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CHICAGO — Metal detecting has become a popular hobby in Chicago – especially when people were looking for solitary outdoor activities during the worst of the pandemic.   

Metal detector makers across the country are reporting record sales.   

Mike McCawley and Adam Rosa metal detecting in West Lakeview’s Gross Park

But Adam Rosa, an urban planner in Chicago, isn’t your typical weekend hobbyist simply combing beaches for lost jewelry. 

“I think treasure, it’s not always like a chest full of gold coins,” Rosa said. “It really can be something connected to somebody or the history of a place.” 

He’s seeking a connection with the past. He’s discovered a Victorian mirror, a vintage toy gun, and several old coins, but this modern-day treasure hunter said he used his metal detector to search Chicago parks – and ended up finding something more valuable than gold.   

Treasure hunter Adam Rosa found this Victorian era hand mirror while metal detecting in North Carolina.

“The city’s soul is in the soil,” he said. 

WGN’s Mike Lowe and photojournalist Kevin Doellman