Allied Services in Orange is definitely not the kind of store you would find next to the antiques and collectibles shops on the Orange Circle. It caters to a different kind of treasure hunter.
Allied sells prospecting and mining equipment such as dredges, sluice boxes, headlamps, pans, picks--everything but a trusty pack burro. It also stocks metal detectors and maps charting nearly every square inch of the United States. It's off the beaten path in an industrial part of town. But then its clientele has a penchant for exploring out-of-the-way places such as old ghost towns, mining camps and caves.
Allied Services has the largest inventory of U.S. Geological Survey topographical maps in the country. "Chances are if we don't have it, the government agency that supplies them is out of stock, too," said Larry Winkelman, who has owned the store for more than 20 years. "I started out selling the basics, like gold mining pans. Then I added the maps. We have over a quarter of a million of them here." Complementing the "topos" is a detailed collection of maps of the Middle East, Latin America and Asia.
Winkelman also has an extensive book selection that will help the amateur and experienced treasure hunter find gold, old bottles, vintage coins, fossils--just about anything hidden underground or underwater. It covers all the basics on how to plot an expedition to parts unknown. Titles range from "Ghost Trails to California" to "How to Practice Dowsing in Your Backyard." Allied even sells back issues of Desert Magazine and California Mining Journal.
The person browsing next to you could be a geologist, an engineer, an archeologist or someone plotting an exploration of an old shipwreck. The inventory, especially the maps and books, is useful to beachcombers, off-road-vehicle enthusiasts, hunters and boaters. And just like in the old gold mining days, customers return to exchange tall tales of their latest finds.