items while I sat there like a judgmental a-hole.
Too much? Yeah.
Have some stories of your own? Feel free to tell us more in the comments below!
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