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Dirt & Grass ... Metal Detectors .. Blue Tarps. = The rise and fall of carnival site production.

October 08, 2020 09:53AM avatar
Glad to see you are still hitting the old fairgrounds sites, and especially concentrating on the carnival set-up areas. Like others here on the metal detecting forums who are a tad bit on the 'older side' we likely have better memories of when carnivals came around and where they set up. Those annual County Fairs were always a fun family getaway, or really a family stay-together, doing things as a family unit, and the rides and amusement areas always drew the crowds of people.

Aside from a County Fair there were also other annual gatherings, such as the Portland Rose Festival in Portland Oregon. They set all the carnival stuff up on grass and dirt overlooking the Willamette River, and when over, as soon as they started breaking down in the latter '60s and very early '70s, those who got into metal detecting early wouild be there and get busy. You had to stay out of their way, but those carnival operators lost little time 'breaking down and loading up.'

A bigger dealer friend and a son would spend all night down there detecting the sand, grass and dirt areas, especially after making sure they knew the better money exchange points, where the lines for rids went, the types of rides, and those game areas where folks would toss a dime or nickel to try and get it in a bottle or on a dish to win a prize. They would hunt all night long, and it was fifty or so year ago when that inner downtown area was much safer than the human element that dwells around there in more recent years. At first they often had the site almost alone, only meeting and knowing about 4 to 6 others who also arrived to work it when it was fresh. And it covered a lot of area, too.

Their night-long searches usually had them head home and to the detector shop with anywhere from $30 to about $62 in found coins as they related to me. I was working a night shift at the time and had to contend with hunting during the daylight hours, but there were still a lot of 'left-overs' to last for two or three days.

We noticed that some of those carnival workers had caught on to the fun and $$$-making use of metal detectors, and by about '73 to '75 we noted a lot of them would do some quick detecting around their 'both' area, then break-down and load up .... and once again put in a little more search time in their uncluttered area and wander around a bit more. The challenge was on! Then by the early-to-mid '80s more and more carnival set-ups that involved more coin-tossing started laying down tarps that covered their assigned 'booth space' where most coins would land when they bounced off or skidded off the glass bottle and dishes that were the targets.

Blue seemed to be the more popular tarp color, and it sure gathered a lot of coins that would never see the ground. A few would over-shoot when they ricocheted and make it to the grass or dirt, but the hobby detectorist did see a decline in fresh finds compared to what used to be left behind. The good news was the existing ground under those tarps still held some of the coin loses from earlier activity, meaning Wheat-Backs and Silver were still available, at least I limited quantity. Other good news was many of those who had owned a detector now relied on all of their tarp collection and gave up on detecting. They just headed for their next show site. A benefit to the detecting hobbyist.

Today, we can all keep looking for any modern-use or research some of the earlier set-up locations when carnivals or even early-day circus shows would travel around to. And you are right about looking at the date era. A coin minted 60 years ago would have been a 1960. Pennies would have been early Memorial Coppers, and Nickels would have been Jefferson, but all the Dimes, Quarters and Halves would have been 90% Silver.. When I first started metal detecting in early 1965, those 60 year old minted coins would have been from 1905 and included Indian Head Cents, 'V' Nickels, and still silver Dimes and Quarters, but those would have been Barber era coins.

To find coins minted then, today, we have to look for 115 year old coins and appreciate the fact that most of the commonly available public sites have been well hunted and thinned out a lot, plus there is a greater amount of tossed-aside debris to contend with. Much better detectors today, at east in some ways, but a lot more challenge and that calls for employing more patience combined with removing a lot of trash to be able to get to those remaining better targets from days of old.

Thus, as you related, many of those types of places are claimed to be "hunted out" but the reality is, the easier stuff is gone. We just need to change-up our tactics and approach to rid a site of the unwanted masking trash in order to make some good finds we might enjoy boasting about..

You're right, again, when you remind others that we need to accept finding more of the modern coins, and that there are ways to find and hunt different places if we've been having a 'dry spell.'


"Your EYES ... the only 100% accurate form of Discrimination!"

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Subject Author Views Posted

I only found pennies

Senior Deacon 819 October 06, 2020 09:16PM

Re: I only found pennies

Timbertodd 637 October 08, 2020 06:38PM

Dirt & Grass ... Metal Detectors .. Blue Tarps. = The rise and fall of carnival site production.

Monte 637 October 08, 2020 09:53AM

Re: Dirt & Grass ... Metal Detectors .. Blue Tarps. = The rise and fall of carnival site production. Attachments

Senior Deacon 644 October 08, 2020 01:04PM

Yes, many places are thinned-out. But sometimes it pays to 'know the right person.'

Monte 632 October 08, 2020 02:03PM

The Rocket - Election Time - grinning smiley

UtahRich 603 October 08, 2020 04:14PM

Re: The Rocket - Election Time - grinning smiley

Senior Deacon 639 October 08, 2020 04:43PM

Hunted Out ? Why are there still conductive targets here ? eye popping smiley

UtahRich 616 October 06, 2020 10:59PM

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