THE DUMPING CLOSE TO HOME CAPER
As suggested in a thread in the RB newsroom, one doesn’t have to fly cross-country to find good cans. One can travel within 15 minutes of his house and bring in a good bounty of cans. That is the case with Brad Flinders of Taos, New Mexico. As for me, I had a "short" 2- hour drive. Our other dumping companion for the trip was Steve Thompson of Colorado. Steve had to make the "long haul" of 6 hours to Brad’s abode. Steve had suggested to us a while back that he was tired from digging too many Coors cans in Colorado and he wanted a change of scenery. I told Steve, great, but half jokingly I told him he has to take all the Coors cans we were to find back to Colorado with him! We had a fourth for this trip, RB Prez John Smoller, who was supposed to drive down with Steve but John had 2 commitments that he couldn’t get out of. Brad lives in resort country and in the old days, the locals seemed to find their first road out of town and just toss their trash. The only other place I can personally compare this to for dumpiness is Bob Lavelle’s Lake of the Ozarks. Bob’s motto is go to where cans were found before, simple but true. Taos has been hit hard for dumping. In the 70’s there was a hard core beer can digger here and in the 80s, Mike Murphy and Scott Rollert from Colorado would come down to Taos 2 or 3 times a year. Notice the pattern, Colorado RBers come to New Mexico to find cans???? (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) . Steve and I met up at Brad’s place Friday night and the plan was to dig all weekend.
We were up relatively early Saturday morning and the first order of business was breakfast. But this being the "Land of Manyana" (land of tomorrow for those of you in Rio Linda!), the only place open was Micky D’s. We had our sites on one of a ½ dozen places in town that serve up killer breakfast burritos but nothing was open before 8am. We found that strange for a town that gets a great deal of money from tourism. Brad had spied a roadside dump a while back that he had scouted and this was to be our first stop of the day. Piles of rust down a steep hillside could be seen from the road. There was a guard-rail along the side of the canyon but no place to stop until we could find a break in the guard and thus a pull-off. The break in the guard-rail also served as a dumping point for people throwing their trash as well. We stopped, got our "implements of destruction" and headed for the cans. Lots of cans but no age, most of what we could found was early 60’s. We poked around for a half hour or so and took maybe a half case of soda flats between us. It was off to the now infamous Acme Bock dump.
This would make our third time back to this dump. Both previous times were in winter and there were places where we couldn’t dig because the ground was frozen. Being mid-July that wasn’t a problem any longer. The neat thing about this dump was everything was in relatively good condition, most cans, whatever they were, had lots of color. We had done a pretty good job the previous times, the only thing I was finding now were ACL soda bottles. Some really cool ones with running waiters on them. These were along the top of the dump where the ground was frozen. Steve was finding some beer cans he hadn’t dumped before most notably some Acme (the non-IRTP stein girl and the yellow cans). We also found Millers, Blatz, Buds, A-1 flats and Jet Malt Liquor zips. The age of this dump was late 1948 to about 65. To our dismay, Steve was keeping Coors flats because they had great color and in good shape! Steve was laughing at me for keep a phallic looking flashlight and a porcelain toilet flush knob. Hey, I take anything home with me that I may be able to peddle later. As stated before we had done a pretty good job with this dump before and no more Acme bocks were found. We were off for greener pastures and although we hit this dump pretty hard, I won’t put a tombstone on it just yet. It still may yield some more surprises at a later time. Always a good dump to prime us up and get the dumping juices flowing.
We started back out and wanted to find out how to get to the dirt road that was above this dump. If you followed the road down and the switchback to where it went up again, it was impassible to the road where we wanted to go. Numerous turns and backtracking we found the road we wanted to get on. We knew we had the right road because Brad had hiked up the canyon and placed some rusty cans where the road came out on. As it turned out it was a road we were on before on a previous trip but had not gone this far down. Also there was a dump we had been to before but for some strange reason decided not to dig. From the surface, it looked liked a dumptruck had dropped a load of dirt on it, and it looked like the age wasn’t there (I think more so because it looked like hard-digging). Brad had found a spot that had some blue Hamms crown aluminum cans and stated that we should dig for just a bit. Brad and I poked around for a little bit and Steve went off to the other side to dig. He yelled over and said look at this, a Tivoli bock! Well not digging anything close as exciting as that, I had over to where he was and started digging. Hit a vein of Shasta Orange soda flat tops that looked like they were drank yesterday. Steve continued to pull out more Tivoli bocks, condition was lacking but still something cool to dig. Then he pulled out a can in a can and sure enough it was another Tivoli bock in very nice shape. It was then I found another can in a can and it too turned out to be a nice Tivoli bock. We had maybe a dozen of them and then Steve finds another bock can, Canadian Ace bock, even had bock stamped on the lid. Never dug that before but alas, there was only one. Brad had mossied down a ways and found another older spot to dig. But it was apparent that bottle diggers had been there. They were ambitious too. They had this 10-foot trench dug about 4 feet deep. There was still lots more to dig but the wind kicked up and upwind was something dead, very dead and very rotten. Steve told us later that he thought the smell came from some glass jar he broke but this was definitely something dead. It was now close to lunchtime so we drove the short 15 miles back to Brad’s unloaded the booty and had a quick bite to eat before we headed back out.
Next it was off to a mountain lake that was on Brad’s 30s map of the area. It was on a road that if you weren’t looking for it, you would drive right by it. It was a very narrow unimproved one-lane road and not had changed form the 30’s! The lake was about 5 miles up. We saw very little trash or litter on the way up. There were numerous camping spots (full) that will warrant coming back later in the season with a detector. Near the top, Steve spotted a dump. Probably about 5-6 feet across but very apparent we weren’t the first ones to dig here. Lots of broken glass and roached cans were in the dump. After a little digging I uncovered some black Acmes but decided it wasn’t worth the effort to dig the rest of it out due to the poor condition of the beer cans we did find. Jumping back into the truck it was off again to the lake. We could see it now, a very beautiful lake. They were also probably a dozen other vehicles parked in the lot. We got out to look around and unfortunately it decided to rain and rain hard. The raindrops were huge, almost the size of a silver dollar. Then it was a mixture between sleet and snow plopping down on the vehicles. We decided at this time to come back later when the weather was more cooperative and maybe not so many people around.
Since Red River, New Mexico was a few miles to the west, we decided to check it out. I had never been there but knew it was old and a touristy type of town. Here nestled in some of the most beautiful scenery in the state is the raunchiest, glitzy tourist trap I’ve seen. I’ve been to tourist traps before but this place takes a cake. Gawdy might be a good description for this place. They tore down all the old buildings and erected these multiple story ski lodges and restaurants. This is one of two places in New Mexico that has been overrun by Texans (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). Think Wisconsin Dells or what happened to Central City, Colorado once that legalized gambling. YUK. The difference between Taos and Red River is Taos has restrictions on building designs, everything has to be southwest motif. Red River patterns itself after Disney! We were thirsty so we did stop at a watering hole in town and ordered of all things, Isotopes Pale ale from Albuquerque.
We decided to take the back road into Taos to look around before we called it a day. Had we found nothing more that day, it still would have been a good day of digging. We had passed an old landfill, which Brad had stated he had been to before. He said most of it had been bulldozed. As we were driving past it, on the other side of the road I spotted some rust. Most times when there is a landfill, always count on the cheapskates who don’t want to pay the dumping fee and will dump either across from the site or down the road from it. That was the case here, down the road some was the illegal dump- site and piles of rust were everywhere.
We all got out and scouted around, flipping over cans half buried in the sand. One side of the can would be nice, the other, having been exposed to the elements, were toast. Brad and Steve wandered in one direction and I took off in another. It was then I discovered a pile of cans with large single opener punch holes. Upon closer inspection these had non-beadded lids. It was then I saw some Bud eagle claws. Cool, 30s cans! They were all scattered around a decent sized tree and appeared to have some depth. After scoping out the piles of cans, I wanted to call the others to help me dig in this spot. I whistled a number of times until I caught their attention and then shout those magic words, "30s cans!" One of the first cans I flipped was cream colored, "what the heck is this ", I pondered to myself. It was then I could see the outline of writing of an Acme ale, the woodgrain can. Never found that can before, even when I lived in California. It was faded thus the cream color. I went to the east side of the tree thinking the cans there would have been sheltered for the sunlight. Steve and Brad were digging on the west side. As it turned out the cans were in better shape on the side facing the sun. All I could figure out was the sun kept that side dryer whereas the shady side tended to retain water. Lots and lots of mystery cans but every now and then, out would pop a nice Acme ale. Bud OIs and Pabst OIs were the rule of this little spot (probably over 500 cans) but we found over 50 Acme ales. Trouble was after cleaning only about a half a case was worth keeping but still fun to dig. Also found some Coors waterfall cans as well. This area had some depth to it and Steve is just a dumping machine with his hand digger. Brad and I let him go after the cans while we searched the surrounding areas some more. There were mostly only oil and beer cans in this dumping ground. I also save oil cans, especially if they are from the 30s (I believe painted label oil cans were introduced in the 20s). I kept finding a label of oil can, I’ve been searching for a long time, a Golden West can, very graphic with mountains and a sunset on it. Trouble was, they were exposed and toasty. I let Brad know of my frustration in not finding a good example of that can. A short while later, when I went back to help Steve dig, Brad comes back carrying 4 oil cans and says, "Dan I think I found a spot you need to dig out and oh by the way, Here’s a Golden West can for you! Wow! just awesome. I went to the oil can spot and dug out a few more cans including another can I’ve been looking for, a Mallard Oil from Albuquerque! I had broken my good hoe awhile back at Route 66 dump (very hard digging). I had bought a Walmart hoe for this trip. Be forewarned, Walmart hoes are good for a pounding or two and then they break as well. The blade had broken off and all I had left to it was a hook. We then went back to see what Steve was digging and he had found some Pabst Ale OIs, another new can dug in New Mexico. Steve had also uncovered just one ABC beer OI. At this time it’s around 6pm and Brad suggested we head back. We had a bunch of cans to clean and we were all getting hungry. It would also provide us a chance to see if all these mystery cans would clean up. This would be the first place to hit tomorrow.
Brad put some burgers on the grill while Steve and I did some triage on the cans. We needed to sort by brand then examine which were the best candidates to clean up. We first hosed off the cans and get the dirt off so the acid could do its job. We had two large buckets of acid going and let them soak over night.
The next morning it was time to see what the acid cleaned up. We threw away a bunch of cans that didn’t clean and then got started on another batch of cans to clean. Again much to our dismay we couldn’t find any other place for breakfast except McDonalds. There was a Burger King but the manager had failed to open the store! It was off to the 30s pile again to clean it out. More of the same but it turned out and did a good job the night before. Did I mention, Steve took like 20 pounds of beer and soda bottle caps from here! We hung around 30-45 minutes and decided it was time to find another place. We convinced Brad to check out the landfill across the road. He was right it was bulldozed but along the pushed up edges of dirt, you could see rust and broken glass. I headed off for a tree line way in the back of the dumping ground. It was about a ½ mile away but when I got there, I saw piles of beer cans. Again I whistled for the fellas to come over here. Brad drove the truck up the trail. This area was mostly 50s cans but what the heck, they are after all still beer cans! This was an early 50s area with A-1, Blatz, Schlitz, Hamms, Bud, Pabst and a sprinkling of little green meanines (Gluek Stite 8oz). Also throw in some Country Clubs 8oz as well. There was pile after pile. Again we just turned loose our dumping machine Steve on the dumps. There wasn’t too much depth in these piles, they were maybe 5-6 cans deep. Brad and I wandered up the road and again more and more piles of cans. Steve then got into an area that had some depth and found a vein of Blatz USBC 39-20, that had the brown triangle on it. We had to take them, they were just too nice to leave. Of course Steve had to hide a few nice Coors in the pile thinking Brad and I wouldn’t notice! Every now and then he would uncover a Goebel bantam 8oz in decent shape. We helped Steve dig some and found lots of Bantams from Oakland. Then he dug, just one, a very nice Karls K. The cans from this spot were the nicest of the area. So much so, we didn’t go back and collect from the other piles of cans. All told we spent about 2 hours here and knowing Steve had a long ride home and still more cans to clean, we decided to head back to Brad’s.
It took us another hour or so to clean and divvy the cans. Steve ended up with most of the cans and he meticulously packed and wrapped each can and item in separate plastic bags. We were glad Steve was able to take some stuff home with him. He really couldn’t fit much more in his truck. We said our goodbyes and parted ways. My only hitch on the way home was there was some king of parade and festival in town and sat in traffic, without moving, for ½ hour. I called Brad on the phone and asked for a bypass through town and his directions worked flawlessly.
We never did get to the other places Brad had lined up for us (which is OK). That just leaves us more to do on the next trip. The funny thing about this trip is we had driven past these very dumps before without knowing to stop. We all had a great time, its always fun to dig with someone different for they new stories and new perspectives on the how-tos of dumping, cleaning etc. The dumping gods had smiled on us that weekend.
Until next time
Steve Thompson, Brad Flinders and Dan Scoglietti