You may recall a story I did at the beginning of February about how important the local junkyard once was to the automotive world. Here's a link to it for some context:
In that story I used pictures that were taken at a junkyard in the mid 1990s. The yard was located on the Illinois side of the Mississippi river, near East Saint Louis, IL. As you might guess East Saint Louis is just across the river from Saint Louis, Missouri.
Sometime toward the end of the '90s the Mississippi river flooded the area and the junkyard you see in these pictures, along with the trees and the houses, were washed away.
When the pictures were taken the cars were largely considered unsalvageable by most Rodders. Years of setting outside in the elements combined with countless floods had rusted and damaged them beyond repair.
While their may have been small trim pieces and other things that might have been of use to someone, someplace in the world, no one wanted the hassle of dealing with them. The land was for sale, by the city, and could have been purchased for next to nothing.
From family pictures.
The amount of labor it would have taken to remove each small part off of relatively common cars, then figure out a way to find a buyer (in a pre internet world) was enough to scare most people away. One night the river solved the problem for everyone.
From family pictures.
This yard in Illinois isn't the only one in the country. In fact, I can think of one such place that's within 25 miles of where I live.
This yard, has been around since the 1940s. I would estimate its size to be about 100 acres.
While it isn't in danger of being washed away by a river, it faces an even greater threat. Time. It's contents are slowly dissolving back into the ground.
Photo by: Chris Breeden. The one on the left is a '57 Chevy Bel Air. The one in the middle is a mid '60s Thunderbird and the one on the right is a first generation Camaro.
As you can see the yard has been fenced off and it even has a very nice chain link fence enclosure where the cars the owner feels are "valuable" are put to keep them from being stolen.
Nothing is ever sold from this yard. For as long as I can remember the yard has looked pretty much as it does in these pictures. The only exception being the fancy fence, a 1990s addition. For whatever reason, the owner thinks these cars will continue to increase in value.
The truth is that the prime time to have sold them all was in the 1990s. They were still solid then and the market desperately needed vintage tin at the time. This yard could have provided an influx of useable cars, at a regional level. The owner didn't sell and the gap in the market was filled by fiberglass cars.
So they will probably set here, in a country field, until the land changes hands and they are either sold for scrap or buried in a hole.
Whatever the fate of these cars turns out to be, the loss of the parts they posses is a shame. If handled correctly, they could be the thing that brings other cars back to life, back to the road. More classics on the road is a good thing!
Keep on Cruisin'!
Art by: Chris Breeden
Thanks for reading!