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Metal Detecting Old Abandoned House Sites


The countryside is full of old discontinued roads and old settlements that can be a boon to the metal detectorist. Many of these old discontinued roads have the remains of old house sites and the possibility of finding old coins and other valuable items. In my area, an old country road was discontinued in order to allow for flooding for a large dam that was being built in the 1920′s. Some of these old house sites from the 1800′s were flooded, but many remain anywhere from a few feet to a hundred feet from the water line. Also, many roads and house sites were abandoned many years ago when people migrated from their farms to find employment in the cities.

The treasure that awaits you at these sites is not limited to coins and jewelry. Many people dig for old bottles which some collectors will pay a hefty sum for. You can also find scrap metal such as copper at some of these sites. Most of these house sites had their own “dump” site where trash was buried (bottles, etc). These can sometimes be found by finding indentations in the ground within a hundred feet or so of the house site. Old unusable wells were also used to bury some of this “trash”.

But first you have to find these old house sites. Research is the key. Libraries and local historical societies often have old maps of your area. Some of these maps can also be found on line. Compare them carefully with more recent maps. You’ll be surprised how much an area changes over the years.

Now after doing your research comes the field work. Don’t forget to get land owner permission first. Locate the old road which by now may be over grown and look like an old path, ATV/snowmobile trail, or logging road. While traveling on that road, watch carefully for signs that an old house foundation may be nearby. Look for old rock walls and ornamental bushes and trees that may have been the landscaping for the home. Several times I have located foundations by finding large, usually dead or dying oak trees that frequently adorned the front yards. Sometimes the stumps are all that remain. Be sure to detect around these old trees!

Once you’ve found the yard and foundation, plan your search. Drawing a map of where the foundation, well, dump, etc. are can be helpful. Don’t limit yourself to detecting just in or around the foundation. In the old days, people didn’t trust banks and frequently hid their “cache” around the home. They would bury their loot next to foundations, an old tree, along a rock wall, near the well, at the edge off gardens, etc. Be sure to check out all these possibilities.

Because of all the metal trash such as old wiring, metal roofing, pipes, etc. in and around old foundations, I recommend that you use a small coil such as a 5″ coil so that you can work in between the trash. You may also want to set your discrimination high enough to eliminate a lot of the trash, but still find coins. Use a larger, deeper seeking coil in open areas such as the yard or garden area. Be sure to check out intersections where the driveway meets the old abandoned road. I once found a 1912 Barber dime and a friend found a large cent at one of these intersections.

Watch out for dangers such as sharp metal and broken glass. You also don’t want to fall into an old abandoned well! Plan your search well and with a bit of patience, you could do well. Best of luck!

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