Metal Detecting Research & Exploration - A Complete Guide, page 43

Footwork & Observation

EXPLORING DIRT ROADS, TRAILS and ABANDONED ROADWAYS

Always pay attention to dirt roads, trails, side pathways and dead ends (not always so). It is understood that if there is a road, it leads somewhere, or used to lead somewhere. It was not built for nothing.

Medieval Road

Abandoned roads in the forested areas are what you need to focus on. Not to be bothered by a large amount of junk targets that are usually associated with searching the old homestead sites, some metal detectorists search only abandoned roads and recover a remarkable variety of coins.

On Old Abandoned Road in the Woods of Central New York

Metal Detecting Abandoned Road

However, in America, the road infrastructure was not developed until the mid-1800s, and the roads were not the major means for freight transportation even then. Today, when you send anything across country, you refer to it as "shipping." This stems from the time when freight sent across-country went only by ship or canal boat. The canals took even some of the tourist business.

For example, even as late as 1860 many roads in New England were only clearings through forest, with few level stretches and often with stumps left in the middle of the road. In that year, the governor of Connecticut wrote, "...This kind of road will throw a child out of its mother's arms. We let our road-makers shake us enough to the mile to furnish assault and battery cases for a thousand police cases." That tells you one good thing: coins certainly dropped out of the travelers' pockets during the rides on bumpy roads.

As the early roads were no more than rivers of mud, road-makers experimented and used different materials, from crushed coal to corncobs, to overcome that problem. There are still crushed-oyster-shell roads along the seacoast, left over from the time before the development of plank roads.

First plank highway was built in Canada in 1836. In 1875, there were close to three thousand miles of plank roads in New York alone, and by 1880 the idea had spread to every other state.

Abandoned Road Paved with Blue Stone Slabs, Ashokan Reservoir, New York State

Blue Stone Road in Ashokan Reservoir, New York

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