What treasures might be buried beneath the former site of Lansford Town Hall?
The answers will come on Saturday.
The Lansford Historical Society will conduct a privy dig at 26 East Patterson St., where the town's fire station and town hall were built in 1906. The historic building, which had been located between the American Fire Company headquarters and the former Lansford High School, was torn down three months ago, to be supplanted by a pole building.
But Coaldale resident Bob Perrin, well-known local digger extraordinaire, noticed that early maps indicate that a double outhouse once stood at the rear of the site.
Outhouses were used as garbage pits in the days before municipal trash collection, and so many old bottles and artifacts can be found buried deep beneath layers of ash and clay and dirt.
Perrin sought and obtained permission to dig at the site in search of potential treasures, which, if found, will be turned over to the historical society and displayed in its museum at 117 E. Bertsch St.
Lansford Borough Council gave approval for the dig two weeks ago, but not before expressing concerns regarding safety and liability.
Addressing those issues, Perrin promised that he'd start and finish the dig prior to any construction work done in preparation for the pole building.
In addition, he explained that his excavation would be properly filled and tamped. Plus, spectators who step on borough-owned land will be required to sign a hold harmless agreement.
Illustrating the extent of coordination such a project requires, permission also was required from the borough insurance company, the fire company, engineers and borough council.
Perrin, an expert in vintage bottles, has completed more than 1,000 privy digs since 2004. He has donated many of his finds to local historical societies and has given talks to local groups and historians.
He said outhouse sites can hold old medicine bottles, some of which are valuable. According to the society, the area next to the former town hall parcel included an 1800s-era hotel, bolstering the possibility of old bottles buried on-site.
Old bottles and other discarded items from 100 to 150 years ago shed new light on culture and lifestyles of days gone by, say historians.
The society expressed appreciation for cooperation by all parties.
"Permission from Lansford Borough Council is allowing us to dig this site before the new Lansford Fire Company building is constructed on the site. Any historical bottles or other historic items found will be donated to the Lansford Historical Society Museum and possibly other local historical societies if items from other towns are found," explained Bill Harleman, society president.
The dig will begin Saturday morning and is expected to last much of the day.
The location is east of the old Lansford High School building, not far from Springgarden Street.