Eagle Mountain Correspondent
EAGLE MOUNTAIN -- Underneath the dust, dirt and shrubbery of Utah, Duane Bylund feels there are pieces of history awaiting discovery.
A few of his prized discoveries include two $20 1855 gold coins, which he believes were equivalent to two-months pay for an Army private and two tiny gold coins dated 1852. He also discovered a diamond ring, with 17 intact diamonds estimated at 1 1/2 carats, which he believes is a relic from the period when Gen. Albert Sydney Johnston's Army passed through the area.
Bylund has also unearthed bullets, buttons, coins and military artifacts. He has historically traced many of the relics to their time period and linked items to specific infantry (i.e. 10th and 5th infantry) and dragoons (or mounted cavalry) which passed through the area.
He claims he did not like history as a kid. "I love history now ... I love history when I'm looking for artifacts," Bylund said.
He affectionately refers to himself as a "relic hunter" as he shows off his trusty metal detector -- the tool of his trade.
Bylund got his start in metal detecting in 1969. However, he claims he has stopped and started several times during the years since and dug in again as a serious "relic hunter" about seven years ago.
Metal detecting may not be as easy as it looks. Bylund said there is a technique to forming and following search patterns in order to achieve the best ground coverage. "It requires a lot of patience and you have to have a goal," he said. "It's a lot of exercise, too."
"We are not just after coins," Bylund said. "We are after information. Any relic you find gives you information.
"Wherever anyone went in the past, they left little artifacts behind. You can touch history and feel the people there ... its kind of like their spirit still exists in that spot," Bylund said.
For those interested in experimenting as a relic hunter, Bylund suggests studying history, researching and reading reference books. As a relic hunter, he said, "You follow in their footsteps," referring to people in history books.
It is necessary to get permission from property owners in order to use your metal detector on private property. Bylund sometimes gets discouraged when property owners will not allow access to their land. He feels he is offering a service by researching and investigating the local history.
Although he will not divulge his favorite or best hunting grounds, Bylund does intend to co-publish a book with a friend about discoveries they have made as relic hunters, describing what they have found and why the relics were there.
Bylund's current tool of choice is a White's Spectrum XLT. He claims it is sturdy, lightweight and well-balanced -- all important factors for a successful day as a relic hunter.
Debra Hart can be contacted at email@example.com.
This story appeared in The Daily Herald on page C6.