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Bottle Dump Digging At Old Cellar Holes and Ghost Towns


Bottle dump digging around the old cellar holes or ghost towns can be a lot of fun, and may even put some extra money in your pocket. Some very exciting bottle finds come out of these areas.

Years ago there was no such thing as recycling. Families would either toss their used bottles, pottery, or other items in a town dump, or somewhere on their property. Most often, those items were tossed right into the outhouse, or “privy”. And today, many of those old, discarded items are worth money as collectibles.



It has been said that “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” I for one believe in that axiom. For thirty-seven years I have been treasure hunting using a metal detector, attending flea markets, garage sales, house auctions, as well as bottle digging in old out houses, and dumps. And every old cellar hole, where a house once stood, has an outhouse close by. I have found treasures of all kinds not only for my collections, but also to sell for extra income. Bottle dump digging is by far one of the most exciting things I do to locate old stuff. Here are a few items you can find in old dump sites, near cellar holes, and in outhouses.

Old bottles, pottery and household items are things that are commonly found. Items like old soda bottles, wine bottles, and perfume bottles are increasing in value. The old, colorful glassware in green, blue, and red are always in demand, and bring a good price when sold. Not only can you find the old bottles and pottery while bottle digging, but I have also found old jewelry, and coins while bottle dump digging. The jewelry and coins were most likely at one time inside the clothing that was tossed into the dump. Over the years the material disintegrated, and the coins and the jewelry were left behind.

The old dumps are everywhere. Every town had one. Some towns shared their dump sites. The best way to locate one is to ask where they are. Really, it’s that simple. You can ask the town historian. Or ask any old timer in the area. If they don’t know, then ask the local town, highway department. Workers there usually know where the old dump sites were located. Once you locate the area of an old site, you need to make sure it is not on private property. If it is, ask permission to dig there. If the town owns the property, ask them for permission to dig there. Always get permission. Never remove old items or artifacts from State Lands.

The old cellar holes are located in many rural areas. Many of these places are now grown over with trees and scrub brush, finding them is not difficult. This next link explains how to find them. Bottle dump digging in these areas takes patience, but the rewards are well worth the effort.

The best tools to use for bottle digging are a small trowel, and shovel. You need to be careful so you don’t break any of the old bottles or pottery that is beneath the ground. Start by carefully scraping away the top portion of the dirt. As you move around scraping away the dirt, you will eventually uncover items. You may start to see broken bottles, or pottery. That’s a good sign. It means your working in a good area. Just keep scraping the dirt away and eventually you will locate bottles, pottery, or other items. Begin to dig away the dirt in this area, go slowly, and be careful, you do not want to break any bottles or pottery.  Remember this important point. The older items are always the deepest. Dumps or privy’s that have been used for years have the newer discarded items on the top of the dump. So it’s important that you eventually dig deeper for the older, more valuable items.

As I stated before, bottle dump digging can lead to extra cash. A good place to sell your found items is on eBay. Thousands of old bottles sell every month at that website. Other places to sell your items are at flea markets, garage sales, and to antique shops. You may not get rich, but digging dumps is a fun way to add some extra cash to your pocket.

And remember, do not dig on State or Federal Lands.

© Frank W. Pandozzi



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