Ox Knob found Metal Detecting Atlanta Area Parks

Taylor, Mike and I spent around three hours today metal detecting two old parks in Atlanta. Both parks were within a mile from Grant park. Wow, the first park was literally covered in trash targets! I started the hunt using my 12.5″ coil. That was a major mistake! I quickly switched to the standard 9.5″ coil, but even that coil had trouble keeping all the signals apart.

I’m sure there are some great coins hidden beneath all the trash, but neither of us found one. I did find some interesting copper relics. One of the copper relics hinges on one end and I think I’ll try and bend it back into what I believe is the original shape.

We had a metal detector showdown, my brother and I, about who would find the best targets. I was using a Garrett GTI 2500 and Mike was equipped with a Minelab Equinox 800. My total in clad coins was 70 cents and Mike found 53 cents, so it was pretty close. I think the imaging saved me some time not digging aluminum cans, but I still dug a few, just to check the detector. I’ve also noticed deep coins fool the GTI imaging system, so I didn’t want to pass up a nice deep silver coin. Unfortunately, or fortunately, whichever way you think of it, all the larger than a coin targets were exactly as predicted by the GTI 2500, junk. Here’s a video of the metal detector showdown:

Here are some still shots of our finds for the day:

My finds using the GTI 2500 — the unusual copper “bracelet” is in the upper right hand corner
Mike’s finds for the day using a Minelab Equinox 800

In my eyes there was no clear winner in the metal detector showdown. I found 70 cents in clad and a few copper and brass relics in the roughly three hours of detecting and Mike found 53 cents and a bunch of trash. Neither of us found any old coins, not even a wheatie and that was our goal, at least it was my goal. If we were after clad coins, the local school yards in Forsyth or Dawson county would have probably been more productive. In the end, both machines did a good job.

I have a idea to really pit the two machines against each other. We return to either park and each mark out a 10′ x 10′ detecting area for each machine. I would hunt my 10′ x 10′ area with my GTI 2500 and Mike would hunt his 10′ x 10′ area with his Equinox 800. We would then switch and I would detect Mike’s 10′ x 10′ area and vice versa. The challenge would then be complete and we would compare our finds.


One of our youtube viewers identified two of my relics. I found a ox knob which was screwed on the end of a Oxen horns to prevent the ox from attempting to sharpen his horns and it also helped protect people and other animals from the sharp horns and I also found a Ford Model T valve stem cover nut! Here are some close-ups of my finds using my Garrett GTI 2500:

I thought everything I found was trash, but the ox knob, Model T nut and copper bracelet are pretty sweet finds!
Ox knob found metal detecting in Atlanta Park.
The ox knob would have been used on oxen pulled wagon’s such as this one. These bovine are not wearing ox knobs, but they look like they need them!

Does moisture affect the depth of VLF metal detectors during metal detecting?

The topic of moisture and how it affects depth is a hot topic with metal detectorists! Everyone has a theory but I’ve never seen a detailed study proving or disproving any of the theories. Many detectorists think moist soil increases depth and some think soil void of moisture increases depth, so who do we believe?

It’s going to sound crazy, but I think they are both correct! The answer lies in the soil composition.

Here in the south we have a lot of mineralization in our soil, so moisture might actually reduce metal detection depth. A metal detecting electrical engineer has this to say about detection depth in southern red soils, “This type of iron oxide, because of its consistency, achieves a solidity or connection between iron particles making it much harder to reject when wet.” Essentially what he’s saying is the iron oxides impede the signal by masking out the good targets by creating one big iron target when the soil is wet!

Highly mineralized soils, in particular soils with large concentrations of hematite, will loose detection depth due to the “clouding” effect of hematite or iron oxide. The iron oxide not only negatively impacts depth, but it also wrecks havoc on discrimination as well! Another negative of highly mineralized soil is what detectorists call phantom signals. The phantom signals are again caused by hematite or magnetite (black sand) and are basically signals caused by the soil mineralization instead of real targets such as coins or jewelry. The only solution to false signals is to turn down sensitivity until they go away. Theoretically, auto ground balancing machines should account for these moderate soils. In severe soil, it might sometimes be necessary to manually ground balance to eliminate these false signals or again reduce sensitivity.

So what happens in non-mineralized soils? The general consensus is moisture enhances detection depth by increasing the conductivity of targets. Non-mineralized soils essentially act like air and your metal detector should achieve similar depths as seen in air testing with the added benefit of enhanced conductivity during high moisture content. So both depth is increased and reliability of discrimination is increased, a win-win scenario for metal detecting in moist non-mineralized soils!

This article only pertains to VLF or TR detectors and VLF type detectors probably suffer the most from highly mineralized soil. One alternative are pulse type metal detectors. Pulse detectors have a single coil for sending and receiving and work on different principles from VLF type machines. In fact, pulse detectors normally don’t have ground balancing, because they are not affected by ground mineralization and sometimes ground mineralization will add slightly to the duration of the reflected pulse thereby increasing depth of detection! However, even though pulse detectors offer greater depth in mineralized soil, they do not discriminate. In particular, pulse detectors have trouble discriminating out iron targets. One way pulse detectors can discriminate iron is by using very long time delays, however since silver and copper have similar characteristics to iron with very long time delays this method is far from fool proof.

There you have it, moisture in soil is either a blessing or a curse. In southern states such as Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia, you might want to wait to hunt in the drier months for the deepest signals. I’m sure there are other places in the United States such as Idaho or western states where highly mineralized soil is a problem, but these five states have the rich red soil that is a known problem. Up north or areas with little or no soil mineralization might even see increased detection depths when the soil is moist.

Wonderful day metal detecting — Atlanta park, Smyrna park and 1820s grist mill

My dad, my brother, my daughter and I spent the day metal detecting and we had a great time! We spent time metal detecting four locations; an old park in Atlanta, a abandoned lot next to the Smyrna police department, a very small neighborhood park in Smyrna and ended the day at the 1820s grist mill park near my home. The park in Atlanta was built in the 1940s. We only hunted there for about an hour. No silver but some cool relics. My brother found an old copper buckle, maybe equestrian, and a very rustic pocket knife with his Equinox 800. I found what appears to be the wick holder for a oil burning lamp and my dad picked up a wheatie in Smyrna. Here’s a picture of the days finds:

The finds left of the buckle and chuck-e-cheese token were found using a White’s Eagle II SL and the rest were found using a Minelab Equinox 800. The rock my daughter found and just liked it and decided to keep it!

It goes to show you, you don’t need to find colonial treasures or rare silver coins to enjoy the day and spend it with family. We didn’t find anything special, but we created memories that are priceless. Whatever is your passion, gold mining, metal detecting, rock hounding, whatever, get off the couch and get out there and enjoy the day! You won’t regret it.

Metal detecting historic 1820’s grist mill part 1

Yesterday my brother and I went metal detecting around a 1820’s grist mill! The grist mill is now a public park and has a wonderful covered bridge from 1902 onsite. We didn’t find much, but we had a great time exploring the outdoors.

Metal detecting finds from 1820’s grist mill.

As you can see from the above finds, we didn’t find anything from the original mill. However, the slag was found on a modern park pathway and I believe probably predates the park and is from prior activity on the site (the current park is relatively new, built within the last 18 years).

We just barely touched the parks grounds, we never even made it past the covered bridge to the back half of the park. I’ll keep you updated on our progress and I hope to make it back to the park again soon.

Mike metal detecting near where the cross and slag were found. You can see the 1902 covered bridge in the background.

Metal detecting around historic rock mounds of North Georgia Part I

The original Cherokee county of North Georgia occupied around 1/4 of the current state of Georgia. I spent a few hours tromping around in the woods of North Georgia in the region of the original Cherokee County looking for any relics from the 19th century or prior.

There are numerous small rock piles or rock mounds in Georgia. The area where I was metal detecting have these rock mounds scattered through out them. Here’s a photo I took during my metal detecting hunt showing three mounds stacked neatly in a row:

Mysterious rock mounds of North Georgia

The origin of these mounds are unknown. I think the theory relating to farmers stacking stones as they cleared a field seems the most likely. However, these particular rock mounds are on the side a of hill overlooking hurricane creek, which is not a great or easy place for farming! Another theory is the rocks mounds pre-date early Georgia farmers and were made long ago by Indians, perhaps during the Middle Woodland Period ( 300 B.C.–A.D. 600).

In addition, to these rock mounds, the area I was metal detecting is very close to the temporary trail of tears indian containment sites of North Georgia. Over 20,000 Cherokee indians from the surrounding area were marched to Oklahoma by gun point. Only 75% survived the trip, the remaining died along the way. This is a sad fact from U.S. history and something no American should have condoned.

I don’t know if early Georgia farmers, Cherokee indians or indians that pre-date the Cherokee created this wonderful mounds on the hills surrounding hurricane creek, but with metal detector in hand I was determined to find something that pre-dated the 20th century.

I was using a White’s Eagle II SL for this metal detecting excursion. I had previously hunted the area in question using the same detector, but this time I turned off discrimination. I wanted to find absolutely anything that might be from antiquity and the most likely would be ferrous relics such as an axe head or early tool.

Wow, what a great time I had, tromping thru the woods looking for relics of the past. Every target got my heart pumping. I don’t think I found anything that pre-dates the 20th century. Here are my finds:

Metal detecting finds hunting North Georgia woods with indian rock mounds

I only found two targets the really got me excited, the T-shaped metal fragment and the pocket knife. Curiously, I found them within 5ft of each other on the side of a hill. Here’s the area where they were found:

Metal detecting is fun and I enjoyed every moment this afternoon. Did I found treasure, no, but the real treasure is in the hunt. Get out there and enjoy life to the fullest!

Mohave Desert placers

I’ve been promising some resources for gold prospecting outside of Georgia and here is a great map of the Mohave desert placers just north of Dolan Springs. Just take Pearce Ferry Road from Dolan Springs to drive up there. There are GPAA claims in the area and other gold club claims or you can file your own claim too!

Here’s a photo of the placers just south of Golden Rule Peak. The diamonds show the location of known gold placers



Dahlonega GA gold placers map

No discussion about gold mining in Dahlonega would be complete without the following 1849 map from William P. Blake (the state geologist in that year).

I love google maps and this map really help show where the gold placers around Dahlonega are located. Here’s the map imported in Google Earth, if you missed the post about how to do that, you can visit it here:

How to choose between a gold pan, gold dredge or high banker

If you’re a amateur gold miner like me, you only gold mine on weekends.  On top of that, sometimes the good mining locations are pretty far away and by the time you get to the property you might only have a couple of hours to gold mine!  I would say it’s pretty common to hear this statement:

“The more material you move, the more gold you find!”

From this statement, it would seem pretty obvious that you should always use the gold mining equipment that moves the most material, right?  Well, before we examine this statement, let’s take a look at the different mining equipment:

I actually have all the above mining equipment available to me to use when I go gold mining.   Let’s examine the advantages and disadvantages of each piece of equipment of mining equipment :

Gold Pans and classifier screens 

Advantages:  Light, cheap and very easy to take into the field.  If you have a very limited time or budget, this is your best bet.  Since it’s a great tool for cleanup or to prospect for gold, pretty much ever gold miner owns one.

Disadvantages:  A gold pan is the slowest method of gold mining and used together with picks and shovels can be back-breaking work.  On top of that, a gold miner using only a gold pan will only move a limited amount of gold bearing material.  There are approximately 400 standard gold pans to the yard, so I would say working a 1/4 yard of material a day with a gold pan would be working pretty hard!

Mini sluice box 

Advantages:  Light, cheap and very easy to take into the field (same benefits as a gold pan and classifier screens).  However, a sluice box does the work of washing the material for you.  Instead of constantly bending over in the river and swishing and swirling the pan, you let the river do the washing for you!  A sluice box works in conjunction with a creek or river and doesn’t work without a moving water source.

Disadvantages:  Since you need a pretty good stream of water to operate a sluice box, it limits you to working directly in a creek or stream.  You also still need to shovel the gold bearing material into the sluice box, so the amount of material moved per day is probably limited to about a 1/2 to 1 full yard a day.   Still back-breaking work, but a step up from only a gold pan!  If you have a very limited budget and want to move the most gold possible, a good sluice box will set you back about $100 dollars.

high banker or power sluice 

Advantages:  High bankers start around $400 dollars, so they’re not cheap.  However, gold mining equipment is notoriously expensive so high bankers are one of the lower cost options.  You still need a water source, like a sluice box, but since you pump the water a significant distance from the stream or river, a high banker would allow you to get closer to the gold gold or work material not directly in a creek.  The flexibility of directly working old timer tailings and low cost makes a high banker a great choice for beginner gold miners.

Disadvantages:  You still need to shovel the gold bearing material into the high banker hopper, so the amount of material moved per day is probably about the same as a regular sluice box or about 1/2 to 1 full yard a day.   On top of that, the hopper of the high banker is usually pretty high off the ground so the digging is more difficult than a sluice box sitting directly in the stream.

2″-3″ gold dredge 

Advantages:  You can’t beat a 2″ dredge for portability!   At a total weight of 65lbs, a 2″ back-pack dredge is one of the lightest pieces of mining equipment you can find!  They start at around $1500-1800 dollars, so I wouldn’t call a 2″ dredge inexpensive, but still within some budgets.  A 3″ dredge weighs around 85-177 lbs, so it adds significant weight and cost (a 3″ dredge costs between $2000-3000 dollars)

Disadvantages:  A 2″ dredge is rated at 2 yards per hour, but almost every rock is larger than 2″ so you have to manually throw a lot of rocks!!  I swear I’ve used a 2″ dredge and thought to myself, “man I could move more material panning”.  I think when you factor in manually throwing all the 2″+ rocks and nozzle clogs, clogged intake filter and other problems, processing a yard yer hour would be pretty good rate with a 2″ gold dredge.

4+” gold dredge 

Advantages:  Wow, a 4″ gold dredge moves a LOT of material!  I’ve never used a 5″ or 6″ dredge, but I can imagine they’re monster gold getting machines!   Anything over a 6″ and you’re talking a commercial gold mining operation.  As far as processing power, a 4″ gold dredge is rated at 5 yards per hour, but so many factors can effect that rate (loose or compact material, cobble size, operator, etc)  it’s probably closer to 2 or 3 yards per hour.

Disadvantages:  A 4″+ dredge is $3000+, so that’s a negative!  Another disadvantage is the weight.   The lowest weight 4″ dredge is probably around 160 lbs, so they’re not light.  I’ve gone 4″ gold dredging by myself, but I was a lot younger and wouldn’t attempt now at 45 years old.  If you afford the cost and handle the “beast”.  One final thought about a large gold dredge, it takes substantial time to transport and set-up a gold dredge.  After you drive to your site, unload your gold dredge, set it up in your chosen location, you can loose hours in a day!  So the final disadvantage to a large gold dredge is set-up time, you need at least an hour, maybe 2 hours to set it up at your location.


On the way to the gold mining fields of north GA, I was attempting to explain the benefits and disadvantages of the different types of mining equipment to my brother, Mike.  We only had a couple of hours to gold mine once we reached the property, so I thought we should just work old timer tailings with a gold pan and sample, sample sample.  The stream in this area has been well worked many, many times over the years and I never thought we found what we should be finding directly in the creek. Plus, Like I said above, with a 2″ dredge you have to throw a lot of cobble! In fact, this particular creek has very large rocks.  Well, Mike called me an “idiot” and said it would be stupid to think we’d find more gold with a gold pan and shovels versus a 2″ gold dredge (we had both pieces of mining equipment in the truck that day).  Well, I challenged Mike to prove it!   We both had 3 hours, Mike would use the 2″ gold dredge directly in the stream and I would only use gold pans, buckets and a shovel.  When the challenge was over, we’d both take our gold concentrates back to the clean-up shack and see who got more gold!  Here’s a video of our challenge, who do you think won the challenge?