Digging up the past: Buxton man roams coast to coast searching old outhouses in pursuit of antique bottles

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Posted: Friday, August 23, 2019 6:00 am

Tom Askjem owns a treasure trove of antique bottles from North Dakota’s earliest days.

The 28-year-old Buxton man has traveled from California to Maine to the Gulf of Mexico searching for discarded glass containers buried in the earth.

The forgotten relics aren’t easy to find, but Askjem isn’t afraid to roll up his sleeves.

He’s also doesn’t mind spending his day chest deep in a century-old outhouse.

Askjem, a 2009 Central Valley School graduate, has sifted through more than 1,000 outhouse pits across the country the past 15 years.

In that span, he’s unearthed antique glass bottles, old lanterns, porcelain figures and other lost and forgotten items – and one dead dog in Caledonia, N.D.

“I’m somewhat of a historian,” says Askjem, taking a break from his latest dig Tuesday behind the A&R Bar along Main Street in Hillsboro.

“The digging I do, it’s become a lifestyle at this point.”

For more, see the Banner's online or print edition.

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