Buried Treasure: Yes, outhouses can be archaeological bonanzas

Barbara Arnold |

A perfume bottle unearthed at an Eau Claire dig.
A perfume bottle unearthed at an Eau Claire dig.

Treasures from the late 1800s and early 1900s – bottles intact and broken, pottery shards, heirloom tomato seeds, doll’s heads, metal scraps – can be had just four-and-a-half feet deep (or a bit more) underneath your lovely green sod. Seasoned privy and trash pit excavators Mark Youngblood and Brian Mann will share their tools, techniques, and treasures from 2-4pm Saturday, May 14, at the Chippewa Valley Museum in Eau Claire. On a recent dig on Eau Claire’s west side, the two men used a metal probe, shovels, and their own sweat equity to figure out the best place to look and dig. Within a half hour, they were pulling up old hand-blown and manufactured bottles – whiskey, perfume, medicine, and food – as well as shards of pottery, green ware, glassware, and pieces of metal. Two hours later, they were done. The hole was filled, and the lawn looking untouched. Youngblood, who is a scrap metal dealer, got his start digging for bottles when he was eight years old growing up in White Bear Lake, Minn., while Mann, a retired junk man, got into this hobby at about the same age, but in Altoona. The hardest part about digging the hole is getting the owner’s permission. If you would like these two to explore your property, call Youngblood at (651) 329-0815. 

Outhouse and Trash Pit Archeology with Mark Youngblood and Brian Mann • Saturday, May 14, 2-4pm • Chippewa Valley Museum, Carson Park • free for museum members and children under age five, $7 adults, $4 youth ages 5 to 17 • (715) 834-7871 

Journey Ahead

We all get old. In fact, some of us, right at this very moment, ARE old. V1's guide to challenges and opportunities of growing older in the Chippewa Valley. Presented by the ADRC of Eau Claire County