Mount Diablo Metal Detecting Club

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Founded in 1979, the Mount Diablo Metal Detecting Club (MDMDC) has never ceased to protect the hobby and encourage good habits and good sportsmanship.


Written into the original purpose of the club were the goals of finding "treasure" in our surroundings, serving our community, and sharing our wonderful hobby with others.


From founding member Gary Collier


I got the idea to start the club as I had run into some early detectorists around Concord in the 1970s and thought it would be great to compare notes on locations to go (or not go) and see what others were finding. 


Also, I had been approached several times in detecting the older locations in Walnut Creek and Concord about finding lost items for people and thought with a club we would have a better chance of locating lost stuff if we had a group of detectorists. 


Several people told me they had detectors but didn't know how to use them (and/or couldn't find anything). I already belonged to the Santa Clara Valley Treasure Hunters Club in San Jose (where I was working for Pacific Telephone at the time) but I was commuting 1 hour every work day from up here and wanted a club a little more local. The Hayward Searchers were still too far for most Contra Costa locals to attend meetings ........ 


So, armed with the by-laws of the Santa Clara club where I was Vice President, I approached both of the local metal detector dealers (Bob Landing in Pleasant Hill and Aaron Pingree in Lafayette) and offered to start a club and hoped they would tell their clientele about it.  They did and we held the first meeting in Bob Landing's front room in January of 1979 with a whopping 4 members. 


I was elected to be all offices ("chief cook and bottle washer") as I had experience with the Santa Clara club and quickly had to find a bigger and better meeting location.  We next met a week later at the Savings and Loan Bank building (now Big and Tall Clothing) next to Mervyns on Contra Costa Blvd. It had a community room with chairs for 20-25 and we promptly increased our
membership to 10.


Our first club newsletters were run off an ancient mimeograph machines with blue ink.  In Feb. '79 we doubled again to 20 members and by March we were reaching "standing room only" capacity for the room.  Our first club outing was in early Feb. '79 when the club met in Todo Santos Park in downtown Concord.  At the time the park was still full of silver and wheat pennies at the 3 to 5 inch levels but the machines of the day were barely able to detect to this depth without some training.


I was surprised that most members did not know their machines. They could turn the knob for on/off but that was it. Manual ground balancing was critical but not many members with a detector knew how to do it.  It wasn't hard to ground balance (or gb) but you had to be shown how to do it. Automatic ground balancing like most machines today was still aways off. Even with everything set right on the detector the 3 to 5 inch coin and ring targets were a whisper that took training to know what you were listening for. 


I conducted a hands on detector lesson and had several popsicle sticks to mark deeper targets that members tested then dug up.We also went over proper digging and target recovery procedures ("don't bring a shovel!") Every month after that first experience we went to a different park or school and repeated the process until everyone could master their detector.  Most members had the older blue box White's 66TR or 63TR or the green 77 Compass's. There was no such thing as i.d. identification let alone target discrimination. Everything but steel "beeped". 


The first Club community service hunt  was up to the Davis area (I think it was in May '79) to look for evidence.  A Sacramento private investigator needed parts of a reproduction flintlock rifle that had blown up on the 2nd firing of the rifle and killed a dentist who had fired it.

His widow needed the part that blew off to prove metal failure/defect in order to sue the Spanish manufacturer. Unfortunately, the location the dentist was firing was the middle of an old farm dump loaded full of metal. We didn't find the part, but it was still an adventure and the club has continued to help the public and police forces over the years. 


In early 1981 the club had outgrown the bank community room and after looking around  I was able to make a contract with the Contra Costa Water District for our present excellent location.  We could now accommodate up to 100 at a meeting and with few exceptions (for room renovations) we have been meeting there ever since.

Of the first 4 members: members #2 and #3 are deceased, member #4 was a petty officer in the Navy stationed at Port Chicago and was transferred out just after the first meeting, and me ----

I'm still standing ----- and detecting. 


Other early club members I still see are Steve Bava, Elizabeth McCarthy, John Kies, Bob Westlund, Morrie Friedman, Jim Kelly, Jim Cornwall, John Russell and James Lind.   


I believe the first Christmas party was in 1985 at the Lyon's Restaurant on North Main in Walnut Creek (now gone).  We then moved it to the Hof Brau Restaurant on Mt. Diablo in Walnut Creek (now gone) in 1987 as it was larger.  In the 1990s we moved the Christmas party again: first to Pumpkin's restaurant in Pittsburg (now gone) and then to Marie Calendar's in Concord (now gone).  For the last 4 years we have been at the Back 40 in Pleasant Hill and it looks like we may stay there for awhile.