Cars have become so ingrained into even the lowest depths of society, since the introduction of Henry Ford’s mass-produced automobile, they have become a staple of our everyday living. Vehicle ownership is more common today than horse ownership ever was to even the poorest members of any halfway-organized society. Maybe that’s why people throw them away so indiscriminately when they’re done using them? But is that really the reason?
It’s a strange phenomenon, to say the least. Every forgotten steel carcass tells a unique story. The location is very telling; it’s easy to speculate the chain of events that brought an old International farm truck to its knees – forever resting in a barren field, adjacent to a desolate stretch of mid-western interstate.
But how do you begin to explain an entire fleet of electric, intercity transit busses abandoned in a ghost town that never accommodated a population north of 5,000, even in its heyday? The mystery is compounded by the lack of an overhead electrical grid (which the town never had), rendering the busses permanently inoperable.
Sometimes abandonment is unintentional. The half-million Woodstock goers, in 1969, piled roadways with more muscle cars than you could count in a month – anywhere they could find parking. After a three-day, heavy-duty, psychedelic jam session (copiously substituting sleep for experiences), more than a handful of participants were never to see their cars again.
Whatever the circumstance, and however long the duration, there’s something fascinating about abandoned cars and trucks that we can’t seem to shake.
23 Mixer Misery
There is no truck chassis anywhere in sight, and upon closer inspection, you find that this lonely cement mixer barrel has NASA markings and serial numbers scrawled onto the exterior (a product of local humor).
It’s painstakingly obvious that the only place this mixer was ever launched from was the cradle of its mounts when the truck chassis it rode was overturned in an accident circa 1950. Being too expensive to properly “recover,” the mixer sat off to the side for decades, serving as little more than a landmark for surface traffic.
22 Have A Seat, SIR!
The more rural the route, the more susceptible it becomes to the unsolicited accumulation of “junk,” in all of the various forms it may take. The magic component that turns these rural routes into junk magnets is always their proximity to populous settlements.
Large cities generate a lot of waste, and when potential car dumpers can’t get away with leaving their junk in someone else’s alley, a popular spot has historically been along the isolated inroads to the city; they offer little repercussion in the flagrant abandonment of your unwanted trash, unless they catch you in the act.
21 Woodstock Wide Body
This culture moved with the momentum of a freight train. The ‘60s were a time of much controversy, strife, struggle, and imbalance. It was also a pivotal point in history; many new doorways were opening, as the last of others were closing – for good.
Here, a couple of friends patronize the deck lid of their buddy’s trunk, preparing for the music festival with some jams of their own to pass the time. This girl’s going to get more than her money’s worth by the time they make it to the gate.
20 80 Days After Sandy
We all remember Sandy as more than a vague recollection, especially if you lived on the eastern seaboard. Sandy hit with the force of, well…a hurricane, for lack of a more fitting analogy. She slammed homes, business, city infrastructure and everything else in her path.
Caught in the crossfire, storm-damaged cars (numerous enough to fill the largest car-carrying ship in the world, to capacity, almost 30 times over) were left immobilized after Sandy fizzled away. 230,000 “losses” were relocated to Calverton Executive Airpark in Calverton, New York, on January 9, 2013, packed along taxiways and piled up on the runway.
19 Lonely Land Cruiser
New York City used to be a breeding ground for forsaken sheet metal. There was once a time when you couldn’t walk through certain streets without the eye eyesore of unibody carcasses (door-less, windowless carcasses), left to impede traffic and broadcast a territory marker as a graffiti canvas.
Today New York has filled in the empty spaces – nearly all of them. But at one time, car abandonment was so prolific, 79,000 abandoned cars were hauled off in the late-‘70s, only to be followed by another 148,000-car cleanup a decade later. (The cleanup effort averaged 400 cars processed per day.)
18 Sandon Bus Graveyard
Sometimes your problems are bigger than any one car or truck. Sometimes those problems sit on heavy bus chassis – or 13 of them, to be precise. The Sandon Ghost town, located between New Denver and Kaslo, B.C. (100 miles north of Spokane, WA.) is now home to more heavy transit hardware than the small town has ever needed. So what are 13 decrepit busses doing along a lonely road in a ghost town that never needed them?
Sandon was once a bustling transit hub in Canada until a severe flood would initiate its eventual abandonment in 1955.
17 Last Stop – Ever
Sandon itself has a rich history, but who cares about that right now? We’re still trying to figure out how these enormous busses got here. They’re technically not even busses, but rather – trackless trolleys! It’s essentially a city bus with electric motors in place of the reciprocating engines. They were powered by the induction of an electrical current through retractable masts.
The only problem is Sandon doesn’t have a power grid to operate the “trollies.” (And it never did.) Yet, 13 massive busses sit in eternal silence; some with stingers erect, awaiting a shock of life that will never come.
16 Willy-Nilly Park Job – Because Whatever
A man by the name of Hal Wright is the town’s caretaker as well as that of the “abandoned” busses. They are actually not abounded at all, but rather, in a state of purgatory, if you will. The busses came from a fleet of hundreds that once patrolled bus routes of Vancouver for over 40 years.
Most of them were taken out of service in the ‘80s, where they were to find shelter in a wrecking yard for decades, undisturbed. When the Richmond wrecking yard they sat in was sold, hundreds of them were condemned to be shredded and scrapped.
15 Sentry Duty – The Watchful Eye
And that’s when the story gets cute. When a group of “bus enthusiasts” (because apparently, that’s a hobby now) became privy to the pending destruction of their treasured transportation relics, they banned together and “saved the busses” from the prying dykes and grinders of “scrappers,” whom they feared would pillage the trollies for all the copper they were worth.
But rather than preserve them for the recollection of a bygone era, Hal has an even wackier idea for the vintage hardware. (And he’s still waiting for it to happen…)
14 Better In Black And White
In his very own words, he outlines his master plan:
“Every one of them could be refurbished [and put back into service]; it conforms [to] all of the ideas of refuse and sustainability,” he asserts.
His heedless devotion to a green planet doesn’t even seem to factor in the infeasibility of properly retrofitting these machines for contemporary transit use (and the mountain of impossibility that would entail). There’s a good reason certain folks tend to stick to “liberal” arts – and stray away from business majors – bad ideas don’t stay in business.
13 Sandon Fire Hall No. 1
Not every vehicle in Sandon is a vintage bus (that nobody wants to restore) – there’s also a few four-wheeled treasures lying around. One of them is sitting in front of the fire station, just waiting for someone to come along and “liberate” it for the greater good.
But as tempting as it would be to stinger-lift some of these things on outta here faster than Batman strikes (in the middle of the night), all of the equipment located in Sandon falls under Hal’s explicit care. (We don’t feel he would appreciate us liberating his things.)
12 El Paso Long Grass
Not everything left behind has a fan club. As obscure as the electric, “trackless” trollies were, they implored enough fanfare to save them from the jaws of a crusher. When 15 tons of steel doesn’t mean that much to you, you do what any self-respecting patriot does – you dump it somewhere convenient for you, and never think about it again.
This GMC tractor sits quietly in a field next to a generator housing, a pile of spare tires, and what’s left of its cab – which has been removed from the frame a long time ago.
11 Hopper Dump
You can find this International chassis (with the most bizarre hopper you’ve ever seen) sitting patiently off to the side of the road, far enough not to be a bother – but not far enough to grant it impunity from a restless youth who delights themselves in watching it succumb to the slow attrition of time.
The truck is almost so vintage, you wonder why nobody has come to scoop it up and take it as their own. (It’s probably the unsightly hopper, scaring potential adopters away.)
10 Washington Ruster
Located just far enough out of the mainstream way so as not to raise any “enforcing” eyebrows, this tractor sits comfortably close to a Snohomish, WA. public road, 20 miles from Seattle.
If it were in the middle of the mid-west, we could assume it’ll be there for the foreseeable-ever. However, this truck is parked so close to the city that it’s only a matter of time before the walls come tumbling down. Something like this is bound to start collecting tickets sooner or later – if they can find the license plates!
9 Double Trouble
When you got 99 problems – and rigs is two; I feel bad for you son – here’s what to do. Park truck, out of way. Walk away from out-of-way truck. Forget about out-of-way truck. What truck were we talking about again?
As complicated as some people would propose to make equipment decommissioning sound on paper, all you have to do is essentially stick it somewhere, and not let anybody see you walk away from it (if it’s on someone else’s property). We don’t necessarily “condone” this behavior – unless it’s vintage!
8 White Mustang
Here’s a different type of Mustang on the open range, a White Mustang. This one sits in its final resting place as autonomously as a bolder. The cancerous surface rust penetrates every joint and pivot moisture can access – which is everything.
The confident posture of the White assumes an erroneously clean bill of health as it slowly erodes into dust, but the rusty masquerade doesn’t fool anyone – you can’t even open the doors. Where the factory bumper went is anybody’s guess, but this guardrail seems to have done the job adequately for decades.
7 Jardi’s Last Caress
This tiny lawnmower repair shop sits in along the main highway in the secluded mountains in Canada. But when that folded everything seemed to pause. The eyesore is just far enough removed from local municipality parking enforcers that the cars don’t get cited, despite their illicit storage configuration.
Today they sit, in plain sight from passing traffic; unbothered by the travelers as they make their way and through the pass. You can’t get a tune-up here anymore, but you could park your car for about 20 years and not worry about parking tickets.
6 Out Of Sight, Out Of...Hind?
Sometimes, although it’s rare, people get so sick of lugging junk around, that not even the unparalleled utility of a Mi-8 transport helicopter is compensating enough to save it from condemnation. This here is a rare case of such abandonment that, to this day, remains heavily shrouded in mystery and speculation.
The first curious detail you’ll notice is, even if the rotors were intact, the clearing is hardly wide enough to accommodate its landing; the 70’ main rotor diameter would have hit every tree on the way down. However it got here, this is where it will remain.
5 The Long Walk
Woodstock ’69; those five syllables embody so much more than just a historic gathering of the sixties. They represent a culture – a peaceful celebration of music (and all kinds of other sinful delights for your unregulated ambitions to indiscriminately indulge themselves with).
In order to live those five syllables to their fullest, however, you had to get there. Unless you were a squatter (days in advance), chances were you were going to spend hours braving the masses of people, trying to find a place to park your shag wagon. Double-triple-quadruple parking became “a thing,” on this day in history.
4 V-Dub Delight
The venue was to attract an unholy gathering of people to the northwest proximity of New York City – Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in the Catskill Mountains was to harbor the legendary lineup where many performers would become “known.”
The logistical impact that the massive influx of automobiles had on such a condensed geographic location was strenuous, to say the least. There was plenty of space, sure – but that didn’t mean you were getting a good spot. Woodstock ’69 attracted up to an estimated half-million people – on the high side (no pun intended).
3 The Lineup
With a turnout of over 400,000 spectators, Woodstock ’69 gained itself a notarized spot in history as one of the most crowded concert venues in history. Sure, it was a far cry from Rod Stewart’s 3.5 million-person turnout at Copacabana Beach in 1994; or Metallica’s 1.6 million-figure in Moscow, 1991.
Headliners here are a bit smaller, but span a wide breadth of genres nonetheless; Grateful Dead, Santana, The Who, Joplin, and of course, Hendrix; they were all there. With headliners like that, you’d better be ready to double park in a fire zone – or wait in the car the whole time.
2 The Long Walk
Here, we can see the faces of the people from the front as they inch through their long, slow journey to musical liberation. They’ve already been battling the crowd for hours, and the struggle is taking its toll. (We challenge you to find one smiling face in this entire crowd!)
With no good way to accommodate so many cars, many of them were just left willy-nilly in the safest corner that could be found. That’s not even the worst part – they still have to do this again in three days to get back out!
1 Woodstock In Color
We had to include this picture for its relevance as it pertains to car culture. It’s hard to appreciate it in black and white, but this color image drives the feeling of the moment much deeper.
In color, you’ll notice just how fresh all that Detroit hardware really was back in ‘69. Amidst the ocean of Volkswagens and Corvairs, you see the epitome of big muscle in its heyday! Camaros, Challengers, Chargers, Cougars, Novas, Falcons, Impalas, Mustangs…the concentration of vintage muscle effectively turned the “long walk” into the biggest classic car show of your entire life.
Sources: Economic Times, History Channel, Spin, Woodstock, The Drive, Urban Ghost Media.