Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Back to Your Roots!

Hey Rick. 
I am out of town and off the grid but I would like to post on the blog an experience I had this week. I will send you some pics for the post. 
"Back to my Roots"
While I have seriously collected bottles for 40 years, it is very rewarding to have an experience that reminds me WHY I love bottles so much. 
The title of this post has a double meaning. First the amazing history of bottles that I extracted from the ground, and the massive tree roots I had to deal with for this dig.
Got Roots?
While these pontiled bottles are not valuable in dollars, the incredible Gold Rush history is priceless. 
While exploring an historic 1850s -60s area of heavy mining activity this week, I located a few square nails in the absolute middle if nowhere with my Garrett AT Pro. Not a building for 50 miles but this area at 6500 feet elevation is well known for it's history and importance in the early days. After determining the perimeter of the site, I gently probed the area in a grid pattern and determined the hard pan and strata. One spot was a bit softer and the probe sank 3 ft vs the 18" everywhere else. I began to dig the spot and almost immediately found small shards of a cathedral pickle, pottery and a few square nails........
 A glovely little ink!
 Then a green panel from a square as well as an aqua medicine top. Then a crude open pontil umbrella ink popped out! It is whittled and pristine glass! I was stunned to be holding this piece of history. After cutting, chopping and hacking more roots, I saw a huge topped spice sticking out. It came out perfect and undamaged. Next a free blown pontiled wine in perfect condition. The shallow pit was sparse but a nice china bowl came out also in perfect condition as well! As darkness and oppressive heat took their toll on me, I decided to finish the pit next time I go back which will be in a few weeks........... 
 Now the gloves come off!
I love to collect the heavy glass but this little group of 1850s glass was more rewarding than any of the "mega bottles" I have handled. 
Dale M.
 Whittle, Whittle, Whittle!
Ahhh....The Spoils
Great dig Dale. Its tough to find em' up in the High Country - rs -


  1. Congrats, sounds like a fun dig. I know a few Gold Country guys that often go years between privies, well done ! Was your site populated through the 1860s or was it just an 1850s camp ?

  2. Thanks! There is just something about extracting such early glass in this particular environment. This site was very active from the mid 1850s through the 1870s. I found a panel of the second variant Renz in old amber in another layer about 50ft away. In the past, I have dug everything from intact blacks, spices, and pontiled stuff to three broken Laurel Crown fifths. Sealed wines, pontiled meds and two broken London Jockey squares. The roots just destroy many of the bottles. I have two more pits probed out so hopefully in the next few weeks, I can finish this hole and test the others. DM

  3. you want roots!!! try digging a 22 foot crapper in a grove of redwoods. The bottles were so tightly wrapped in roots both inside and out, each had to be cut free with small clippers.
    I was like digging in brillo pads.

  4. Back in the late 1990's I dug a trash dump in the old ghost town site of Excelsior. The Oak tree roots had captured most all of the pontil era bottles in the side hill dump. We dug for days trying to get out a Crowell Crane and Brigham Sarsaparilla and Yellow Dock, Chestnut Grove Whiskey and a large size Sand's Sarsaparilla. I ended up breaking all three bottles and my heart. I just couldn't get the roots out from around the bottles. I even tried some late afternoon hydraulic work to free the soil from the area.

    Sure I recovered some bottles downhill from the roots but the good ones were impossible to get out without breaking them. One of the more frustrating digs of my past.

  5. Wow! That would be heartbreaking! I will bring a gallon of Roundup and nuke the trees. At least the roots will not get any bigger...When I go back shortly, I will bring back a mint CC&B Sarsaparilla :) Ok I am day dreaming.

  6. Did most of the trash in the camps end up in the dumps instead of the privies ?