Park rangers are warning visitors to Tobyhanna State Park or to the nearby state game lands to call 911 if they see anything metal-looking while walking in the park.
Tobyhanna State Park and the state game lands to the west of the park used to be the site of an artillery range.
It hasn’t been used for that since the end of World War II, but there are still live artillery shells inside the park.
That’s why a special crew of people come back every year to find the shells and then detonate them.
Every spring for the past 15 years the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has come to Tobyhanna State Park with metal detectors in hand.
They are not looking for buried treasure but rather buried artillery shells that never exploded.
“During World War I and through World War II, the Army trained here and this was a former artillery range,” explained Mary Holmes of the U.S. Corps of Engineers.
Since the late 1990s 2,800 unexploded artillery shells have been found and 300,000 pounds of debris from exploded shells recovered.
Some of the shells have been disarmed, however most of the shells found there are destroyed.
“Last year was one of the biggest years of recovering munitions and debris. Last year they pulled out 1,900 UXO (unexploded ordnance)and around 240,000 pounds of munition debris,” Holmes said.
Don’t let the search deter you from visiting the park or from taking a look around.
“It is safe to use the trails. The campgrounds, they’ve all been cleared,” Holmes said.
If you are in Tobyhanna State Park or the nearby state game lands and you happen to recognize an unexploded artillery shell, immediately back away about 300 feet to a safe area, grab your phone and report it to 911.
“Military munitions are designed to destroy property and to kill people,” Holmes said.
If you do come across an explosive or even debris from an explosive it is illegal to take it home with you as a souvenir.
“Plus, they are extremely dangerous so I would not recommend that at all,” Holmes added.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers started searching the Tobyhanna State Park and the nearby state game lands at the beginning of April.
They have been finding about 16 artillery shells or pieces of debris a day.
The will continue to search through November.