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Underground history part 1

Metal detecting in the Pointes

As far back as I can remember, I’ve always been drawn to the dirt, or rather, what hid within it. As a kid, I would spend summers up north digging into the side of the gravel road out in front of my grandparents’ cabin in search of fossils—a hobby which drove me to dinosaur-obsession, and made me fiercely determined to become a paleontologist in adulthood.

Although my ardent love for dinosaurs faded as I grew older, my passion for discovery did not. I became newly fixated when I saved up enough money to buy a metal detector my sophomore year. I immediately fell in love with the hobby, as it allowed me to interact with the past in a deeply personal manner, offering me the ability to be the first to hold and touch ancient relics that had been left to rot decades—if not centuries—before I stumbled upon them.

Grosse Pointe, as many of its residents very well know, is a city steeped in a rich, complex and mysterious history, given the vast amount of specific information that has been lost over the decades. In my very short time metal detecting in and around the city, I have found relics that both fit perfectly into the narrative of Grosse Pointe that I held before, and ones which have opened my eyes to history I had not yet considered. Below, I have listed a few of my notable finds, as well as my postulations regarding their historical relevance and origin:

The Bullet

Jet Miller ’24

Location: 1325 Bedford (Neighbor’s Front Lawn)


I found a .50 caliber bullet without a casing when metal detecting my neighbor’s front yard. It was about six inches down and nestled under the roots of one of the nearby trees. Most of the houses in the surrounding area were built in the early 1900s, and the .50 caliber round wasn’t invented until 1918. The round I dug up was not fired, as it is in near perfect condition aside from the patina, which makes me curious as to why it is not connected to the larger casing. I also have no idea how this would end up in my neighbor’s front yard, as there were no battles fought in the US—much less Grosse Pointe—following the invention of the .50 caliber round. My best guess is that someone who worked at a nearby military base or perhaps a factory in Detroit producing ammunition for WWII took a round home as a keepsake and accidentally dropped it on their front lawn going into their house



The Shoe Buckle

Jet Miller ’24

Location: Grosse Pointe Academy


I found the shoe buckle in the field adjacent to the Grosse Pointe Academy, along the bushes near Moran. It was only about 3 inches beneath the surface, and the mechanism within the buckle still turns slightly. Given the location, my best guess is that the buckle belonged to a student who attended the Grosse Pointe Academy, however, the land surrounding the school was used for farmland up until the 1940s, so it could have belonged to a farmer as well.

The Bumper Piece

Jet Miller ’24

Location: Matthew C Patterson Park


I found the bumper piece along the boundary of Patterson park behind the Dog Park, about eight inches beneath the surface. I was initially stumped by the piece, so I consulted an online metal detecting forum. Pretty quickly, I was told that I had found a piece of an old car bumper. Specifically, I had found the overrider of a car, which I believe was made sometime between 1930 and 1960– I am unable to verify the date because I don’t know the specific model of car it originated from.

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About the Contributor
Jet Miller ’24
Jet Miller ’24, Staff Writer
Even though he decided to take this class on a whim, Jet Miller is willing to give journalism a shot and become a hardworking staff writer for the Tower newspaper. “I thought it’d be a cool experience,” said Miller ’24. “There’s aspects about it that seem interesting and might be fun to write about, like the arts and culture.” Other than digging deep on some of his favorite topics, Miller is also an amatuer metal detectorist and is excited to start searching for treasures around Grosse Pointe. With his love for hiking, biking, traveling and running, Miller is assured that his adventurous spirit will not only take him far on the road, but far in life as well.

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