Scenic Byways - A Photo Gallery of Abandoned Cars
Abandoned Car in the Black Hills of South Dakota
Abandoned Cars - Hidden Junk Art Along Scenic Byways
As we travel across the country and explore scenic byways off the beaten track, we often come upon surprising pieces of Americana. Rich with history, the Black Hills of South Dakota was once home to the largest gold mine in the U.S.. The Homestead mine, located in Lead, South Dakota, was in operation from 1876 until 2002. It is common to see abandoned gold and silver mines in Black Hills around Lead and Deadwood, though now their main attractions are as tourist towns. It was there, in the Black Hills near Deadwood, that I found some interesting photogenic jewels hidden in the bushes and brush along the less traveled roads – and they had nothing to do with the gold rush!
Abandoned Cars Keep Their Secrets Well
Abandoned cars and trucks dot the scenic byways of South Dakota, rusting into oblivion and overtaken by weeds and brush. The age and condition of these vehicles has mellowed them into sculptures of metal and rust, framed by wildflowers and weeds.
These old cars, many of them no longer identifiable, keep their secrets well, and their stories are lost forever. These abandoned cars were once shinny and new, polished and proud as they traveled these rugged hills. Perhaps they carried Ma to the grocery store, or Pa to the saloon. Maybe the family, dressed in their best clothes, went together to the church social or to a wedding or funeral. Maybe Pa and the boys drove to the Homestead Mine in Lead where they worked to support their families. I wondered, as I saw these rusty old cars…
Abandoned Car in the Black Hills - Who Shot Out the Windows?
Abandoned Cars - Were They in a Wild Car Chase?
Sometimes windshields were smashed as if someone had crashed the car. Other times there were bullet holes in the doors and windows. I fantasized about Bonnie and Clyde and a wild car chase through the Black Hills, with police hot on their tails. What were those red stains on the seats? Maybe a bank robber left his broken vehicle and got away on foot to hide in the black forests of the hills, never to be seen again…
Rusty Old Plymouth near Lead, South Dakota
Or Did Fortune Seekers Abandon Their Cars and Continue on Foot?
Perhaps these cars were once owned by down-and-outers during the Great Depression who were on their way to seek their fortunes elsewhere. When the car broke down, there was no money for repairs, so it was pushed to the side of the road and abandoned. Maybe, in despair, they gave up and stayed right there, or maybe, determined, they walked on to the Promised Land of California …
Abandoned car hidden in the brush off a scenic byway in the Black Hills
Abandoned Car on Arizona's Old Route 66
There are many pieces of history along Old Route 66, and the road itself has become a destination for some cross country travelers. Here, near the Petrified Forest National Park, we came across a rusty old car abandoned near a railroad tracks on a piece of what was once Route 66. There are stories of hoards of sightseers coming to the area by car and by train to collect the beautiful petrified rock before the area was off-limits to collectors. Did this car belong to one of them?
Abandoned Car along Old Route 66 in Arizona- The End of the Road?
Abandoned Trucks in Swansea Ghost Town, Arizona
The town of Swansea was founded in 1909 in La Paz county in what was then the Arizona Territory. Swansea was a company town owned by the Clara Gold and Copper Mining Company, and was built around the copper mining and processing industry.
The prosperity of the town was short lived, though, and by 1937 the town was closed down and became a ghost town. Now owned by the Bureau of Land management, Swansea is 25 miles away from Bouse and is accessible only by rough dirt roads. Adventurous visitors can still see many of the mine shafts and remnants of the community. The truck that still sits near the mine seems to have been abandoned when the mine closed down.
Swansea Ghost Town Abandoned Truck
Rusty Old Truck Abandoned in Swansea Ghost Town, Arizona
This Rusty Truck Cab May Have Been a Company Truck in Swansea
Another old rusted truck cab is deteriorating into the desert. Bullet holes in it make you wonder if the employees of the mine were just furious about losing their jobs and homes, and took out their frustration by getting one last shot at the company truck.
A Rusty Abandoned Truck Used for Target Practice
Another Rusty Old Truck in Swansea Ghost Town, Arizona
A Classic Old Brockway Truck in the Tennessee Hills
I’m including this last photograph for sentimental reasons, as finding this classic old Brockway truck parked in the Tennessee hills was a thrill for my husband who used to build Brockway Trucks when the company was still in business in Cortland, New York. Obviously, it was not abandoned, and it was in good shape compared to many of the abandoned vehicles we saw. Most likely the truck was built in 1975 or 1976 and is a model 361. It’s part of someone’s vintage truck collection, and maybe some love and care will prevent it from becoming one of the rusting collections of abandoned vehicles on our scenic byways.
Old Brockway Truck in the Tennessee Hills
Photo Gallery of Abandoned Cars on our Scenic Byways
I hope you enjoyed my photo gallery of old abandoned cars and trucks that I found along some of our country's scenic byways. If you'd like to review the photographs, click on the thumbnails below
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Review Gallery of Photographs of Abandoned Cars and TrucksClick thumbnail to view full-size
Copyright ©2011 by Stephanie Henkel
All Rights Reserved
I personally braved the insect and snake infested wilds of the Black Hills, Arizona Desert and the Tennessee hills to photograph these abandoned cars and trucks, so I feel rather possessive towards my photographs. Please do not copy these photographs or any part of this article without specific permission from Stephanie Henkel. Thank you!
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