Cans in the Rocks/ You Called It!
It was Forth of July weekend when CMD went on a family outing in the mountains. His brother in law rented a cabin, and Dan went fishing with his father-in-law, while keeping an eye open for dumps full of beer cans. They were looking for fishing spots along a river, when Dan spotted some rust among the rocks. Once they were done fishing for the day, Dan returned and found 30s cans!
Since the area was so rocky, the beer drinkers back in the 30s didn’t bother to bury their trash at this long forgotten camp spot. They just threw their trash in the cracks and crevices among the huge rocks and boulders that lined the river. Out of sight, out of mind. Dan spent a few hours, digging up nice gold Buds and shiney Pabst OIs while hoping for a brand change. He found a few lo-pro mystery cone tops, which he took home anyways.
I got a call from Dan a few days later saying he found a Silver State Beer cone top! Only problem was, that the can was badly sun-faded, BUT still a Silver State. We needed to go back and a return trip was in order. We invited Dale to go and off we went on a nice Sunday morning. Once we got there, it wasn’t long before we were in 10-foot deep crevices digging up rusty cans. Mostly food cans with a Pabst OI every now and then to keep us interested. We found a smashed flat Grand Prize Lager OI (the 1st GP) but it was the only one. Dale said he can fix it.
We dug and raked for a few hours and had about a case or so of cans to take home. It was still early so we decided to look for more spots. One quick check of the maps, and there’s an old fishing creek that needed to be explored. We drove maybe 15 or 20 miles and found our road the would lead us to glory (we hoped!). We only drove about 50 feet after making the turn and we see rust in the woods! We park, get out and split up. Within minutes, we are going thru old trash piles of black Millers and Schlitz flats. Further and deeper in the woods are more and more piles – some with beer cans and some not. We found a few St Louis ABC OIs but they are sun faded into oblivion…still a good sign!
We took only a few keepers as most of the cans were common 50s cans and decided to head towards the creek. We went maybe a quarter mile when Dale spotted some rusty barrels in the woods. Dan says he’ll "run" and check it out. Dale and I wait in the truck. Dale comments it doesn’t look like Dan is running. Dan was scope-ing out several piles of rust, and the further uphill he went, the more piles he saw. Then Dale said to me, "watch him find some Acme Bocks." Dan gives us a wave and says to bring the shovels. We get over there and there is an Acme Bock from Vernon (Los Angeles) sticking out of the dirt. It is faded and rusted but beautiful!
In addition, there is a large pile of beer cans, maybe 30 feet long and up to 10 feet wide in a dried up ditch! The adrenaline was really pumping now! We all pick a spot and start flipping cans over. Instantly, I found the rare Brewer’s Best Beer IRTP flat top by Atlantic Brewing Co of Chicago! Not just one, but bunches! Each one a little better than the previous one! Mixed in are silver Grand Prizes – the first ones after the IRTPs. Never found those before! Striped IRTP Pabsts and Blatz First Milwaukee Beer and Coors flat tops are quickly tossed over our shoulders into the discard pile.
I found an Acme Bock and more silver GPs. Then I dig some gold IRTP Grand Prizes! Yeah Buddy! Dale and Dan are digging the same. Condition is great and we have some great labels. Our keeper piles were growing and growing. Dan is finding a few more Acme Bocks while Dale and I find an occasional one or two. We were having tons of fun because this type of dump only comes around once ever few years. Mixed in were black Tivoli Aristocrats – some IRTP and some not (both different labels) and a few Country Club hi-pro cones and Ebling Beer crowntainiers.
The cans were layered up to 5-6 cans deep. At the bottom, there was a dried mud layer where the cans were so well preserved it was unbelievable! We had to pinch ourselves to make sure we weren’t dreaming! Maybe an hour and a half passed by and we had well over 300 cans to pack up and take home! We certainly didn’t have enough boxes, but we did have about 10 buckets, newspaper and plastic bags. We filled up the back of my truck – not completely but pretty full and a first since I moved to New Mexico!
We still had a long drive home and made a plan to clean and split up the cans at Dale’s next Sunday. It took hours to clean up all the cans. Many still need another dipping, but they were clean enough to know what was there and we started the splitting process, which took another couple hours to complete. All cans had to be separated by brand and then we took turns picking from there. We only found a dozen Acme Bocks out of the thousands of cans were dug up but that’s why they are rare.
A return trip a few weeks later yielded the best Acme Bock of the dump, found by Dale. Now the real kicker of this story is that were we never on the right road to go to the fishing creek! We missed it by a mile. It was one awesome mistake! I checked Google-Earth and saw that we never went far enough! We did check out the creek but found only a few 50s cans and soda pop flats.
We were happy? Yes? Were we hopping around? Yes! That day Team Happy Hops was formed! CMD, Dale and myself…we hope to get a few more outing done this year before the snow flies.
Remember to get out and dig. It’s the best way to build a collection while keeping your checkbook intact! Invite some buddies and just go. No excuses. Just get out and dig!