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How do you find old bottles in creeks and rivers?


Well-Known Member
Mar 8, 2007
Lehigh Valley USA

Using a pitchfork as a probe, increases your chances by 3. [;)]
I second that. We used to pull up milk bottles with a fork like they were going of of style. Well they were out of style you know what I mean[:D]


Active Member
Jul 7, 2012
How exactly do you probe a spot in the ground, do you just take a pitchfork and poke it into the ground hoping to hit bottles?

Thanks guys, this info helps!

Also, I won't go into the water without proper equipment, I appreciate the concern!


Well-Known Member
Sep 20, 2011
In a sense that's correct. you're using it as a probe, going in a continuous pattern trying not to miss any areas. You will be able to tell bottles by the sound and feel. Once you have founda few, you will have no trouble recognizing others on contact. If you are in water shallow enough to wade in, I would suggest a spading fork. Same concept, except the tines are strong enough to dig bottles out of silt or sand, and can be used to lever rocks and other debris out of the way. In the river I spoke of above we found many bottles in about 3 feet of water, and a spading fork was invaluable. We also carried a 3' handled fishing net to nudge bottles into with our feet. We also got very strange looks form people crossing the bridge[;)]. Most assumed we were fishing, even though we had no poles. The spading fork also acted as a walking aide and by always using it in front of you as you walk will detect and protect you from many other hidden objects. A spading fork has saved my shins from many a submerged metal drum, and is a great way of detecting changing depth. Until you are very sure of a rivers topography, and even after, as storms and floods can rapidly change bottom topography, walk upstream against the rivers current. This will allow you to avoid being swept into something you don't want to go in, and make backing up easy. Much of this info is dependent of whether you are in water or on shore. On shore look for pieces of broken pottery, glass and metal eroding out of the bank, which may indicate a dump along the bank. Bank erosion being caused by river flooding will always deposit in the direction of the current. This is to say if you are finding bottles in the river or creek, you think came out of a dump on a bank look for it along the bank upstream of where you find them, and vice versa if you find a dump along a bank look for bottles, which were washed out of it downstream of the dump. Hope this helps, good luck! and have fun.


Active Member
Feb 15, 2020
Cool, this is an old thread, but maybe you can share the story on how you found them?
All I do is creeks. I Walk The Creeks looking in water and banks. Here in Illinois where it's flat all the trash went in to the crevices or low spots which was mostly creeks. I look towards the banks for high concentrates of glass shards.start digging.a old dump will be some easy ground to dig like a privy. lot of times they caught the dumps on fire so I it'll have a lot of black ash in soil.. what they usually had the dumps east of town within a half a mile from center of town.sanborn maps can also help. Always look around animal holes in the banks and uprooted trees. I always try and dig into the bank and let gravity help you move some dirt.heres a pic of an uprooted tree I'm gonna dig up soon as it warms up.good luck

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