Driving back to El Paso from Albuquerque from the Roadrunner chapter show in May, Wiley and Jay found a huge dumping ground just outside Socorro, New Mexico. They had found Tru Blu beer and ales, Century concave bottom cones, Pabst ale OI, the first ABC beer OI, the first Coors, the first Buds and some Blatz ale cones. Now Ed and I had dumped around Socorro pretty heavily 20+ years ago with very good success and were anxious to see where this place was. Ed had contacted Jay and the plan was to meet him and Wiley back at that dump the following Saturday. Wiley is a charter member of the revitalized Roadrunner chapter and Jay is an army medic stationed in El Paso. Old time Roadrunner chapter member Dandy Don Bruce also made the ride down with us to the meet the other two members of our motley cru.
We met at the gas station on the north side and town and saw Wiley’s rig. Cant miss it, it hasn’t been washed in 10 years and its filled to the brim of current Mexican beer cans, most of which are still full! Wiley writes the South of the Border column of current Mexican beer cans for the BCCA magazine. Wiley and Jay were nowhere to be found. They were already out digging! Off to the distant we could see two figures so that had to be them. We walked out to where they were and they already had found some keepers. This dump is big, we are talking acres with little trash piles all over the place and all the trash piles are pre-war. The reason Ed and I never found this place before is that we never dumped this part of town and had always used the other 1 of 2 exits off the freeway. Because of very little cover most of the cans were roached with only just a stripe of color but hey these are 30s cans. We each had our own plastic bags to fill up…no need to wrap each can in newspaper since there was so much rust on the cans that the rust protected the paint! (what little paint there was left on the can!) It also looked like bottle diggers had dug at this dump before as some of the trash piles had previously been dug with the beer cans blown out and thrown in a radius from the center. We each got a case or so of mystery cans and wanted to try our luck elsewhere.
We started driving around all the back roads of this little town and had no trouble finding more dumps until it started raining. Usually a rainstorm in New Mexico last about 5 minutes, it rains as hard as it can and then it peters out and then it’s over. That wasn’t the case for that day. It rained and rained and rained. So much so when we spotted a mom and pop restaurant we decided it would be a good time for a bite to eat and see if we could wait it out. Looking over the maps, it was suggested the famous Mitchells dump was only 15 miles south in San Antonio, New Mexico. The Owl bar and café is the only thing that puts that place on the map, famous for the green chili cheeseburgers. I had tried to find the old Mitchell’s dump a few years back with Pete Duncan but never could locate it although we did find another dump not too far away. After we ate we figured that was as good a place as any to start find cans……….go where you found them before!
Ed stated that the dump was exactly behind the Owl bar, I told Ed it was down and across the road. We were both right, the original dump was behind the Owl bar but there was nothing left except a bunch of old car parts. The spot I took Pete to apparently wasn’t the original dump but a different dump. When I took Pete there we found some silver post-war Grand Prize cans, Pearls, A-1s and Country Clubs. This place had more of the some including the bell tower Mitchells and the earlier blue dot version. Most of the cans were located at the bases of these trees that had very sharp thorns and points on them, like a Mesquite tree on steroids. Jay only had shorts on and was sorry he didn’t wear long pants that day. We hung out there for a little while and even though we were finding cans and there were more cans to uncover, we wanted the older stuff. I suggested we go to the Javelina (Mexican Wild Pig) dump.
It was another hour south and a dump that Ed, Dale and I found coming back from a digging trip that spring. It was late in the day and we saw these wild pigs. Ed wanted to get a picture of them and when we stopped, would you believe there was a dump along this road? Lots of rusty zips (national brands) and glass and at first not too much age but it was indeed a beer can dump. A few flats tops here and there nothing old until I picked up an Old Tankard ale OI that I could barely read. I looked around for more without any luck. Since it was found in a gully, it could have come from anywhere and we didn’t have the time to find the source. It was stored in my mind for a place to come back to when we had more time. That time was now.
Half way to the dump, I told Ed my leg was itching. I’m thinking I scratched it on one of those Mesquite spikes. Then I feel another itch/sensation right above my knee. Turns out a fire ant had crawled up my pants leg and was biting as it went up. I squished it right above the knee but now had 3 or 4 bites. When we arrived at the dump everyone scattered and I went to the spot I had found the Pabst ale. Looked around without finding much of anything and saw a barbed wire fence in the gully. I had my Gold Bug metal detector out this time and within minutes found a split label Bud in grade 2 shape. So I started walking down this fence line, swinging the detector and start getting some decent signals. First can I find is a 30s Coors, half the paint is there and it looks like it may clean up. I start finding these Coors cans every 3 feet or so, some buried 1 foot deep. I yell over to Ed and he starts helping me dig. Soon Wiley and Jay come over and we unearthed about 13-14 Coors from the 30s. The only non-Coors was decent Pabst Old Tankard ale OI Upon cleaning none of the Coors were worth saving but it sure was fun digging them out. My guess is that they were exposed to the elements for years before being covered up and buried in the creek bed. While Wiley is helping Ed and I, Jay goes off in another direction. He comes back across the road holding Tru Blu beer OIs! I said, "Where did you get those?" He said, " Right over there and there’s more!" Since the Coors trough was played out, we all head over to Jay’s spot and immediately were pulling out more Tru Blu OIs, so many that we had Wiley as a runner bringing 4 or 5 back to the truck. Soon we had piles of them, decent ones where we could see the paint and then mystery piles. Every time Wiley turned around, Ed was throwing him 2 or 3 Cans at once! I took 2 cases of cans we could read and Wiley took 2 cases of mystery cans although we knew what they were. Then the rain caught up to us and started again. It was now about 630pm and we still had a 3-hour ride home so we packed up and said our goodbyes and headed out
The cans didn’t clean up much from the state when they were pulled from the ground. They were found in the middle of a dry creek bed. There were maybe 5 keepers but it sure was fund to pull them out of the ground. The following week when Don was cleaning his take from the trip, he tripped and tore his knee up. He just now is back on his feet. A return trip is planned when we can all get our schedules coordinated again.