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Treasure Hunting - The Unusual Ways

We never thought about it as treasure hunting, but as kids we searched the bushes and alleys for empty bottles that were returnable for a deposit. Looking back on it, I realize that this is the essence of treasure hunting. We were never sure what we would find, but always hopeful that peaking into the next bush would reveal our "treasure." We were excited by our finds, of course, and eager to cash them in so we could buy candy at the nearest store.

Interestingly, this is actually a fairly profitable treasure hunting activity for some adults now. Since the various deposit laws have gone into effect in many states, almost all cans and bottles are worth ten cents each. When I lived in Traverse City, Michigan, there was an old man who rode his bicycle around and collected empty bottles and cans from bushes, garbage cans, and anywhere he found them. I caught him on a park bench one day and asked him how much he made doing this. "It pays all of my rent," he told me. Rent wasn't cheap in Traverse City.

Other "returnable hunters" have told me that they can make 0 in a couple hours at outdoor rock concerts. Collecting a thousand sticky cans and bottles doesn't sound like a great job, but it works for them. Some other forms of treasure hunting follow.

Treasure Hunting - The Unusual Ways

Searching for gray water dumps. If you see a depression behind an old building, with bushes growing around the edges, it may have been a "gray water" dump. Before sewer systems were common, this is where the drains from sinks and showers emptied. Small rings, coins, gems and other old treasures are regularly dug out of these by treasure hunters. Just watch out for the razors.

Looking inside walls. One couple found that there can be treasure in the walls of old houses. They bought a home that had belonged to a movie theater owner in the twenties. When they decided to remodel, they opened up a wall and discovered that the walls had been insulated with classic and rare movie posters. It was a fire hazard, but one that turned out to be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to collectors. makes you want to poke around in the walls of an old building or two, doesn't it?

Harvesting gold from moss. A man found piles of dry moss in an old barn on a property he had bought. He learned that the moss was collected and sold to garden-supply stores. He burned it to dispose of it, and found with globs of gold in the ashes. The moss was from a gold-bearing stream, where he now regularly harvests more. Gold flecks get trapped in the moss.

Collecting electrical insulators. Old glass electrical insulators can still be found on telegraph poles laying in the weeds along many train tracks. I've found and sold a few. The thousands still out there are getting shot at and destroyed by kids and hunters, so don't feel bad about taking them.

Searching lake bottoms. Drought lowers the water in ponds, and sometimes reservoirs are emptied. When either of these happens, things appear that have been out of sight for years - sometimes valuable things. Treasure hunting in these cases may just mean walking around at the right time.

Straining through the dust. Some car-wash owners have been finding treasure in their garbage. They search the big vacuum tanks when they empty them (what did you vacuum up under that car seat?). Both money and jewelry are common finds. Treasure hunting takes many forms.

About the Author: Steve Gillman has studied unusual ways to make money for thirty years. To learn more, including more treasure hunting secrets, visit his website, Unusual Ways To Make Money:

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