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Monday, March 10, 2014

Pin Hunting Challenges

As much as we enjoy Pin Hunting (checking boundary line survey markers) at J. Strom Thurmond COE, it’s not always a walk in the park.

There are over 5 million pins around the Army COE owned properties covering over about 800 miles of boundary lines.  And no, we haven’t found them all (not even close).  These pins much be inspected every five years, so the boundary lines inspected are broken down into sections, divided up among the park rangers to cover, so many miles every year.  That’s where the COE volunteers make a big dent in this requirement.

We’ve gotten pretty good at finding the boundary line pins, but sometimes, they are a real challenge.  We’ve found that having a small hand spade and hand rake are essential in digging the ground around where a pin is located using the metal detector.


Sometimes the nearby homes have filled in or landscaped over the pins and they are buried deeply.  Much digging is required to expose the pin.

The metal detector indicates the pin is here.  After digging and raking, there is the pin.  Can you see it?


How about now?


After hitting the head with a wire brush, the unique serial number is exposed and recorded on our master map.


Then pink ribbon is tied on the pin to aid in locating it in the future.  That really helps.


It’s not always that easy.  Some of the boundary lines and pins are deep in the woods.


Other times, when we find the pin, the head is so corroded that the serial number is not visible.


We ran into a wrongly marked pin today, we noted the discrepancy on our master map.


Some homes are built near the boundary lines, and construction debris makes it almost impossible to find the pins.  The metal detector cannot differentiate pins from nails.


Then there are homes that have built over the pins and nailed the marker pole to the side of the house.  The rangers will have to deal with this one.


We were defeated by some landscape plantings around a pin marker.  The pin is buried deep under thick bushes.


But we’ll not remain defeated.  Tomorrow we’re returning to find this pin…with a machete!  Just another challenge to overcome.  :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.



  1. I like a good challenge, sounds like fun!

  2. Isn't anytime your walking at Strom Thurman COE a walk in the park?

  3. Sounds like you're up to the task! A machete? Seriously? Wow, you guys don't fool around.

  4. You have done a very great job. It is not that much easy to find the pins in woods. Good job!!

  5. So, what will they do with the marker that was nailed to the house. It looks like the house shouldn't be built there, but what will they do at this point?

  6. I had to clean my glasses but I finally saw the pin too. Or, did I see it because you zoomed in with your camera. It's nice that you take your job seriously.

  7. I really think I need to sign Bill up for that job...the Ultimate Geocaching:o)) Just stay safe out there...a MACHETE sounds a bit dangerous!!!

  8. Finding the pin, a hard task, reading the serial number, even harder! Do you bring a magnifying glass with you? :)

  9. It sure can be a full time job that would never end. Sounds like you do enjoy it.

  10. So now I guess you two could be called pin heads?? :)

  11. What was the guy thinking who nailed the marker to his home? Some people are just plain looney!

  12. That really seems to be a neat job! Volunteering = exercise! A win-win situation.

  13. LOL at Judy's comment! Pin heads! Too funny. But 5M pins. Really? Good grief how can they possibly check that many even over 5 years? Are you sure they are going to let you leave before you've found them all??

  14. I think you need to go pick up those grandsons of yours and take them along :) I predict they would find them in record time!

  15. So are you going for the Pin Finding World Record!!!