Digging dumps with hard soil? SW USA

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Bottleman100

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Here are some of my finds from yesterday mostly surface finds, the bottle in the middle is the closest I’ve got to a whole purple bottle.

I dig mostly in New Mexico and Southern Colorado, I have found multiple dumps that have had purple and aqua glass so pre 1920s, a lot of these dumps are in the desert in ghost towns. I try to dig where I see the most glass on the surface but usually the dirt is almost impossible to dig only a few inches down, could there be anything under the hard dirt or no? It’s kind of disappointing when everything is broken so you would think there would be good stuff underground but I’m not for sure if they would’ve even buried their trash underground when the dirt is so hard, it’s confusing to me also because I know of only one dump by a river which is extremely easy to dig into and I’ve gone 5 feet under, have found lots of good stuff but it’s from 1920 to 1950 so not as old as I want to find. It’s too bad to because they turned the even older dump to a lake long ago and have heard they threw all the bottles in the river. I know of one pre 1920s old mining town dump in the mountains have dug 2 feet under but everything’s broken but might try to go back soon to see if I have luck.

Anyways I’m just wondering if anyone thinks digging these dumps with extremely hard dirt will yield any good results. I also wish to hear advice from any bottlediggers from the SW but anyone’s advice is welcome

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Some more pics, does anyone know what these square bottles are called I love them though this is my only one which was found in NE NM the bottoms say aceite Mexico

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A Stewart’s bluing bottle found at the same dump has hard soil and everything’s spread out so not for sure where to dig, surface finds.
 

gdog68

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Im not from the SW, but I have a couple 1890s dump sites I have been to, with really hard soil(almost undigable). I usually have to wait until a hard rain to even think about digging, even then still really tough. You might be able to try and find an area with alot of surface glass and dig down as far as you can to see how deep the dump layer goes? Maybe probe the ground?
 

hemihampton

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I don't dig out west so don't have much advise. The only Advise I have is let me know if you find any old rusty dented beer cans. if any color on them may be worth some money & collectible? LEON.
 

Bottleman100

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I don't dig out west so don't have much advice. The only Advise I have is let me know if you find any old rusty dented beer cans. if any color on them may be worth some money & collectible?
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Here are some cans I found the past few months find one every once in a while not that old but they are fun to find
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Also adding some bottles I dug today cause why not
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Only beer I have though is Budweiser mostly sodas I find
 

Bottleman100

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Im not from the SW, but I have a couple 1890s dump sites I have been to, with really hard soil(almost undigable). I usually have to wait until a hard rain to even think about digging, even then still really tough. You might be able to try and find an area with alot of surface glass and dig down as far as you can to see how deep the dump layer goes? Maybe probe the ground?
Yeah I was thinking probing could work so I could know where to dig but haven’t got a probe yet, and I will probably just wait for it to rain, actually was thinking about bringing some water and a hose haha. Have you found any whole bottles at those dumps with hard dirt? Pics welcome. Also would you keep digging in a dump with broken glass it’s the closest old dump to me and had lots of purple, aqua, blackish green found some square nails too
 

gdog68

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Yeah I was thinking probing could work so I could know where to dig but haven’t got a probe yet, and I will probably just wait for it to rain, actually was thinking about bringing some water and a hose haha. Have you found any whole bottles at those dumps with hard dirt? Pics welcome. Also would you keep digging in a dump with broken glass it’s the closest old dump to me and had lots of purple, aqua, blackish green found some square nails too
It depends on if it is just a surface dump or if the dump goes deeper. If it's close to you it might be worth while trying to dig deeper or probing, never know what you can find. Alot of the dumps I go to have alot of broken glass. Pulled these bottles out today in a dump with a majority of broken glass.
 

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east texas terry

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View attachment 249118
Here are some of my finds from yesterday mostly surface finds, the bottle in the middle is the closest I’ve got to a whole purple bottle.

I dig mostly in New Mexico and Southern Colorado, I have found multiple dumps that have had purple and aqua glass so pre 1920s, a lot of these dumps are in the desert in ghost towns. I try to dig where I see the most glass on the surface but usually the dirt is almost impossible to dig only a few inches down, could there be anything under the hard dirt or no? It’s kind of disappointing when everything is broken so you would think there would be good stuff underground but I’m not for sure if they would’ve even buried their trash underground when the dirt is so hard, it’s confusing to me also because I know of only one dump by a river which is extremely easy to dig into and I’ve gone 5 feet under, have found lots of good stuff but it’s from 1920 to 1950 so not as old as I want to find. It’s too bad to because they turned the even older dump to a lake long ago and have heard they threw all the bottles in the river. I know of one pre 1920s old mining town dump in the mountains have dug 2 feet under but everything’s broken but might try to go back soon to see if I have luck.

Anyways I’m just wondering if anyone thinks digging these dumps with extremely hard dirt will yield any good results. I also wish to hear advice from any bottlediggers from the SW but anyone’s advice is welcome

View attachment 249119
Some more pics, does anyone know what these square bottles are called I love them though this is my only one which was found in NE NM the bottoms say aceite Mexico

View attachment 249120
A Stewart’s bluing bottle found at the same dump has hard soil and everything’s spread out so not for sure where to dig, surface finds.
In Texas we need cool weather & lots rain It was 103 today
 

hemihampton

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View attachment 249132
Here are some cans I found the past few months find one every once in a while not that old but they are fun to findView attachment 249133
View attachment 249134View attachment 249135

View attachment 249136
Also adding some bottles I dug today cause why not View attachment 249137View attachment 249140View attachment 249139
Only beer I have though is Budweiser mostly sodas I find


Those cans are all pretty common, but you never when you'll come across a rare one. keep looking. THANKS, LEON.
 

willong

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I know of one pre 1920s old mining town dump in the mountains have dug 2 feet under but everything’s broken but might try to go back soon to see if I have luck.
Welcome aboard!

If "everything's broken" in two feet of digging through a dump, then the biggest question is how the pieces of the broken items are situated. Are they in close association with each other? In other words, if you dropped a rock, brick, cast iron stove piece or etc. on top of a bottle in a hole you would, in most cases, still be able to discern that it was likely intact before the impact. Contrariwise, pieces of various colors, thicknesses and types all jumbled in a homogenized matrix is an indication that the dump had been dug previously by bottle hunters or disturbed by some other mechanical process such as construction work, or washed down-slope by weather events.

Keep in mind that bottle diggers have been active in North America for more than six decades now, so it has gotten tough. I'd go so far as to say that it is toughest Out West, where the craze actually started in 1959--the West is also where some of the most interesting and valuable bottles were found because of the huge influx of mid-19th century miners subsequent James Marshall's gold discovery in tailrace of Sutter's Mill, the event which kicked off the 1849 California Gold Rush. Camps, towns and even cities radiated throughout the region and into the Rockies with fresh strikes in a process that continues to this day with examples such as the controversial Thacker Pass Lithium Mine now initiating excavation in NV and causing concerns for the government and residents of nearby Winnemucca .

In arid regions of The West that were fortunate enough to escape destruction by wildfire, the old building stood, more-or-less intact and easily seen for more than a century. In that state, they were obvious hunting grounds for bottle diggers, some of whom were quite industrious in their efforts. A peek at photo on page 7 of The Antique Bottle Collector by Grace Kendrick and at several that are perhaps more relevant to your Colorado experience and begin at page 82 of Ghost Town Bottle Price Guide by Wes and Ruby Bressie should provide some insight into how thoroughly the more obvious dump sites have been dug by now in 2023.

Lots of broken bottle shards on the surface of extremely hard-packed ground could mean that no deep dump ever existed on the site. Also likely, especially if you have found vast fields of rusted "tin" (actually steel) can pieces and shreds scattered across the same surface area, that any goodies left behind by early bottle collectors have long since been gleaned by latecomers like yourself, or shot to pieces by plinkers. How deeply purple-colored by UV radiation some of the shards you've collected are suggests to me that the glass lay on the surface a very long time. Even at high altitude, where UV component of sunlight is more intense, I question whether the glass would have acquired such deep hues if the pieces are the discarded remnants unearthed by diggers active five or six decades previous to your visit. That is, I think your finds, at least the more-deeply hued ones, were from items simply tossed onto the surface when originally discarded.

All that I mention is not intended to discourage you. Rather, I'm trying to convey some information that might help you evaluate the site, and others you might discover in the future, to help assess whether a dumpsite warranting a lot of digging effort exists, or ever existed, on the site. My own experience suggests that the residents of small mining towns and camps did not expend much effort in disposing of their trash. If a deep dump ever existed on a site, such as the classic example of Virginia City, NV, it was because the town had a large population over an extended period. As such, odor control and other sanitary needs dictated at least some degree of centralized garbage management. None of that prevented individuals dropping bottles and other of today's "relics" down a privy hole. If you are able to locate and excavate a few privy pits in the "mining towns" in question; and, you then find nothing but broken shards in such context*, it would make a pretty convincing case to me that the site was too well known and has been too thoroughly excavated to warrant further digging. However, if the town is large enough to have been documented on Sanford Insurance maps, and if enough indication of property lot boundaries remain, but all the buildings have long since vanished, you might be in luck! While plenty of specialists have long sought out and dug privy pits in urban areas, I don't think the method was very common in remote or rural areas where diggers of the 1960s and 70s had surface dumps to more-easily exploit!

I wish you some good luck to accompany your efforts!

* Jumbled-up and disassociated shards in a privy pit are a pretty clear indication that one is digging through the back-fill of previous diggers--some items originally dropped into an outhouse pit managed to survive, and even the pieces of an item that broke will be found in close association to each other.
 

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