Pics from the past few months of privy digs

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Well-Known Member
Nov 25, 2002
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Baltimore Maryland
Hi Everyone here's some pics from privy digs around Baltimore over the past
few months. I think from late December until the first week of March. I was also out
digging quite a few times other then are pictured including a couple trips to Philadelphia
and other Baltimore digs of which I didn't take any pictures. Also there were a
couple very good digs that I'm writing stories for my website. Those should be
online in a week or two.
I hope you enjoy them


The first two are from a brickliner that was sinking into a parking lot in
north Baltimore We set up some cones and put on hard hats and posed as
construction workers. The parking lot is going to be developed early next year
so we decided to get a head start on a few pits. This one we dug down about 15
feet and it was full of 1915 era crown top beers. And it was still eating the
probe so we knew it was a very deep one that probably will only have 1890s on
the bottom so we filled it in and called it a day.






The next 6 pics are from a double barrel lined privy that was in a small
paved area alongside and alley. There were two holes sinking in this one ended
up being 1870s on the bottom and we did find a few blob sodas and a nice L.
Pabst stoneware Baltimore beer. You can see we started by breaking up the thin
tar and gravel coating covering this pit. The other privy that was sinking in
was only a half barrel deep but was pontiled age however everything was broken.



These 3 pics are of a large divided oval shaped brickliner. This pit would
have been shared for two houses that were recently torn down. The houses show on
an 1830s map. Sadly this privy had been completely dipped out and filled with
ash and sand in both haves. Luckily it was only about 10 feet deep. In the last
pic you can see the later flusher toilet pipe that had been run into this pit
around 1900. this pipe then turns and runs out to the street the other half of
the pit had an almost identical pipe in it a bit deeper down.



These 3 pics are from a yard we had probed several times over the past 6
months and failed to locate the privy. mostly because the soil had been so hard
and dry you could hardly get the probe in the ground in places. However after a
bit of rain the ground had softened up enough we decided to give it another try.
after about 3 minutes in the yard and 5 sticks of the probe in the ground along
the back property line and the pit finally was found. It turned out to be a
small square woodliner that went about 6 feet deep and had a nice layer of
1860-1880s trash and a few pontiled bases in the very bottom left over from
earlier dipping. We didn't find anything great the best bottle was a cobalt blue
square ink and there were a few local druggists bottles.





The next 5 pictures are of a small round brickliner we dug on a parking lot
that is being developed. we spent most of the morning punching test holes
through the asphalt with out success then we finally located a pit right next to
a large dumpster. and as luck would have it 80 percent of the pit was under the
dumpster. It was slow starting off because of the lack of room to dig after we
got the pit down about 4 feet. John got in the hole and was able to dig. Of
course this pit has more bricks in it then dirt. It ended up being about 8 feet
deep and was dipped to the bottom with no trash layer at all.

This pic is of a double barrel lined pit in the back yard of a recently boarded
up house. Me and Phil had drove around for most of the morning looking for
something to dig with no luck then we saw this house. We walked into the back
yard and saw a large tree in the back right hand corner of the yard which had a
test hole from another digger next to it. The first thing we thought was the
privy is probably under the tree. Not wanting to deal with a tree today I
started probing the property lines looking for another pit. and about midway in
the yard I hit a very soft ashy spot. This pit was full of light wood ash and
only about 8 feet deep with a nice 2 foot thick 1850s-1860s layer on the bottom.
We got a nice pontiled med from Wilmington Delaware a yellowware waste bowl and
several pontiled puffs and early smooth based meds. This was a very easy pit to
dig we we finished up in about 3 hours.


These 2 pics are from the inside of a 1940s parking garage they are
demolishing. We popped open a large sink near the wall and quickly found a round
brickliner. we dug it down about 6 feet but found that too much of the footer of
the garage was protruding into the pit so we had to give up on this one until
they get the footers dug out.


The last two pics are from the end of February when most of the east cost was
in the middle of a major deep freeze. Baltimore was no exception but we hadn't
been out in a couple weeks and the weather man had predicted highs in the 30s
today so plans were made and a time was set. We all met downtown at the normal
hour and loaded our tools and ourselves into Doug's truck and started our
typical tour of the city. We ended up in south Baltimore on a lot that some
houses had been knocked down years before but this gave us access to the back
yard of a recently boarded house facing a small alley street. Probing was imposable
due to the foot thick layer of frost. So the most likely spot in the yard for
the pit was chosen and we chipped a test hole through the frost. a quick probing
of our test hole said there is a woodliner here. Well not one to say no to a
woodliner we opened her up we found the wall an started following it around and
it just kept going it turned out that this was a very large wood square that was
shared between 4 houses. This was going to turn into a major tunnel project but luckily
the foot of frost held everything above us in place nicely including a shed and
several fences. This pit went about 6 foot deep and had some pontiled puffs in
the corners and the shards to a very rare Pontiled Warren's Congress Ink Master
ink from Baltimore. However most of the trash layer was 1860s-1890s we got
several buckets of bottles including a nice 1860s Baltimore glassworks - Sheaf
of grain half pint flask A scarce C. Hohnberger Baltimore squat soda from the
1860s and a George Otto Washington Dc Squat also from the 1860s. Three
nice bottles for three diggers. John was on this dig with us and he pulled out
the Flask and was very excited because it was the first historical flask he ever
dug. So we let him have that one in the pick later. I ended up with the
Hohnberger squat and Doug got the Otto squat.

Digger George

Well-Known Member
Oct 5, 2006
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SWEET DIGS! My favorite was the last one. It's great how the frozen ground actually helped you dig the privy out.[:D] I'll be lookin out for your website updates!


Well-Known Member
Mar 8, 2007
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Lehigh Valley USA
That's what I like to see! down and dirty privy diggin! Im getting excited all over again haha! [:D] I did one in Feb 14 degrees check my post out. Rick


Active Member
Feb 6, 2007
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Jupiter, Florida
hey nice diggs man, im really jealous

i live in jupiter, florida, and found around 12 bottles in the river next to my house, but none as rare and old as yours. Your lucky that you can find those privies so easly, ive been searchin and searchin and havent found any, the oldest town by me that has sanborne maps is west palm beach, and all the old houses were knocked down and the priviees were built over by hotels and such, but i did find one spot that may have old privies i can dig since its currently an empty lot. i cant wait to check it out. do you have any tips that you would like to share about findining privies?


Well-Known Member
Mar 17, 2007
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I hate to show off my ignorance, but what is a pontiled puff ? I have never heard that expression before. Looking forward to an explanation. Thanks, L C

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