Interesting Backyard Finds People Have Made Accidentally
Backyards are normally reserved for a cold one and unmeasurable dad jokes - but for some people, their backyard is a bit different. Different kinds of things are found in the backyard, from animals to cars...and some even helped the finders strike a fortune. Finder keepers right? Well, sometimes it is true. Here we will show you what people have found in their backyards over the years - some of them are...very unexpected.
A Villa? Well, a special villa.
Finding a villa in your backyard is strange enough - but what about an ancient Roman villa? And no, this is not another Indiana Jones sequel. In 2016, Luke Irwin, a resident from Wiltshire, England, uncovered a mosaic underground while laying electric cables in his barn. Within 24 hours, government personnel arrived, alongside a team of archaeologists.
The structure he discovered turned out to be an ancient Roman villa, circa AD 175-220. Relics including “high-status potteries” were unearthed, suggesting that the villa might belong to a family of high importance. The villa was so well-preserved, it was hailed as the most significant discovery of its kind for the decade. If you think about it, his house is actually on top of another person’s house. Romanes eunt domus…?
Cold War Shelter
Another underground structure - this time more recent. If you have played any games from the Fallout series before, you might be familiar with the concept - yes, we are talking about a bunker this time. In 2015, a man from Arizona discovered a nuclear bunker underneath his lawn - according to the information he received, the bunker appears to be built in 1961, by a company called Whitaker Pools.
A bit of history here - the Cold War tension was at its height in the early 1960s, especially the period before the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Both the United States and the Soviet Union have missile bases built, capable of launching intercontinental ballistic missiles across the globe - that also explains why this one was built in Arizona, as it was once the home of 18 intercontinental ballistic missiles armed with nuclear warheads. We are glad there wasn’t a need to put the bunker to use.
An Underground Lair
This time we head westward, to neighboring California. In Portersville, California, a couple had an unexpected surprise while cleaning up their backyard - an underground lair. In 2009, James and Tessa Lindley started clearing out their backyard, when they stumbled across an abandoned, underground structure. The structure was very well built - fitted with electricity and a ventilation system with fans, and even running water.
Despite all these, James and Tessa don't seem too pleased with the discovery - they had to check with their homeowner’s insurance carrier to see if they’ll cover the clean-up costs. “We have to tear up the whole yard to see how far it goes,” Tessa said. Well, sometimes a discovery might not be that pleasant after all.
Car in your backyard?
This one is more peculiar - it is weird to see a car in your backyard already, well assuming you don't park your car in the backyard. And a car underneath your backyard? That’s exactly what happened in 1978. It wasn’t any other car either - it was a green 264 Dino Ferrari from 1974, a car worth at least $18,000 new in 70’s money. In February 1978, few youngsters were digging in the backyard when they started hitting the roof of a car.
Police detectives then arrived at the scene, and with a few shovels and helpers, they unearthed the Ferrari. The car was reported stolen in 1974, and the owner was reimbursed by the insurance company. No one knows how the car was buried without people noticing, “It’s not like planting cabbages,” police sergeant Sabas jokes. Honestly, the burying of the car is a bigger mystery than finding it.
Egyptian Indiana Jones?
On the other side of the world, a more significant discovery was made - this time a secret passage to a pyramid. In 2015, a man from the village in Al-Harraniya, in Giza, Egypt, discovered a secret passage to the Khufu pyramid...by accident. The Khufu pyramid, nicknamed the Great Pyramid, is the oldest and largest of the three Giza Pyramids. While digging illegally in his backyard, the village local stumbled across a tunnel.
But unlike any other tunnel, it turns out to be a secret tunnel leading to the Khufu pyramid. Archaeologists have been searching for the passage to the pyramid for decades, to no avail. It’s funny how important discoveries are sometimes made unintentionally.
Hippo New Year!
Further down south, on the African continent, another discovery was made, but this time it is both scary and funny. We have heard stories of people finding unwanted visitors in their backyard - a bear, a cat, an alligator… but what about a three-ton hippo? This is exactly what happened in Botswana, on New Year’s Eve 2020.
Apparently, a hippo decided to celebrate New Year by having a good time in a swimming pool, and it somehow sneaked into the house and bathed itself on the 30th of December, 2019. A night watchman then discovered the hippo by surprise, and luckily, no one was injured - as hippos are known to be the most dangerous animal in Africa. Why a swimming pool though? As it turned out, due to the drought in the area, the nearby river had dried up - and the swimming seems like a reasonable place for a hippo to go. Climate change, everyone.
Puppy from the Sky
And again, we are going to travel to a new destination, this time we are going to Australia, home of the kangaroos and koalas...and Australians. Unlike a big animal like hippos, this time our protagonist is cuter...and fluffier. In November 2019, a woman discovered a small puppy in the backyard, at her home in Victoria.
Due to the marks on the puppy’s back, it was believed that an Eagle dropped it to the backyard. At first, the woman could not determine whether it is a dog or fox - DNA tests later found out that it is actually an Alpine dingo, the only dingo subspecies in Australia that's at risk of extinction. Australia really is a land of wonder...
Alligator...no, not Florida
Normally when we talk about alligators, we instantly make a connection to Florida...for various reasons. But this time it actually happened in Texas. In 2018, San Benito man woke up to his dog barking all night long, something usual from her. When he checked on the situation… surprise surprise, an alligator in his backyard.
It was also a relatively large alligator, at 10 feet long. The man called Texas Parks and Wildlife to report the sighting, and the first game warden showed up, who was amazed by the size, thus requesting backup from more game wardens. And luckily, no one was injured in the end. They said everything is bigger in Texas, but I did not realize it could be applied to alligators as well.
A Rusty Treasure Trove
A more traditional story of finding treasure in the backyard...with a twist. For years, New York residents Matthew and Maria Colonna-Emanuel never paid attention to the rusty metal sticking out from the tree, believing that to be an old cable or electrical box anyway. However, after some time they noticed that it is actually an old safe, and upon opening it, they discovered hundreds of dollars, plus numerous jewelry. Finders keepers right?
But they noticed something strange as they discovered a note inside - with an address, one of their neighbors. They then reached out to their neighbor - and found out that she reported a burglary in 2011, thinking that she will never see her stolen belongings again. Matthew and Maria then returned the stolen valuables to their rightful owner - a happy ending for everyone.
Striking a Pot of Gold...Literally
Now, on the other side of the country, in sunny California, another couple also struck upon some decent fortune...very decent ones. California was known for the Gold Rush that took place in the 19th century - throughout which approximately 300,000 people came to California, trying to strike a fortune.
And in 2013, a couple struck their fortune in California in a similar fashion… more than a century after the Gold Rush. They discovered a stash of gold coins in their backyard, dated from 1847-1894, with an estimated worth of $10m! It was believed to be the largest haul of buried treasure in US history. This was later known as the Saddle Ridge Hoard. I don't know why fortune smiles on some and lets the rest go free...
The Austrian Discovery
Some discoveries are worth a lot of money...but some are worth more than money. In Austria, a named identified as Andreas K discovered some ornaments while digging a pond in his backyard. He did not pay much attention to it at first, as the findings were all covered in dirt. Fast forward a few years, when he was packing up, he came across a basement box, at which point the fallen dirt revealed metal and jewels underneath.
After posting the photos of his discovery on the internet, he was suggested to bring them to the memorials office - it was then that he knew he found something big. They are precious jewelry about 650 years old, and the memorials office claims the finding to be "one of the qualitatively most significant discoveries of medieval treasure in Austria." A fairy tale indeed.
Silver Lining in the Backyard
Different kinds of metal are found in backyards - you might find some gold if you are lucky, or copper if you are not so lucky. What about silver? Well, I would say you belong to the former group. And this is what happened to couple Brytten and James Sievers - while working on a house renovation project, Brytten believed he struck something while digging in with a shovel - at first he was afraid it was a cracked pipe.
And to his surprise, it’s a time capsule, with 1982 stamped on it, inside newspaper wrapping from 1982 can be found as well. What’s more, after unfolding the newspaper, they found 100-ounce bars of .999 pure Johnson-Matthey silver, valued to be around $2600. But the story didn’t end here - after some detective work, they located the owner of the house in 1982. In the end, Brytten decided to split the finding with the owner. Happy ending for everyone.
A Mammoth Tooth
So far in this list, all the findings are done by humans. But sometimes, our loyal companions can unearth some treasure as well. In Langley, Washington, when Kirk’s loyal companion Scout started digging in the backyard, he unearthed something that appears to be a rock.
Kirk didn’t pay attention at first. However, the next day Scout was carrying it around again. Then he decided to call the experts at the University of Washington, which then confirmed that what appeared to be a rock, was actually part of a wooly mammoth tooth. Now, who’s a good boy?
A Special Coin
We often find coins lying around in our backyard. Normally they are just normal coins, maybe enough to get you some ice cream if you are lucky. But treasure hunter Robb Meloche found something a bit different this time around. Encouraged by his 11-year-old daughter Destinee, he found a coin on the north side of their house, when he was about to give up.
It was a coin dated 1934 with the inscription, “10th Anniversary of the Chrysler Car – 1924” on one side and “A Century of Progress in a Decade – Airflow Chrysler – 1934” on the other side. After some research, it was believed that this coin was given to people who purchased the Chrysler Airflow in the mid-1930s. Maybe listen to your kid sometimes?
Fallout Shelter...Another One
Can you imagine walking back into a room and going back to the 1960s? Yes, you can - with a catch. The Zwick family from Wisconsin was aware of the old nuclear bunker that comes with the property when they purchased it.
What they did not know was that it was actually fully operational - and comes along with all the necessities to survive a nuclear blast, straight from the 1960s. In the 50s, at the height of the cold war, citizens were encouraged to build their bunkers should the Soviets attack - and we are glad it never happened.
A Farewell To Arms
Where have all the graveyards gone? Gone to flowers, everyone. The continuous tragedy of war is immortalized in Pete Seeger’s song. In Lakewood, someone made a surprising discovery among the rubbles in the backyard - a gravestone, that has not turned to flowers apparently.
What’s more, on the headstone, it was engraved “Charles J. Starry, Ohio, Wagoner, 323rd Machine Gun Battalion, World War I, October 8, 1895, February 27, 1958." Since the war was not fought in the mainland US, it is a curious sight that a gravestone for a WWI Veteran appears in the backyard. There’re a few speculations to this - one saying that maybe it was discarded here or fill was brought in to build up the grade.
Maybe I should also consider digging in my backyard - though I suppose I can only find old candy wraps or maybe a pizza box or two. Have you tried looking at your backyard? Did you find anything interesting there? If you enjoyed reading this, why not share it with your friends who are into treasure hunting?
Source: Independent, CNN, Daily Mail, BBC, CBS News, Los Angeles Times, Magic Valley, Ahram, 7news, Fox News, The Porterville Recorder, The Brownsville Herald, Windsor Star, Aqua Magazine, Tuscon.com, Live Science, CBC, Saddle Ridge Hoard