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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War, My first thoughts were that the wood burning engines had been replaced
by coal burners by 1861.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.
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
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.
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