Finding dive sites

Finding 19th Century bottles and relics is a blast!  But knowing where there are things that are worth finding is a science unto itself.  In my upcoming book “A Field Guide to American Trash”, I will be writing on this subject in depth. But I’ll just go over the basics here for now.

  • Salt Water Sites – Finding old trash in salt water locations can be a real crap shoot. Especially if you are diving from a boat, offshore somewhere, and covering a wide area where you suspect that there was activity and commerce centuries ago. There is a chance you could hit a jackpot, but a much better chance that you will come back with some conch shells for your trouble.  If you are diving on a shipwreck, that is obviously a different story, and the sky is the limit there.  But if you are in search of salt water dive spots for old bottles and relics, your best spots are along the shoreline, where there once were wharfs lined with cargo ships unloading freight.
  • Brackish and Tidal Sites- This includes underneath bridges and docks on tidal rivers, as well as the center channel of tidal rivers that had early settlements along their banks. Tidal rivers have hard packed silty bottoms, usually for many feet out from the river bank on each side. But in the center channel, you will begin to find large rocks along the bottom. As you swim along the bottom amongst these rocks, you may find batches of smaller rocks and swathes of pebbles.  Due to the current flowing, old bottles and relics often work their way down into the depths of the sandy pebbles.
  • Fresh Water – The place I dive the most often is in fresh water rivers, in early town settlements that had dwellings and neighborhoods situated along a river. The depth and speed of the rivers determine where old trash might have been tossed, and has gathered at the bottom. Bottles that area two hundred years old may be sunken down into the silty bottom, and if you’re lucky enough to find them, they will probably be preserved in absolutely perfect, sparkling condition!



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