railroad tracks

When I was a kid I was fascinated by trains and railroad tracks. Not realizing the obvious hazards at the time, I would grab hold and climb into one of the boxcars while it was going slowly through town. I was probably about 10 or 12 years old at the time. I would ride to the edge of town and jump out into a field of high grass before the train would speed up and walk about four miles back home. For a poor kid growing up in Marion, Indiana it was the next best thing to a ride at the fair and it was free. I would put pennies on the railroad track near my house and after the trains went by I would try to find them. Having a penny flattened to the size of a quarter or larger was a cool conversation piece at school. Of all the pennies I would put on the tracks I only found about half of them which relates to the subject of this post. How much has been lost along the 233,000 miles of railroad tracks in the United States?

Before I go any further let me say that if you choose to metal detect around railroad tracks or the areas near the tracks BE CAREFUL. With your headphones on you may not hear a train coming until it is right on you. Also, since 9-11 the laws have changed and you could be arrested for trespassing. Railroad police are their own entity and not governed by local law. I haven’t seen or heard of any issues along old abandoned tracks, though, and they are great for searching. Just make sure you get permission if on private land.

Over the years I have metal detected along railroad lines many times in several states including Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Oregon, but not in Idaho as of yet. Some of the obvious places to search would be around old train stations, maintenance shacks, etc. I personally like to metal detect an area 20 feet or more from old tracks because that is where laborers pitched their tents, parked their vehicles, ate their meals, etc. Perhaps even a card game or two in the evening with the money they earned for their labors, and you can bet alcohol played a role in there somewhere. There is a place here in Idaho where the railroad runs along the Payette River that several hundred railroad spikes were thrown overboard. Great place for someone who likes to makes knives, tomahawks, etc.

It is hard to detect right on the tracks. The obvious reason is unless you have a small coil your detector will go crazy when you get close to the rails. Also, in newer tracks blast furnace slag is used as rail bed fill which will be full of small bits of metal that will drive you and your metal detector crazy. Besides, I haven’t found much between the tracks or along the outside edges except for flattened coins. Maybe one or two I lost when I was a kid…….

Using Google Earth can be a great help in finding productive locations along railroad tracks to hunt. Even though a maintenance shack may have long disappeared, you can sometimes see faint outlines in the ground or dirt roads or paths leading to where a shack once stood.

Keep the entries coming for the drawing. Not as many entries as last month. For those looking for the gold coin to get five entries need to look in the section on "Cancer" in SheilasInfoPages. I will leave the coin in that subject until the end of the month. Find the coin and click on it to send an email and let me know what the article title is where you found it and you are entered. Good Luck. Comments are appreciated.