For the past few years, I’ve been interested in exploring the site of the ghost town of Deward, Michigan, with a metal detector. I finally made time to visit the site of Deward on May 28. The town was founded around 1901 by David E. Ward, a surveyor and lumber baron, to feed the growing nation’s endless demand for white pine lumber as it expanded westward. The town rapidly declined around 1912, when the supply of virgin white pine was exhausted and the saw mill fell silent. Today, all that remains are dozens of foundations and garbage pits with old bottles, jars, and random iron remnants of days past.
Deward is an interesting location for historians and relic hunters, but not as much for metal detectorists. The site is extremely “dirty”, completely saturated with old metal bits from machinery, buildings, and personal items like mason jar lids. These old mason jar lids were made of zinc, and contained a porcelain inner layer. Zinc has similar conductivity as nickel and brass, so the metal detector beeped favorably over these objects. Therefore, I dug a lot of jar lids. At one point I found a distorted old gear from an unknown piece of machinery. My goal, as always, was to find an old coin from the era, but the only coin I found in Deward was a 2000 Washington quarter.
I enjoyed the hours spent at the Deward site, trying to imagine where the buildings once stood and what life must have been like in the tiny isolated town. I didn’t find any old coins, but I enjoyed the hike and exploration.