Thursday, April 3, 2008

Ghost Towns

Treasure hunting in and around the locations of ghost towns can be fun and even exciting at times. You never know what you will find and you almost always have a chance at stumbling across a small cache, whether it is from an outlaw gang that used to hang out in the town or from one of the residents or business owners who lived in the town. Most of the locations of ghost towns are now private property and if you approach the landowners right you can probably get access to the property.

As with any treasure hunting venture, doing your homework is essential. You will want to find the exact location of the town. This can be accomplished by doing research at the local library or the state historical society. The state historical society might even have old town plats showing exactly where different buildings were. Once you think you have the location pinpointed, make sure you ask around in the area where the town was supposed to have been. There will always be somebody still living in the area that will know exactly where the town was and probably where most of the buildings were.

Once you know the location and have your permission to hunt, it’s all about knowing what you want to find. There is a multitude of things that you can find in a ghost town. You can look for old relics from the buildings or businesses, individual coins, small caches, tokens or even Civil War relics if the town fits the time frame. For the intrepid hunter that wants to do a lot of digging you can even search for the locations of the old outhouses and dig for bottles. Some bottles are worth a lot of money and could pay for a really nice vacation!

Again, this gets back to doing your research. Find out where the buildings were, how many buildings were in the town and what the buildings were used for. This will all be important information about where you want to detect or dig. If you like looking around the old homes, or where the old homes use to be, make sure you check the obvious spots such as around the base of any big trees where people would have set or even buried a cache. See if you can determine where the clothes-line was. If you are looking for old coins, underneath the close line is one of the best places to find them. See if you can’t figure out where a flower or vegetable garden used to be and detect there also. The places to search in a ghost town are almost endless.

Now you are probably wondering how do I find out where a ghost town is. Again, research! Most states have a map or book or both published by somebody about the ghost towns in that state. Some of these are more detailed than others but they are enough to get you started. Once you have a few towns you think you want to check out then do the additional research at the county courthouse and/or the state historical society. I would say that you should research more than one town because you may be denied access to the property or it may turn out that there is something else, like a pond or lake there now.

Let me get you started with a ghost town in Oklahoma. This town was known as Lenora and it was located in Dewey County, in Section 13, Township 18 North, Range 18 West, to be exact. Lenora was known by its residents as the “pearl of the prairies”. The town was established in 1892 and had it’s first post office by 1896. By 1900 the town had a population of almost four hundred people. The town had several businesses including three general stores, a meat market, a drugstore, a hardware store and a lumber yard to name a few. Oh, and I might also mention the two saloons, one known as the North Star Saloon. There was also a hotel, known as the Hotel Daisy.

Lenora had three of it’s own newspapers, the Lenora Leader, the Lenora News and the Lenora La Pearl. (Finding copies of these papers could be very good for your research.) Even though the town was a bustling metropolis it eventually succumbed to progress and closed it’s post office in 1955.

Some of the old buildings are still standing, including a schoolhouse, a church and one of the old stores, at least 30 years ago they were. The church continued to be used for 20 years after the town closed but I don’t know if it still is in use today or not. Always make sure you get permission to hunt first!

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