Baird to Discuss Rare Copper Artifact at Museum

NCC8 Presentation Coincides with Museum's Holiday Shopping Spree


Chris Andy adjusted his earphones and swung his metal detector left, then right, in a measured, cautious gesture. The sound, more clear this time, was distinct. The detector’s digital readout read copper, and he wondered if he would find another coin. Cautious to dig only a small divot from the turf, he heard the distinct sound of metal against metal. It was larger than he thought. Not a coin. Not a nail. Seconds later, he held the green, rectangular object in his hands, the first time in more than 5,000 years the copper ax had been in the sunlight.

This was not a historic find - not a lost penny or a piece of chunk of garbage discarded in the past 100 years or so. This was an ancient Indian artifact, one that had made its way through various hands along the prehistoric trade routes, from the pure copper mines of what is now called Michigan, to a lonely corn field along Muncy Creek in Pennsylvania.

But Andy wouldn’t confirm all of this for several years - not until he saw an article in the local newspaper about an upcoming Indian Artifact Show. He was scheduled to work that Saturday, and couldn’t attend, so he contacted the show’s organizers and handed it over.


Man on a Mission
Tom "Tank" Baird, a local avocation archaeologist and historian with Northcentral Chapter 8, Society for Pennsylvania, made it his mission to learn as much as he could about the oxidized, irregular chunk of metal that had somehow ended up more than a thousand miles, and thousands of years, from the copper nugget outcrop that yielded it.

Baird estimates the artifact is possibly 5,000-years-old, a copper ax that is one among several copper items found in Lycoming County. He'll discuss the artifact, and the copper culture and trade routes of Native Americans in Pennsylvania, at an upcoming talk at the Lycoming County Historical Society. Slated for 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9, the presentation coincides with the Taber Museum's Holiday Shop, which is open from 1 to 4 p.m.