Metal Detecting Along Sand Creek with Joe at the Bowen Meadow Ranch

By Mike Bowen

co-author, We Found the Lost Sand Creek Site

Chuck Bowen and Joe Harbert metal detected along Sand Creek at the Bowen Meadow Ranch Tuesday, January 30. 

Chuck and Joe metal detecting at the Bowen Meadow Ranch on Tuesday, January 30.

Joe and Chuck found several great finds! They knew they were in a good spot with the first finds being some square nails and horseshoe nails. In just a few hours hunting, they found two iron rods, a bullet, a musket ball, a railroad spike likely used as a tomahawk, two percussion caps, and a few other items.  

Not everything found at Sand Creek is from the 1864 event. It is simply proof that other activity has occurred over the years. 

One item they found near the pond was a vintage fishing stringer, circa 1940. It was likely from someone fishing out there before Chuck’s grandparents bought that ranch in 1948.  

They also found an 1866 nickel. That was the first year nickels had “In God We Trust” on them. The nickel could have been dropped during Lt. Bonsall’s visit in 1868, the buffalo hunt to entertain the Grand Duke Alexis of Russia in 1872, or the German immigrants traveling through in 1870. Though it wasn’t from the event itself, it may be connected to an event following the battle. We can’t know for sure, but possibly Lt. Bonsall or someone accompanying him dropped it. 

You can read more about Lt. Bonsall’s visit in chapter eight of our book. You can find the accounts of the German immigrants and the buffalo hunt in chapter two of our book.

Sometimes Chuck finds modern items. He found a 1970 quarter near the fishing stringer. Similar to the nickel, there would be no way to know for sure, but it’s certainly possible Chuck dropped it. No one else has spent more time on this part of Sand Creek than him. 

Not only has Chuck spent more time on this part of Sand Creek than anyone else, he’s spent more time studying Sand Creek.

It takes someone skilled with a metal detector and understanding of where to hunt to find anything, especially items that could be connected to the 1864 Sand Creek event. There is a lot of land to hunt, and it is quite difficult to do with a metal detector coil the size of a dinner plate.

It took many years studying Sand Creek and searching for artifacts with a metal detector—Chuck and Sheri found thousands of period artifacts from the Sand Creek event. 

No bullets, no battleground, is something that’s said about historical battle areas. The traditional oral history account about Sand Creek says the Indians were slaughtered as they came out of their tipis, and they didn’t see the soldiers approaching since they were camped below the bluff. However, no period artifacts have been found below that bluff. 

It is an emotional story, but it isn’t substantiated by physical evidence. 

How does physical evidence bring clarity to what happened in 1864 at Sand Creek, and how does it change the traditional story? 

Did you know that Sand Creek was a celebrated battle in Colorado Territory? Read more in chapter twelve of our book. 

If we’re not learning truth, we’re not learning. 

We should be seekers of truth and not allow emotions to cloud our judgment. This event may have taken place nearly 160 years ago, but we shouldn’t dismiss it and not care about the truth. History is being erased in our country—we must hold tight to what is good, right and true. Our book, We Found the Lost Sand Creek Site, goes into great detail concerning the truth about Sand Creek. 

Learn more about us, our book and Sand Creek discovery on this website. 

Check out photos of artifacts here:

There are over 100 photos of photos and maps in our book, We Found the Lost Sand Creek Site

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