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So - I've always been curious - with all the privy dippin' that was going on in the old days, what'd they do with the night soil? Wherever they put it must be absolutely loaded with bottles.

I've been told it was used for fill and whatnot. If that's so, shouldn't urban reclamation projects, etc., bring it back to light every so often?

Has anyone ever dug, or known someone who's dug, what was probably old dumped night soil?

P.S. Only on a forum like this could one see such a topic discussed seriously!


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Dippers usually salvaged everything they could sell out of the muck before they dumped it. Bottles, metal and even rags were all items that they could get a few cents for. Most dippers' dumps are likely to contain very few if any bottles. ~Jim


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Yup, they often salvage what was in the poo... I've even heard of them using the dippings for fertilizer. They were pretty much scavengers. I have heard of member on here finding dipper dumps and there being very little in them. I've also hit pockets in a few city dumps of night soul laden with bottles, so you never know... Gotta research your area...


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What bothers me most is that these people, who clean out the privy holes, pick through the trash-n-poo jumbalaya, and sort it out without reservation, and even sell what they found in there... that they used the shopping cart at the supermarket right before I did.. grabbed the door handle right before me.. or handled the gas pump.. well, since in NJ full serve is mandatory, I ain't too worried about gas pumps..


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I have found many a "Night Mans" dumps in wooded areas. Most of the time it is just night soil "crapola" the dippers would take all the "good stuff" out to sell,our bottles included [:D]
I also found a few large piles of rocks and stones in different wooded lots I go to,The stones were piled up almost like a little pyramid.One day I started to dismantle the piles one by one,when i got to near center I started to see night soil, then a shard or two of old glass,Dr Jaynes,kilmers,ect I think the stones are where they dumped the liquefied night soil and it ran down through the rocks.I found these in a few different locations so I know it wasn't a fluke finding,they used these rock piles for crap! I am thinking the reason for it was so when the night men returned each time, they didn't have to deal with,look at or smell,(to much) the nights load,it would run down into the rocks.Anyone else ever find these?

slag pile digger

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INTERESTING...VERY...VERY...INTERESTING.... Rick I think I have found a few of these....That is how I got my forum name......digging through rock piles, thinking they were slag rock from stone quarries...when I first started taking the collecting seriously.... I must inspect them all now...



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I live near the city of Baltimore, Baltimore was ( and still is) a port of call. In this neck of the woods we call them "Honeydippers" they would load all the stuff up in horse drawn carts and transfer it to barges at the harbor. It was then taken down rivers into tributaries and dumped along the shores. In the late 19th century these areas were basically
wilderness. Most of the local Baltimore diggers are familar with the Bear Creek dump. Guys were useing rakes and pulling Blob beers up several at a time. Lots of great bottles came out of that dump.

These dumps are found periodically. Most of the older diggers will tell stories of pulling dozens and even hundreds of bottles in just a few hours. On occassion you can get some bottles from clam diggers and oyster dredgers. There probably lots of these dumps still unfound. I know of a couple that have been pretty much dug.

It is amazing the number of privy's we dig that have been cleaned out many many times, ahhhhh but the times we find that one that has somehow slipped through the grasp of those Honeydippers.....thats what we dig for. We can dig as many as 10 or 12 before we find one thats really worth digging. Usauall a Baltimore privy has one decent bottle. Decent bottle? Some maybe $50-60 dollars sometimes a few hundred only on rare ocassions do we find bottles worth a thousand or more. So if you dig with three guys you avg. one good bottle every third hole. so that means you move about 6 tons of dirt, hours of digging for one decent bottle......LOL but get that one true gem and its worth every bit of effort...

Bottle diggers sure are a rare breed!


Well-Known Member
You think that's gross, remember what they did with salvaged bottles... Washed em out in a creek and sold them to people who reused them...!!! Does your beer taste tangy Phillip? Mine is quite tangy...

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terry teague