Metal detecting is a thrilling hobby that enthusiasts have enjoyed for decades. Discovering lost treasures and relics from the past has a certain allure that is hard to resist. While there are many places to go metal detecting, one location often overlooked is near railroad tracks.
Railroads have been a vital part of our history, transporting goods and people across the country for over a century. As a result, the areas surrounding railroads are rich in history and potentially finds. You never know what you might uncover, from old coins and railroad spikes to lost jewelry and antique tools.
In this article, I will explore the hobby of metal detecting near railroad tracks, including how to do so safely and legally, common finds, and preservation considerations.
Why Metal Detecting Near Railroad Tracks is a Unique Experience
Metal detecting near railroad tracks is a unique experience for several reasons. Firstly, it allows you to explore areas often off-limits to the general public. Railroads are private property, and accessing them without permission is illegal.
However, with the right permits and permissions, metal-detecting enthusiasts can access these areas and discover the hidden treasures beneath the tracks. Additionally, railroad tracks are often located in remote areas, away from the hustle and bustle of urban life.
This creates an opportunity to explore the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape and uncover the historical artifacts hidden just beneath the surface.
Metal detecting near railroad tracks is also unique in that it offers a glimpse into our country’s rich history. Railroads played a significant role in developing the United States, connecting people and goods across vast distances.
The areas surrounding railroads are filled with stories of pioneering individuals and the struggles they faced in building this essential infrastructure. By metal detecting near railroad tracks, you can uncover relics that tell the stories of the people who built and used the railroads and gain a deeper understanding of our country’s history.
The History of Railroads and the Potential Finds
The history of railroads in the United States dates back to the early 1800s when the first steam locomotive was invented. Over the following decades, railroads expanded rapidly, connecting cities and towns nationwide. The railroads’ growth significantly impacted the economy and society, making travel and transportation faster and more efficient.
The potential finds when metal detecting near railroad tracks are varied and exciting. Old coins and tokens, as are railroad spikes, were used to hold the rails in place. Other items may be discovered include tools and equipment for maintaining the tracks, such as hammers and wrenches.
Lost jewelry and personal items may also be found and items lost or discarded by passengers on trains. These finds offer a window into the past and provide a tangible connection to the people who built and used the railroads.
Tips for Metal Detecting Safely Near Railroad Tracks
While metal detecting near railroad tracks can be an exciting adventure, it’s essential to do so safely. Railroad tracks are private property, and access is restricted. Trespassing on railroad property is illegal and can result in fines, arrest, or injury. To avoid these risks, obtaining the necessary permits and permissions is important before embarking on a metal-detecting adventure near railroad tracks.
Before starting your metal-detecting adventure, it’s also important to be aware of the potential hazards that may be present. Railroad tracks can be dangerous, with trains traveling at high speeds and without warning. It’s essential to stay well away from the tracks and never to cross them unless at a designated crossing.
Additionally, railroad property may be home to hazardous materials or abandoned buildings, which can present additional risks. Always be aware of your surroundings and take precautions to ensure your safety.
Legal Considerations and Obtaining Permission
As mentioned, obtaining the necessary permits and permissions before metal detecting near railroad tracks is important. This is not only a legal requirement, but it also ensures that you are metal detecting safely and responsibly.
The process for obtaining permission will vary depending on the location and the railroad company that owns the property. Some railroads may require a written request, while others may have an online application process. It’s essential to research the specific requirements for the area you plan to metal detect in and to follow all necessary steps to obtain permission.
It’s also important to know state or local laws that may apply to metal detecting. Some states may require a permit or license to metal detect on public land, while others may prohibit metal detecting altogether. Familiarize yourself with the laws in your area to ensure that you are metal detecting legally.
Equipment Needed for Metal Detecting Near Railroad Tracks
You will need a metal detector to get started with metal detecting near railroad tracks. When choosing a metal detector, it’s important to consider the type of terrain you will be exploring and the type of objects you hope to find.
A good all-purpose metal detector is an excellent choice for beginners, as it can detect a wide range of metals and is suitable for most terrains. More advanced metal detectors, such as gold or silver, may be necessary for specific finds.
In addition to a metal detector, you may need other equipment, such as digging tools, headphones, and a pinpointer. Digging tools are essential for removing soil and debris to reveal buried objects, while headphones help to block out background noise and allow you to hear the signals from your metal detector more clearly.
A pinpointer is a small handheld device that helps you pinpoint the exact location of a buried object, making it easier to dig it up.
Techniques for Finding and Identifying Railroad-Related Artifacts
When metal detecting near railroad tracks, it’s important to use the right techniques to increase your chances of finding artifacts. The first step is to research the area’s history you plan to explore. Look for maps and historical accounts indicating where railroads were located and the objects used in their construction and maintenance.
Once you know where to search, use your metal detector to scan the area carefully. Listen for signals that indicate the presence of metal and use your pinpointer to zero in on the object’s exact location. When digging, be careful to avoid damaging any artifacts that you uncover. Use a digging tool to remove soil and debris until you locate the object carefully.
Identifying railroad-related artifacts can be challenging, but resources are available to help. Look for books and online resources that provide information about the types of objects used in railroad construction and maintenance. Additionally, consult with other metal-detecting enthusiasts who may have experience identifying these artifacts.
Common Finds and Their Historical Significance
Metal detecting near railroad tracks can yield a wide range of finds, each with historical significance. Some of the most common finds include old coins, tokens, and other forms of currency. These items offer a glimpse into the area’s economic history and may provide insight into the types of goods being transported by rail.
Railroad spikes are another common find when metal detecting near railroad tracks. These spikes were used to hold the rails in place and can be found in various sizes and shapes. Other railroad-related artifacts that may be found include tools and equipment used for maintaining the tracks, such as hammers, wrenches, and pliers.
Personal items, such as jewelry and watches, may also be found when metal detecting near railroad tracks. These items offer a personal connection to the individuals who used the railroads and may provide insight into their lives and experiences.
Preservation and Ethical Considerations
When metal detecting near railroad tracks, it’s essential to consider preservation and ethical considerations. Many of the artifacts that are found near railroad tracks are historical and may be considered valuable. It’s important to handle these items with care and to avoid damaging them during the recovery process. Additionally, it’s important to follow any rules or guidelines set forth by the railroad company or local authorities regarding removing artifacts.
Ethical considerations also come into play when metal detecting near railroad tracks. It’s essential to respect the area’s historical significance and avoid disturbing cultural or historical sites. Additionally, follow any rules or guidelines set forth by the railroad company or local authorities regarding removing artifacts.
Stories of Successful Metal Detecting Near Railroad Tracks
Metal detecting near railroad tracks has yielded many exciting finds over the years. One such story involves a metal-detecting enthusiast discovering a cache of old coins and jewelry near an abandoned rail line. The coins dated back to the early 1900s and provided a glimpse into the area’s economic history. The jewelry was equally fascinating, with an intricate design that suggested it may have been handmade.
Another story involves a group of metal-detecting enthusiasts who discovered an old railroad lantern near a remote section of track. The lantern was in remarkable condition, with the original glass intact and the metal housing still polished and shining. Research revealed that the lantern might have been used on a passenger train in the early 1900s, adding to its historical significance.
Conclusion and Final Thoughts on the Hobby of Metal Detecting Near Railroad Tracks
Metal detecting near railroad tracks is a fascinating hobby that offers a unique glimpse into our country’s rich history. While the activity requires the right equipment, knowledge, and permission, the rewards are worth the effort.
The potential finds they are varied and exciting, from old coins and tokens to railroad spikes and personal items. However, it’s important to approach metal detecting near railroad tracks with caution and respect for the history and culture of the area. With the right mindset and approach, metal detecting near railroad tracks can be a rewarding hobby for enthusiasts of all levels.