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Zumbro Valley Treasure Hunters  Club 

President Randy Kuznicki

About Us

The old adage that someone's trash is another's treasure has avid subscribers among the members of Zumbro Valley Treasure Hunters.

The club, which began in 1980, has 48 members who share the common interest of using metal detectors to find, recover and preserve pieces of history.

"Don't get me started with what kind of a fanatic I am about this," said club founder Bruce Kennedy, of Rochester. "I've done it for almost 40 years, and to me it never gets old and you never stop learning.

"With this, history becomes a part of all of us. We do our research and the so-called junk can end up having some real historical significance."

One fresh in his mind was when "hunters" were concentrating in Lancaster, Wis., the site of a presidential campaign stop for Abraham Lincoln in 1860.

There, they found tokens dating to the same year.

"It was amazing," Kennedy said. "They were rusty, yes, but they were able to find something that had been in the ground for 150 years."

Then there's been the recovery of mercury silver dimes, liberty nickels, buffalo nickels and wheat pennies. Of those found, a 1916 D dime was determined to be worth $4,000, and $700 for a rare penny from the late 1800s. Still, there were no sales.

"Treasure can come in all kinds of things, but look around the room and few will tell you they sell anything. I know I don't," said current club president Randy Kuznicki, of Goodhue, who has been detecting seriously since 1979. "There is fun to finding things, sure, but to many the biggest fun is in the research. That's when it all can take on added meaning."

Closer to home have been their hunts in small towns, cornfields, backyards and city parks.

 
 

Time spent in Minnesota communities and counties such as Litchfield, Meeker and Rock Dell has been particularly revealing.

"I remember finding 17 (Civil War) dimes in my grandma's yard in 1991," said club secretary Sheldon Peik of Rochester. "It's exciting what you can discover, providing you look in the right spots."

Club founding father Harvey Tepoel, a veteran of 37 years of detecting, says targeting old small towns with family picnic sites and meeting places is key.

Talking with elderly members of the community is an added, and sometimes necessary, bonus.

"It might seem like we've done this a long time," Tepoel said. "But I've always loved it and probably always will. It's amazing what you can find and what you can learn."

 

Metal detectors come in varied sizes and costs, some as low as $200, others as high as $1,700. The MineLab version is said to be a favorite among club members.

"Whatever the unit, you have to learn the basics, because you're putting a radio signal into the ground that gives you sound back." said Jerry Riemersma, a club member since 1989. "And then you have to interpret that. It's basically a computer with a memory and different programs. You create an electromagnetic field and learn that different items give you different tones that mean different things.

"We've even recovered things 10 inches in the ground, and of course when you do that, you have to take extra care not to carve it up too bad," Riemersma said.

Over the years, the club has been a resource for local law enforcement.

"There have been some cases where we've helped go through the parks or other places to look for articles of interest," said Kennedy.

Other community members have enlisted their assistance in locating personal items.

"We've found rings, other jewelry, car keys, property stakes, you name it," Kennedy said. "It can be more of a service to the community than you might expect."

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