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Hunting for treasure

Minneota’s Nomeland enjoys exploring with metal detector

Photo by Jim Muchlinski Tom Nomeland’s metal detector pinpoints objects buried a foot or less under the ground. Efficiency with extracting the objects is important for getting the most samples in a limited amount of time. It’s often possible to tell the type of object being detected based on the sound made by the detector.

Tom Nomeland likes to make discoveries, and that enthusiasm motivates him to pursue his favorite hobby.

Nomeland enjoys metal detecting at area parks, public properties, church yards and homes. He bought his first metal detector in 2009 after he retired from his job as manager of Universal Forest Products in Minneota.

He detects in his spare time, along with serving as pastor at Bethel Fellowship Church in Minneota. His home is near the city’s Riverside Park, which he sometimes uses for practice.

“I like to explore and to discover things,” Nomeland said. “I’m that way both with metal detecting and with Scripture. I enjoy seeing what I can discover.”

He said there are many locations that offer good prospects for metal detecting. Sites of widely attended events such as football games are good starting points for beginners, since they get replenished every year as people leave behind loose change and sometimes other metal objects.

Experienced hobbyists look for places that have a history of gatherings. Sometimes it’s possible in the local area to unearth an object that’s more than a century old.

“A place that dates back to the late 1800s is ideal,” Nomeland said. “It’s possible to find some really interesting old coins, tokens and toys.”

He metal detects on both public and private property. He said most private property owners are willing to let him search for objects. He sometimes gets invitations from owners who are curious about what might be buried under their ground.

Most found objects have a depth of less than six inches. Sophisticated detectors can identify objects at depths of up to about a foot.

Efficiency is a key to successful treasure hunting. By knowing their machines, hobbyists can often tell the size of an object based on the sound that’s made when it gets detected.

Once a potentially good find is identified, the key is to pinpoint the exact spot, dig the hole and extract the object within about a minute.

“It’s very important to be precise with the location,” Nomeland said. “If someone’s off, there’s a strong possibility of damaging the object. It’s no big deal with average everyday items, but we’re careful since we might be finding something old and rare.”

With efficient methods, a hobbyist can take about 15 samples in an hour and have good possibilities of turning up something unusual at least once.

Prices of detectors range from as little as $30 to more than $10,000. Nomeland invested in what’s considered a good metal detector at a cost of $1,000 when he started, and that first detector paid for itself in its finds.

He once found an 1880 Indian head penny that was buried about an inch deep in a garden.

He found an 1874 coin from Denmark at the former Israel Lutheran Church, a country church near Minneota.

He’s found tokens from several former Minneota businesses such as a grocery store and a pool hall, as well as tokens for a world exposition in California and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.

“It’s interesting to wonder about the stories behind some of the objects,” Nomeland said. “Somehow they all made it to rural Minnesota.”

Occasionally he’s helped someone locate a lost object. In one instance he detected a diamond pendant that was valued at several hundred dollars.

Even if he doesn’t find anything unusual in a metal detecting session, he finds that it’s rewarding to just go somewhere knowing that there’s always the possibility.

“I don’t go out as often these days as when I first started, but I like to detect on a regular basis even for just an hour or two,” he said. “I always enjoy it.”

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