Metal Detecting Railroad Tracks

Metal Detecting Railroad Tracks

‍Metal detecting is a fun and exciting hobby that has been around for years. It’s a thrilling experience to discover hidden treasures and artifacts from the past. If you’re looking for a unique way to explore the history, metal detecting on railroad tracks might be just the activity for you.

Not only will you have the chance to find valuable items, but you’ll also learn about the fascinating history of railroads and their impact on our society. In this article, I’ll explore the ins and outs of metal detecting on railroad tracks, including the legalities and safety concerns, necessary equipment, tips for finding valuable artifacts, and how to research and identify what you find.

The history of railroads and why they’re a popular location for metal detecting

Railroads have played a significant role in the development of our country. They revolutionized transportation and opened up new opportunities for trade and commerce. The first railroads in the United States were built in the early 1800s and quickly spread throughout the country.

As railroads expanded, they brought economic growth and sparked new industries, such as steel production and coal mining.

Today, many railroads have been abandoned and forgotten, leaving behind a trail of history and artifacts. These abandoned railroad tracks are a popular location for metal detecting enthusiasts, as they offer a unique opportunity to discover relics from the past.

The legalities and safety concerns of metal detecting on railroad tracks

Before you search for treasures on railroad tracks, it’s important to understand the legalities and safety concerns involved. Metal detecting on active railroad tracks is illegal and extremely dangerous. Not only can you be fined or arrested, but you also risk injury or death from trains and other hazards.

If you’re interested in metal detecting on abandoned railroad tracks, you’ll need to research to ensure it’s legal in your area. Some states and municipalities have laws that prohibit metal detecting on public or private property without permission. Additionally, some railroad companies may have policies regarding metal detecting on their property.

It’s also important to remember that metal detecting on railroad tracks can be dangerous. Abandoned tracks may be unstable and pose a risk of injury, and trains can still use active tracks without warning. Always be aware of your surroundings and stay safe from any active tracks.

Necessary equipment for metal detecting on railroad tracks

Metal detecting on railroad tracks requires specific equipment to ensure that you can find and recover valuable artifacts. The essential piece of equipment is, of course, the metal detector itself. It’s essential to choose a detector that is sensitive enough to detect small objects buried in the ground but not so sensitive that it picks up every piece of metal in the area.

In addition to a metal detector, you’ll also need a digging tool, such as a small shovel or trowel, to remove any artifacts from the ground. A pouch or bag to hold your finds is also necessary, as well as gloves to protect your hands from sharp objects and debris.

It’s important to invest in high-quality equipment, as it will not only provide better results but also last longer and save you money in the long run.

Tips for finding valuable artifacts and treasures on railroad tracks

Finding valuable artifacts on railroad tracks requires some knowledge and skill. Here are some tips to help you find the best treasures:

  1. Research the history of the railroad tracks you plan to search for. Knowing the area’s history can help you identify areas that may contain valuable artifacts.
  2. Look for areas where the tracks may have been repaired or replaced. These areas may contain discarded artifacts or items lost during the repair process.
  3. Pay attention to the terrain. Areas that have been disturbed or eroded may reveal artifacts that were previously buried.
  4. Use your metal detector to scan the area carefully. Start at low sensitivity and slowly increase it until you begin to pick up signals.
  5. Be patient and persistent. The best treasures may be buried deep in the ground or covered by debris, so it’s important to search the area thoroughly.

Common items found while metal detecting on railroad tracks

Metal detecting on railroad tracks can yield a variety of exciting and valuable artifacts. Here are some of the most common items found:

  1. Railroad spikes – These were used to secure the rails to the ties and are usually made of iron or steel.
  2. Tools – Various tools used in constructing and maintaining railroads, such as hammers, wrenches, and pliers, can be found.
  3. Coins – Coins from different periods, including those lost or dropped by passengers, can be found.
  4. Buttons and badges – Railroad workers wore these and can offer insight into the history of the railroad.
  5. Locomotive parts – Parts from old locomotives, such as bolts, nuts, and washers, can be found on abandoned tracks.

How to research and identify artifacts found on railroad tracks

Once you’ve found an artifact, it’s essential to identify it and learn more about its history. The first step is to clean the artifact carefully to remove any dirt or debris. Next, use a magnifying glass to examine the artifact closely and look for any markings or identifying features.

After identifying the artifact, you can research its history and learn more about its significance. Online resources, such as historical societies and museum collections, can be valuable sources of information.

The importance of preserving and documenting artifacts found on railroad tracks

Preserving and documenting artifacts found on railroad tracks is important for several reasons. First, it helps to protect the artifacts from further damage or deterioration. Second, it allows others to learn from and appreciate the history of the railroad. Finally, it allows us to contribute to the historical record and expand our collective knowledge.

If you find an artifact, it’s important to handle it carefully and avoid cleaning it aggressively. Instead, consult a professional or gently clean to preserve the artifact’s integrity. You should also document the artifact’s location, identifying features, and any historical information you uncover.

Resources for joining a metal detecting club or community focused on railroad track hunting

If you’re interested in metal detecting on railroad tracks, many resources are available to help you get started. Joining a metal detecting club or community can provide valuable information, resources, and support. These groups often have experienced members who can offer advice and guidance, as well as access to exclusive locations for metal detecting.

Online forums and social media groups are also dedicated to metal detecting and railroad track hunting. These can be great resources for connecting with other enthusiasts and sharing information and finds.


Metal detecting on railroad tracks is a unique and exciting hobby that offers a glimpse into the history of our country. However, it’s important to understand the legalities and safety concerns and invest in high-quality equipment.

By following these tips and guidelines, you can discover valuable artifacts and contribute to our collective knowledge of the railroad’s impact on our society. So, grab your metal detector, research, and prepare for an adventure on the tracks!

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