Treasure Hunting For Old Bottles

Looking for old bottles
Last fall, a friend told me about an old dump she'd found around her place. I thanked her and added it to the list of things I needed to do-thinking it would be a perfect place to explore on one of those bright sunny days that January sometimes gives us as a gift-and hey surely after the first of the year I'd have more time for the trip.

I made the mistake of telling Chitter and Chatter about the offer-and they hounded me unrelentingly about going until one cold fall day I caved to their pleas.

Finding old bottles in western nc

Arriving at dusky dark on the damp evening-we felt like we'd entered another world-or maybe like we'd slipped through a portal to the past. Soon after we stomped through the broom sage and brittle saw briers we realized we'd hit pay dirt. 

Old brown clorox bottle

The glass items were just strewn through the woods surrounding a small creek-it was like doing a trash pick up along a highway. Without a doubt the easiest dumpster diving we've ever done.

The old home place has been deserted for years-most of it's outbuildings are crumbling around the perimeter of a falling down house. As I studied the area-I realized what we were plundering wasn't a dump. There is no way the folks who lived there would have thrown their trash a stone's throw away from the back porch in the creek.

Noticing an old satellite for the first time since arriving-I figured it out. I'm betting someone bought the old place after the original owners were gone-and took the indecent liberty of cleaning those out buildings of their saved treasures by dumping it all near the creek. Maybe they thought they'd eventually get around to picking it up-but for whatever reason they fled the scene leaving the trash or treasures (depending on how you look at it) behind.

Dumpster diving
As the girls continued their hunt-I crossed the creek and began walking down what I soon realized was an old road. Farther in the woods-it was beyond dusky dark. I cut down the side of the old road bed and headed back to the dump site. I could see the remains of an old fence. I looked down at my feet and realized I was standing directly in front of the old gate-it lay where it had fallen-almost rotted away camouflaged by leaves.

Hunting old bottles

We picked up stuff until it was too dark to see-all the while talking of the people who used the items. We wondered if it was the little lady of the house or the man who used the snuff jars-we wondered what the lady had canned in the ball canning jars-we wondered if she was sad when she broke the jade green saucer or if a child broke it and hid it to keep her from knowing.

Once we were home-we couldn't resist spreading out the loot to see what we'd found-even though by that point we had to use the garage flood light to see our bounty. (yes that is a deer skull in the picture-leave it to my girls to find a skull and bring it home-I haven't a clue where it is now-I shudder to think it may be under their beds-yikes)

Antique bottles

The girls took their favorite finds inside and we put the rest of our treasures back in their boxes and set them under the porch steps-where they stayed until about 2 weeks ago. A Blind Pig reader emailed me to say she wished I'd go on another treasure hunting trip-that gave me the jump start I needed to get the jars and bottles cleaned up.

Collecting old bottles

I was tickled to remember we had found 7 snuff jars-although I dropped one and broke it-the rest cleaned up good. I shared some pictures of the bottles on my facebook page the other day-and someone said-what I want to know it what will you do with it all?

2 of the ball jars now have blackberry jelly in them-the large round squaty jars now hold art supplies-the snuff jars found a home in my drinking glass cabinet-and the rest have been added to our ever growing collection of old bottles.

Old jelly jars

My favorite find of the trip-was the little glass above-its about as tall as one of the snuff jars-but much thinner. I suppose it was a jelly jar-now it sits by my bathroom sink.

When we go treasure hunting-the best thing is finding old items that haven't been broken-but coming in a close second-is the feeling we get digging through the stuff. As we wonder aloud about a certain piece it seems to give voice to the person who owned it in the first place. And when we carry our treasure home-we carry those voices with us. 

I guess I'm saying the true treasure-is having the voices of men who wore overalls and women who wore aprons lining the shelves of my home.


p.s. If you're new to the Blind Pig and would like to see some of our past trips you can check out:

Dumpster Diving In Appalachia and Treasure Hunting In Appalachia - A Touch Of The Past
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