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Owner of Buried Treasure Antiques Tohmas Carr looks over one of his most valuable glass bottles, a whisky flask from the Monarch Bar in El Reno.

“The Great Dr. Kilmer's Swamproot Kidney, Liver, and Bladder Cure” is Richard Carr's favorite medicine bottle.

More than 100 years ago, someone drank the last of it and pitched the bottle in an outhouse. In recent years, Carr dug it up, washed it and put the embossed bottle up for sale in his antique store, Buried Treasure Antiques, 111 S. Lee St.

He has been in the bottle digging business for 35 years, and still finds enjoyment in mucking around in old “two-holers.”

Many people may wonder just how disgusting this hobby is; Carr says it's really not.

“There's only two ways you know you've found an outhouse,” he said. “One, you find layers of lime, and two, you find thousands of tomato and strawberry seeds.”

He's never known of anyone getting sick or finding anything still polluted in a dig.

Carr digs everywhere from Muskogee to Kansas and Missouri. He finds the northern states particularly interesting because of the civil war era outhouses that are available.

Sometimes he and his friends dig 14-foot-deep holes and pull out 1,000 bottles in one dig.

Usually, though, they only need to dig six or eight feet to get to the good stuff.

His most valuable bottle is a whiskey flask embossed with “Monarch Bar” and “El Reno OT.”

Carr didn't dig up this particular bottle himself, but says he got the $1,000-dollar bottle anyway.

Antique bottles aren't the only items of interest he's found.

He's seen old wooden bowling balls, false teeth, doll parts, clay marbles and more.

He found a cast-iron pull toy, a steamboat, dated from the 1870s to 1880s at one location.

Maybe a child accidentally dropped it down the hole, or an older sibling did it for him, Carr said.

That's what makes this hobby so interesting — trying to imagine why certain objects found their way into the outhouse hole or what kind of people must have lived there, he said.

Carr and his friends use Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps to locate old outhouses. According to the Oklahoma Historical Society Web site, Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps were created to indicate the fire risk associated with a specific structure. These color coded maps show the size of the building, as well as the building materials used. An archived collection with the Oklahoma Historical Society includes more than 3,000 maps for more than 400 Oklahoma communities in the 1920s and 1930s.

After locating old outhouses, Carr and his friends approach the owner for permission to dig.

They carefully lay the dirt and sod on tarps so they can replace the soil and try to return the area to the original condition.

“We respect peoples' property,” he said. “We'll even go back later and fill it in again if we need to.”

Carr is interested in digging in the Fort Gibson area. He has one bottle from the Opera House Drugstore.

According to him, it is extremely rare and the only known embossed drugstore bottle from Fort Gibson.

He would like to find more.

“I'd love to get people involved in the community,” he said. “We always share what we find with the owners, and I'd like to see some bottles given to the museum.”

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