Club President Comments

More about our Club

Club Meetings

Club Awards

Annual Club Picnic

Finds of the Month

Club Archive

Can You Identify?

Member Finds Archive

Metal Detecting Tips

Digger's Corner

Treasure Hunters Code of Ethics

Preamble & Constitution



A Wood Burner Token

by: Dave Mullins

At the May 97 meeting of the MTHRA, Mark Gregory brought in a token that he had found with several other railroad items. The token was one used by the railroads to buy wood to power the old wood burning engines. Mark's tokens appear to be either brass or bronze and all of the letters are incuse (or punched into the token), the token itself is very crude and is probably hand made.


Mark was wondering if it could have been used during the Civil War, My first thoughts were that the wood burning engines had been replaced by coal burners by 1861. I was wrong. While looking through some of my books on railroads I found an 1870 picture of an L & N engine with a load of wood behind the engine and the train was stopped beside a big pile of wood.

The cord wood tokens turn up from time to time but are definitely not common. A few but not many carry some letters that would indicate what railroad used the tokens. This particular token has no such marking. The tokens were issued to the engineers to purchase wood along the track. A cord of wood would provide fuel for about 50 to 60 miles, so a train would sometimes have to refuel several times on a trip. The railroad would make an arrangement with the farmers or other businesses along the track to provide wood. When the engineer reached the refueling point he would stop, reload the hopper and give the supplier the tokens to represent the amount of wood purchased. The supplier would then swap the tokens back to the railroad for money.

The cord tokens are usually round, but some are rectangular or other shapes. All that I have seen are rather crude and could have been made in a railroad shop. I have seen (in books) tokens as follows: 1 CORD, GOOD FOR 1 CORD, 1/4 CORD, AND 1/2 CORD. The 1/2 cord denomination seems to be the most common. A very few have the word "WOOD" on the token. It is very desirable for the token to have the name of the railroad on the token, which is the only real way to know who used the token. A few northern and Canadian railroads had tokens that can definitely be connected to a specific railroad. The "18" on the token probably designates the engine number.

Ball & Buck

by: Larry Cates

My first encounter with a metal detector was about fifteen years ago. I was in the National Guard, and this guy named George Allen was always talking about what HE FOUND metal detecting. It sounded pretty interesting to me. So I ask him about buying a metal detector. He said HE HAD TWO OF THEM and he would sell me one of his for a $100.00. It was a Garrett Groundhog IT, sounded like a go getter, so I bought it.

I took it out the yard where I lived and was trying to get use to it. I got a real good signal, but when I got it out of the ground, it was a real nice pull tab. I didn't find nothing but junk, and was ready to get rid if this junk finder. George said he would take me with him where I could find something besides junk.

Two or three days later we were off on our big hunt. He took me down by the rock quarry in Murfreesboro, by the side of the road. I think it was Bubba Hoard's place. It was grown up a little but you could get a coil to the ground. I wasn't in there long when I got this real good signal. Up came an aluminum can out of the ground. After a few more cans and pull tabs, I got a real good signal. I thought, "another can or pull tab", but to my surprise it was a round ball with three bucks with it. It felt real good to say that I had found something Civil War. I didn't find anything else that day, but I was proud of that ball & buck.

We went to Larry Hicklin's shop that evening, and I showed him my find. He said that was good for a first find; after that I was hooked on the hobby. It seemed after that first find it was a little easier to find a keeper. About a year or so, I bought another detector. It was also a Garrett ADS II. It was a very good machine, but that is another story.

OLD LUCKY LARRY will end this story and maybe have another story in another newsletter. By the way I still have my old Garrett Groundhog. It is retired now. I want to thank all the officers in the club, past and present for the good work they have done and to keep up the good work. All you members keep your coils to the ground.

Breeze Hill

by: Tom Williams

When construction began on the new Kroger off 8th Ave. and Franklin in the fall of 1993, there were years of history uncovered. It would be hard to count how many artifacts were found all together, but it was a substantial amount.

As far as I know, the history of the place goes back to the late 18th Century when a Colonel from the Revolutionary War first settles there. After a small skirmish with a number of Indians who used the hill as a sacred burial ground, the Colonel and his crew started building the first home for his family. This would later be used as the slave quarters after the construction of the Mansion was completed around mid 18th century. The walls of the mansion were a few feet thick of solid brick, which stood up well against the heavy artillery during the Civil War. Up until the 1960's, you could still see a cannon ball lodged in one side of the home that never exploded.

The location saw a heavy concentration of Union troops who used the hill as an advantage for their assault on the Confederate lines that crossed what is now Woodmont and Thompson Lane. They camped around a stone mill at the base of the hill mostly for the water supply. From the later 1960's up until the present, the hill got a lot of abuse from dumping trash. From what I've heard, the place had been hunted for years and many valuable things had been found. When I started metal detecting for the first time, the hill had just been bulldozed and word got out quickly. The land owner was already driving relic hunters off from detecting and I later heard a number of reasons why this was, but any; soon after, my friend who got me started in metal detecting heard that the land developers were allowing people to relic hunt, and told me I should take the day off and head over there with him. So I rented a 5900 Whites detector from a large man who thinks he knows everything (go figure), and met my friend at the sight.

When we started walking up the hill, it looked like a classic World War I movie. There were small and large holes every where in the ground from digging. The dozers had turned trees into twisted piles of bark. The ground had been scorched in several areas from burning stuff. The amount of trash I think discouraged a lot of relic hunters and kept a large number of people away for a while. Still, there would be days where a large number of people were there, but not often. Not knowing where else to go for hunting and being fairly new to Nashville, I spent a lot of time at this place. My friend and I hunted for a few hours that day and despite the number of holes, came up with a few bullets each. I found all my bullets in one area behind a large tree at the bottom of the hill. It was the second time I had ever found Civil War bullets and it was exciting. They were all spent rounds and I got 6 or 7 on one side of the tree.

The second week of hunting on Breeze Hill, I found so much trash it was sickening. But I came out with a variety of dropped Union bullets and a few Confederate spent rounds, which kept me coming back. Being the inexperienced relic hunter I threw away a few good Civil War artifacts thinking it was a large part to a sink or garden hose (artillery fuse), or a top to an old jar (breast plate!). But luckily I ran into someone who was experienced enough to tell me to "hold on to everything you find until you have identified it!" Still, there must of been some guy who found this funny look'n jar lid while walking up the hill and thought, "What an idiot! Someone threw down this breast plate!" One week end, I met this guy who lived in Murfreesboro and drove down every weekend to hunt this place. I don't remember his name, but he wasn't big as Larry with a first name 'Harry'. He definitely knew what he was doing though, because he showed me a pouch full of bullets that day. The third and last time I ever saw this guy was a month later. We were the only ones on the hill that day and fall was turning into winter. The high of the day was 39 degrees and we were the only ones on the hill. At the end of the day we compared finds. Me: 3 penny buttons, 2 bullets, and Indian head penny, and an assortment of brass. Him: 10 to 15 pistol bullets, about 6 rifle musket bullets, an assortment of penny buttons (when he held them in his hand it looked like about 10 or 12), 2 large cents, one which was 1820, a Hotchkiss fuse, a barber dime, and an assortment of lead and brass. Sickening! He always told me to be patient and listen to your signals real well. I had a lot to learn. We both used Whites 6000si so I knew it wasn't just his machine. It had to also require some darn skill.

After a few more months had passed and more dirt was moved, I finally acquired some of that skill and enough knowledge to do some good. I still couldn't imagine why there weren't a large number of people out there during the weekends but it was Ok by me. Of course I had no idea at the time that a large portion of downtown Nashville was being dug up and everyone and their grandmother were at the dumps. But I was having fun anyway.

It was now spring of '94, and the hill was scraped again. After work, my friend and I went up to the hill with flash lights and found a lot of bullets in one area. It was so muddy and wet from raining all week, but after hunting a few hours in one spot near where the mansion once stood, I found 4 or 5 dropped .69 cal. bullets, about ten .58 cal. bullets and my first Civil War button: a Yankee General Staff cuff button. Not bad for one nights hunt. It was still mussy and every signal I dug was trash. Then, after an hour of frustration, I dug a small silver coin and started to wash it mud off in a small pool of water. It was in such great shape that I thought it had to be a mercury or Roosevelt, but it was smaller than a regular dime. I read the date and it said "1842". No way! This couldn't be right. After looking it up in the coin book that night, it was an 1842 half dime from the mint of New Orleans in very fine condition. It was worth $125. The following week I found an 1897 Confederate Reunion Badge and a US box plate with lead and hooks missing. About a month later, I found over 10 penny buttons and a colonial shoe buckle in one small area near where the slave quarters used to be. About a year would pass before they finally covered up the old dirt and started building the foundation for Kroger. By that time, I had over 200 bullets, about 20 penny buttons, 6 Civil War buttons, and so on. Compared to some other hunters, I got left overs. But it was incredible how much stuff came off that hill. I was spoiled after my first year of relic hunting and quickly learned that situations like these don't happen every week. Not only was Breeze Hill an old settlement, but a large Civil War site as well. Every hunters dream! Now I'm back to yard hunting, anticipating that one "chance in a life time" place to hunt.


[ Back To page Top | Home ]