Lyford House

A Winchester bullet shell found on the beach property near the Lyford House.

Just north of San Francisco, the Richardson Bay Audubon Center & Sanctuary overlooks 900 acres of open water that is closed from October 1 to March 31 each year to serve as a sanctuary for migrating waterbirds. This beautiful property is maintained by the Center with trails and gardens that are open year round, summer camps, a youth conservation leadership program, and numerous volunteer opportunities.

As a metal detectorist, I’m interested in the history of the property which includes the Lyford House – a home originally located at Strawberry Point, moved by barge in December 1957 when threatened with demolition. Once owned by Benjamin Lyford (1841-1906) and Hilarita née Reed (1839-1908), it is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

After speaking with the Center Director and obtaining permission to metal detect on Lani’s Beach lining the property, I am now cataloging my finds and learning more about the history of the property and its owners.

Beach metal detecting finds including a spoon, shoe buckle, and metal scraps

A group of finds from Lani’s Beach on the Audubon Center Property

Because this is not a tourist beach in the traditional sense, the items found on this property are more likely to be relics of another time or items washed up from Richardson Bay. Some items discovered so far include Winchester bullet shells dating from 1901-1920, what appears to be a shoe buckle, mystery pieces of metal, vintage lead fishing weights, pieces of a small statue, and more. I’m excited to see what turns up after I spend more time on the beach.

Close up view of a Winchester brand

Close up view of a Winchester brand “Repeater 1901” No. 12 shotshell headstamp. Manufactured between 1901 and 1920.

It would be no surprise that in the early 1900s this would be a good spot for hunting. So far I’ve found four of these shells on one small area of the beach along with some other smaller caliber shells as well.

Detail view of what may be a metal shoe buckle

Detail view of what may be a metal shoe buckle

Small bronze loop

Photo after finding a small bronze loop.

I encourage locals to volunteer at the Richardson Bay location, or plan a visit! Let them know that GeekyBeach sent you.