Burkburnett, Texas - A small town made famous by Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy was at one time referred to by the name that inspired the movie, Boom Town.
The largest to date oil boom in the history of the nation gave it its name. In the late 1800s and early 1900s there were more oil rigs in the small town than have ever been running in the entire state since.
In the 1970s another boom hit the small town, though not as grand as the one at the turn of the century. But once again, it gave the town another opportunity to call itself by the famous name. The third boom happened recently, though this time it wasnt oil that flowed from the ground.
It was silver and gold - silver and gold coins, to be exact. As a child growing up in Burkburnett, I had on many occasions looked up and found the small tent towns that surrounded the town in its glory days, looking for coins. A few coins found their way into my collection, but nothing really noteworthy until now.
This summer, the town decided to tear up the sidewalks that have run through the older part of the town since the 50s. Before that, town folk walked on the same dirt and mud street that they did in the 1800s.
You can only imagine my surprise when I went to town the other day to do some business at one of the banks there and saw that they were tearing up the sidewalks. Upon seeing that, I forgot my business and immediately went to the city hall to obtain permission to search the newly uncovered dirt when the men shut down for the day. That obtained, it was a quick trip home to get my detector. At 5:15 p.m. on June 11, 2004, I climbed out of my truck as the last of the city crew left the sight. The sidewalk was only four feet wide, but at that time they had uncovered three city blocks of it. I was in heaven. Thoughts of filling up my truck with coins raced through my head almost as fast as I raced across the street to the sidewalk.
I had always heard and believed that torn up sidewalks were a great place to run a detector, but I had never had the opportunity to prove that myself. Now I did, and I wasted no time getting started. I turned on the detector as I stepped off the end of the remaining sidewalk. Two steps in I got my first signal. Oh, this was going to be a fantastic day, I had no doubt. The Spectrum said it was a quarter, less than two inches deep. The brass tip screwdriver stayed in my pocked as I moved the loose dirt with the toe of my shoe.
When my foot was out of the way, there on the ground was the shiny silver coin. I excitedly reached and picked up a 1926 S Mercury dime in fine condition. It wasnt another four feet before I had already retrieved three Mercs and several silver Roosevelts.
Then the detector showed quarter. I was having a lot of fun digging up the dimes, but I was excited at the prospect of finding something larger.
When the Liberty Seated quarter came out of the three inches of ground, I was beside myself. It was an 1850 0.
Unfortunately, it wasnt in that great of condition, but I treasured it just the same. As I stood to examine the quarter more closely, my detector inadvertently signaled again. Less than a foot from the quarters resting place, I dug up two Indian Head pennies from the same hole. They were still together like they were when they had been dropped. Two 1866 and one 1869, ranging between good and fine condition. Incredible!
For the next three hours, I hunted that old sidewalk, adding numerous coins to my collection. In all, I retrieved twelve Mercury dimes, nine silver Roosevelts, and two buffaloes. A total of six Indian heads and a good handful of Lincolns also went into my collection, as well as four quarters and three silver halves. I searched the sight until it was starting to get dark.
I didnt even make it all the way to the end of the sidewalk, before I decided I needed to head back. It was a Friday evening so the next day I would have plenty of time to come back and search more thoroughly.
So, detector finally in the off position and slung over my shoulder like an old shotgun, I headed back toward my pick up. As I got close to where I had crossed the street, I made a turn and stepped back onto the concrete that still lined the sides of the sidewalk.
However, I almost lost my balance when I tried to stop halfway through the step. A little hint: when you get to be my (undisclosed) age, youre not as agile as you once were. There, sticking out from under the edge of the concrete, hanging over the loose dirt was the edge of a coin. It had to have been sitting right on top of the ground when they laid the sidewalk.
I need to stop, momentarily and share with you the strangeness that I have come to welcome as my luck. I can try my best until time stops and still not be as successful at anything until I quit trying.
The largest bass I ever caught, now stuffed on my wall was just shy of nine pounds. After a day of fishing, I was reeling in my line rapidly, intent on leaving. I hooked the monster in the side of the tail.
My luck just seems to overshadow my skill in everything I do. So it was not that great a surprise when I stepped, or stumbled back onto the loose dirt and gently pulled the coin out of the dirt, only to realize that I had just found the first gold coin of my life. It was an Indian Head Type Quarter Eagle.
I nearly dropped my Spectrum. The date is rather worn and barely readable, making it really not worth all that much, but I believe it says 1926. The fact that it is probably jewelry grade at best makes no difference to me.
I love it! It has a special place in my collection along with the Shield Nickel.