The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays and I'm tickled, as I know you will be, to know that it can come every day of the year for your coin shooting pleasure.
The amphitheaters across the country are filled to over flowing, spilling people around their rims like so many glittering coins. Sitting or reclining on blankets, they busily keep a watchful eye on their children at play or the people going by while they restlessly wait for the music to start.
Everywhere across the country, the beaches, edging ponds, lakes, reservoirs, and waterways are crowded beyond belief. The amount of rings, coins, watches, necklaces and other assorted trinkets lost in the water and on the beaches is staggering.
The sites for this great summertime holiday have been held in various spots over the years from the old bandstand that used to squat in the center of the town square, to the soft, flowing stream at the south edge of town.
Towns like Frisco or Reno City, ghost towns of Oklahoma, that disappeared at the turn-of-the-century, can still tell you where to look for the old sites through their old newspapers.
Think of all the newspaper items touting long ago celebration sites in towns that ceased to exist long before there was such a thing as a metal detector.
Think of all the spots out there where the 4th has been celebrated that are untouched by a good metal detectorist.
There is a place on almost every bank of every river where some local town's people, or at least their kids, gathered to picnic, swim and to celebrate the 4th, and for every spot on a bank of a river there is a corresponding spot on a pond, a lake, a reservoir or a man-made swimming pool where the 4th is celebrated by enthusiastic crowds.
Each passing year, more and more great sites pass away forever, and with each new year there are new sites created, making for a continuous supply of hunting sites.
So remember, there are lakes like old Magnolia Lake in the Shawnee area that today is dry and lays forgotten in a lonesome pasture at the edge of town, or the Sometime Lake, so named because it was a slough and only existed during wet seasons, which was used many times for swimming and picnicking in the area of the town of Choctaw.
There was a spot in the early part of the century 10 to 12 miles southwest of Oklahoma City called Mistletoe Springs that never made it as a town, but was a little community tucked away near the river, where the high rollers, movers and shakers of the surrounding cities played with their friends and indulged in food, gambling and drinking.
Regardless of what town or city is being spoken of, the location of the 4th of July celebration changes from one place to another over the years as the circumstances dictate. The place where the 4th is celebrated this year may not be the same place it was celebrated last year or the year before that, but, at the same time, where you celebrate the 4th this year may be the same place it has been celebrated for over 100 years.
Even though it comes once a year, it has been celebrated for over 200 years in every hamlet, village and town throughout this land.
There is only one 4th of July in any given year, but there is more than one year. How does that make it huntable any day or every day of the year? The answer is a simple one.
Your state historical society has a newspaper department - it houses the vintage newspaper - and in that department they have collected as many of the old newspapers of your state they could get their hands on, and they've microfilmed them and catalogued them by counties and have alphabetized the counties, as well as the newspapers within the counties.
Check with the department to see what papers are available in the area you wish to hunt. There will be some newspapers over 100-years-old listing the activities and locations of the Independence Day celebration in their home town at the time.
Your state, like all the rest of the states, has a book covering every newspaper ever printed there and it will have a title something like Oklahoma Imprints, and it will cover the oldest to the newest, listed alphabetically within the town, and the towns are listed alphabetically by counties. The papers within the counties will show their dates of existence. Most libraries I've been in have a copy on their reference shelf. Think of the ease in which you can sit and read this book and look up any given town in any given county and, for any given year, make notes for use at the newspaper department later. Cross reference this book with your local ghost town book for an unlimited supply of sites untouched by human hands.
As you have only one date to contend with, the amount of time necessary to locate many old sites will be greatly reduced.
Bear in mind that on days when it's too cold or wet to hunt, you can still seek new sites at the newspaper department and, by doing so, you will increase the number of untouched sites you will have to search when the weather is agreeable. This way you don't miss a day of hunting.
Many of the towns you select to hunt will have disappeared before clad coins were minted.
Whether you live in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, or you come from Burlington, Iowa, it doesn't matter, for with this information you now own you will be able to look up the papers in any area you wish to hunt - my state, your state, or whatever state.
As an after thought, you might be able to stay at home and get the film from your state historical society, if you happen to be one of the lucky souls that live in one of the more advanced states where it is possible, through inter-library loan, to view the microfilm at your neighborhood library instead of having to travel to the building where the films are stored. Check with your state historical society and see if they had the farsightedness to have copies of their microfilm of their old newspapers available for viewing by the citizens through library loan.
Think of me when you're digging up those old silver coins in some untouched 4th of July site at some forgotten ghost town, and always get permission before hunting!
"Frisco News," July of 1894.
"History of Canadian County, Oklahoma," by Canadian Historical Society El Reno, OK 1990.
Newspaper department, Oklahoma Historical Society Oklahoma City, Okla.