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  #1  
Old 11-28-2010, 06:05 PM
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Burien Burien is offline
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Default How to find an Outhouse Site

I often have hunted around old homes and even live in one but have no ideas on what features one might look for to find where outhouse used to stand.

Any suggestions out there (other than sniffing the air)?

Thanks.

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Old 11-28-2010, 06:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Burien View Post
I often have hunted around old homes and even live in one but have no ideas on what features one might look for to find where outhouse used to stand.

Any suggestions out there (other than sniffing the air)?

Thanks.
Ha!!!!! That was my first suggestion!! My next was loaning you my Border Collie whenever you visit the SLV......

Dusty

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Old 11-28-2010, 06:19 PM
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Lol!!!!!

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Old 11-28-2010, 06:44 PM
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Default Check this out

In the book Urban Treasure Hunter by Micheal Chapman there is a whole section about outhouses . Mainly for bottle digging. This is a very good book and has lots of other good advice. Things to look for-

outhouses
-positioned about 50 to 100 ft from house
-positioned in a corner of the yard so that it would be down wind of house
- look for ash ,glass , shards, bricks
- the pit would be lined with bricks , stone , wood
- the pit would be used for a trash dump after no longer being used for potty issues
- use a probe to check a place that you think is a pit. Probe is about 12ft long and is used to feel the consistency of the soil.
- maybe more than one pit on site

I hope this helps. Check out that book you won't be disappointed Good luck.
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Old 11-28-2010, 06:46 PM
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don't laugh, but there's still one standing in my back yard, it's been there for over 100 years (although it hasn't been used in ages).
based on a "live model", so to speak, and other places where i've seen them, outhouses were often located in back yard of the main house, not in the front. for distance, 100 feet or so. no one liked the smell, so they weren't built too close, but no one wanted to...ahem... "run" too far either, lol.
look for possible signs of a well used path leading from the back door of the house to where the facilities may have once stood, perhaps even an old sidewalk leading from the back door to where it might have have been.

when i get my new machine i'll be concentrating on the area from the house to the outhouse as well as where the clothes line used to be. i'm thinking i "gotta" find something in those areas. also around former flower gardens and the pathways to where other outbuildings or woodsheds may have been.

Pete
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Old 11-29-2010, 12:46 AM
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thanks for the ideas! and the book reference, will have to check that one out.

i know that the house was completed in 1918, the sew was connected to in 1953, but no sigh of a septic, so there has gotta be one or more holes out there somewhere.

now to just find them.....

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Old 11-29-2010, 02:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Dustyloins View Post
Ha!!!!! That was my first suggestion!! My next was loaning you my Border Collie whenever you visit the SLV......

Dusty
Haha my suggestion was to use your nose :P ..

Here is my suggestion.. Look for a depression (where the outhouse hole used to be and is filled in now) is easy to notice if the area around it is flat.. Your SOL though if the area has lots of mounds or low spots etc.

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Old 11-29-2010, 07:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fred sanford View Post
- use a probe to check a place that you think is a pit. Probe is about 12ft long and is used to feel the consistency of the soil.
Anyone who thinks a 12ft probe is a good idea has never used a probe, or is going to send you snipe hunting when you get back.

A 6ft probe is alot to handle. A 4 ft will do just fine.

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Old 11-29-2010, 08:01 AM
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I agree with dirt weasel 4-5 ft probe is all we use to for priveys/outhouses

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Old 11-29-2010, 09:29 AM
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Yep... 4-5 ft. probe, look for depressions, away from water supply (in other words, not uphill from well), could be larger trees in the area, the trees/bushes were small when the privy was in use - acted as windbreak. Good luck, RickO

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  #11  
Old 11-29-2010, 04:17 PM
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How's this for an outhouse....

We bought a house almost a year ago that was built in 1932. The neighbor across the street is 80+ years old and said that the original owners of the house used to poo in a bucket and literally throw it out the kitchen window. Now, to me... that's gross and limits any outhouse finds we may encounter, but unfortunately, also proves that not all sites had an outhouse. So just remember buckets were also used inside the houses and locations and carried (or thrown) to dump locations.

Strangely, the owners never had plumbing in our house until I think the late 80's. Weird.... lol
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Old 12-15-2012, 07:48 PM
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One also must remember that older homes were sometimes on larger tracts of property, so you may find thru the years that as land was sold off, the outhouse may just be over the current property line. Thats why sometimes we cant locate them. They are in the neighbors backyard.

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Old 12-15-2012, 11:24 PM
Armistead Armistead is offline
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Privey digging in itself is a big hobby. They're many youtube videos on digging trash pits and outhouses with some good hints. I know one guy that rents GPR units and will search several sites, mark his spots, then go digging.
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Old 12-16-2012, 12:12 AM
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I use the Sanborn maps. My daughter is a college student so I have access to ISU's online library but I am sure you can either go to your local college or library and search their archives.
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Old 12-19-2012, 09:13 AM
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Privy sites can be full of treasure...(besides the compost kind).. Sanford hit it right on the head with how to find one...
when you're at the 50-100' area, if there are on signs of debris etc.. look for slight depressions in the ground and/or plants/flowers/bushes that aren't around the rest of the yard... Lilacs were a popular item to plant next to the outhouse.

I recently found 2 near the farm my father in law grew up on (aka..our hunting/snowmobiling etc camp).

There's a house I call the half house.. it sits on a 2track dirt path and a logging truck drove by and ripped half of it off. The guy who lived there died in '26 and he'd lived there his entire life..his sister moved in for a bit after he died and since the mid 40's it's been empty.... we have permission to hunt that land (the yard is 3ish acres..and is surrounded by 2 pine plantations)

I decided to take a walk after hunting when everyone was being lazy at the house. I found a bunch of '30-'40s bottles lying on top of a couple shallow ravines...they actually looked like dried creekbeds. There is a stand of pines where the bed ended that used to be swampy..could have emptied into that... Didn't have much time so kind of gave the place a once over as I walked. Found hundreds of old car parts...model A - Packard parts. Everything from frames/transmissions/dasboards/wiper motors/carbs etc... Hauled about 10pcs out and stacked a bunch more...hauling them back over xmas....

Saw a slight depression in the ground and some rusty cans next to it...Got on my knees and brushed the leaves away and started hand digging the soil at the center.(didn't have a shovel with me) Went down a cpl of feet and started feeling around for a liner...found a wooden birch log (small "logs"..2-3" across) liner. I followed it with my hands and marked it out. Started digging deeper and hit what I thought was swampy dirt...turned out to be clay... No time to dig through the clay until this xmas break. People used to use lime and clay to cap layers of a privy once it started stinking. I dug another spot toward what used to be the swampy area and didn't get into any clay..so hoping it's a clay cap...it's old enough to have some goodies in it....

Same day... after I got back to the house, we decided to take the kids "road hunting". we have access to roughly 1mile directly west to lake superior and 1mile north of the farm house that's private property we have access to. Was nice of my father in law's dad to hunt with all of those families. If you go the mile west, you meander through some very old logging trails and you end up at a small house on a 100'-200' "cliff" overlooking an apple orchard...this orchard dates back to when Native Americans lived in the area... I've always wanted to go snooping in the barn and the sauna and see what was in there...the old man died in the late 1800's and it's been abandoned ever since. Family still owns it..Nobody ever goes there. Finally had the chance to snoop that afternoon... hit the sauna and there was nothing in it..the stove was collapsed and junk. Hit the barn up and all the original windows/doors from the house were in there..nothing else... attached to the side of the barn was a small looking room...ended up being the privy... the seat and the box for the seat had decayed enough to have full access to the privy hole under it.... the nice thing about this site is: it won't be snow filled in the winter so I can dig it easily and I'll have it all to myself (outside of the wolves/coyotes...aka..bring knife and firearm)..

sorry for the verbosity. If you want to bottle dig in your neighborhood (if it's old enough to be worth it), hit your local library and access the Sanborn fire maps. They show the house and any outbuildings on the property...then you get to ask permission to recover/harvest "history" (as with MD'ing..never say dig)....

Many ways to dig a privy too..hope you find it worth your while.... you can find bottles that just look cool and aren't worth much. Or you can find bottles that are worth 10-12k... Guy on one of the bottle forums I frequent found a med bottle in a privy and got almost 12k for it.....

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