Saturday, May 8, 2010

Pioneer pit-one bottle

Not all privies are created equal. Today's mid-afternoon dig proved that, again. The pit we had permissionized never happened, perhaps due to our "crack of noon" start. Saturday mornings are for "honey-dos", so neither of us were in any sort of a hurry. Well, we snoozed so we losed. LOL
The resident had boogeyed by the time we rolled up, so off we went to find something, anything, to dig. Both of us were tired of endless driving around town, staring at properties, so we decided to probe under a thick slab that runs along an alley. Poke, poke, poke, "tink", the sound of something out of place. Further probing told us that a very small pit lay just under the slab. It had crunch and some larger items could be felt, maybe glasseous vessels. Chuck opened 'er up and sure enough, it was a privy, and early, too. Too bad that the "crunchies" were pieces of window glass, and the solid hits turned out to be the bottles digger's nemesis, ironstone and busted yellow ware. BAH!! The bottom was "seedy" and all, but devoid of the bottles that we had hoped for. The ONLY salvageable items in that pit were a funky fat lipped food and a powder/shot flask, which is actually in better shape than most we find. Nicely embossed copper, it should clean up well. That hole was TINY. Maybe 2'X3'X2' deep, it had only small(quail?) bird bones and a few larger, "non-bovine" ones. There was a draw file, the bottom of an OP French mustard, and the usual fragmented pottery. As usual, I took nothing home, but had an hour's fun playing in the dirt. Our hopes are always up, so something has to break open one of these days. Time to "get out of Dodge", though, and visit some new territory, if there is such a thing.


  1. Awesome, Thanks for the Pics and Story. What a Kool find, the Shot Flask. So really, a lot of you guys up in Nor-Cal have been pounding holes for decades. There is a lot of serious diggers up in that area. How much do you really think is left, I am curious to hear any figures or guess ta ments. A lot of guys are talking a lot of pits every Month or so, for years, and that is just the guys who are known, there is a lot of closet diggers too. What do you think? DB

  2. Awesome shot flask, what a kool find. So a lot of you old time diggers have peppered Nor-Cal for decades. Digging massive amounts of pits per group. How much do you think is left? I mean, the amount of pits I read about being dug, I mean for years,, thats a lot of thrown dirt. Just Curious. DB

  3. Without a doubt, this area has been pounded hard for many years, but most diggers sought only the easy to find map holes, and weren't willing to do their research and look for the less than obvious earlier pits. Of course, obtaining permission is not what it once was. These days, everyone is in a panic over liability. The figure that if someone gets injured while digging on their property they will be sued for sure. Nothing could be further from the truth, but convincing some of these folks is a hard row to hoe, so to speak. We gotta try, though. Cold door knocking is not for the meek, but to find the undug privies, doing so is a necessity. I have at least a dozen pits probed out that are totally undug, but getting the OK to get to them is proving to be a challenge. You DO NOT walk into someone's yard without permission, yet alone crack the soil. Being totally on the up and up keeps us out of trouble with the law and in good stead with residents. I will spend at least two days this coming week pleading our case with homeowners and property managers. Homeowners are often easy, but the others are a totally different story. If I get "lucky" and talk to a young office manager, things usually work out, but the more experienced ones have suffered through the mess that is left by trespassing bottle hunters in the past, so don't want to hear about our requests. I'm still working on one old PM, because what he controls is key to several virginal 1860s-70s privies, especially some in the commercial zone. Keep on diggin' on.

  4. OldCutters,
    Thanks for the report. Up our way the ancient holes don’t seem to hold a lot of glass. Buckles, powder flasks, pipes, utility bottles and an occasional soda if you’re lucky seem to be the norm. Not to worry your days a-coming.