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Scenic Byways - A Photo Gallery of Abandoned Cars

Abandoned Car in the Black Hills of South Dakota

This car was along a scenic back road in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

This car was along a scenic back road 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!

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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?

Who shot out the window of this old abandoned car?

Who shot out the window of this old abandoned car?

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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

Was this a police chase gone bad in the Black Hills of South Dakota?

Was this a police chase gone bad in the Black Hills of South Dakota?

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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

This old car was nearly hidden in the brush off one of the scenic byways near Lead, SD.

This old car was nearly hidden in the brush off one of the scenic byways near Lead, SD.

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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?

This car was abandoned along old Route 66 near the Petrified Forest in Arizona. They were probably collectors of petrified wood.

This car was abandoned along old Route 66 near the Petrified Forest in Arizona. They were probably collectors of petrified wood.

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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

Wonder why they left this truck here?

Wonder why they left this truck here?

Rusty Old Truck Abandoned in Swansea Ghost Town, Arizona

This old truck was one of the abandoned vehicles in Swansea Ghost Town in Arizona.

This old truck was one of the abandoned vehicles in Swansea Ghost Town in 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

This old truck was full of bullet holes - lookout!

This old truck was full of bullet holes - lookout!

Another Rusty Old Truck in Swansea Ghost Town, Arizona

This is another old rusty truck that was abandoned in Swansea Ghost Town in Arizona.

This is another old rusty truck that was abandoned in Swansea Ghost Town in Arizona.

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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

This old Brockway truck is parked on one of Tennessee's scenic byways.

This old Brockway truck is parked on one of Tennessee's scenic byways.

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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

Thanks for visiting, and do please leave a comment

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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Other Photo Galleries and Hubs By Stephanie Henkel

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  • Olympic National Park-Part 1 - Wildflowers on Hurricane Ridge
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  • Slab City California: The Last Free Place
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  • Boondocking in the Arizona Desert with Pictures
    The term "boondocking" usually refers to camping in remote areas far from the comforts of civilization. One of our favorite places to boondock is on BLM land in the Arizona desert. For some of the best places in Arizona to boondock and tips on boond

Your Comments are Welcome

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on July 12, 2017:

This was a great article to read. It's a shame that these cars are abandoned as it looks like they were once such beautiful cars!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on April 30, 2014:

crazybeanrider - So glad you enjoyed this photo gallery of abandoned cars! Thanks for stopping in to comment!

Boo McCourt from Washington MI on April 30, 2014:

I loved this, fascinating! Beautiful pictures.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on April 29, 2014:

Moonlake - I'm glad you enjoyed the photographs. Thanks so much for stopping in to read and comment!

moonlake from America on April 29, 2014:

Beautiful photos. I love old rusty stuff. Voted up and shared.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on April 29, 2014:

Vocalcoach - Thanks so much for your kind comment, Audrey. When I started photographing these old cars, I was fascinated by them, but had no idea that I would come across so many. It was fun to seek them out and collect them into a hub to share.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on April 29, 2014:

suzettenaples - Some of these cars reminded me of Bonnie and Clyde, too. I believe that they all have interesting stories to tell...if only they could talk! Thanks for your comment!

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on April 28, 2014:

Stephanie - Your Gallery of Abandoned Cars is just magnificent. Your photography is so real I felt that I was right there. Thank you for sharing your art with us. - Audrey

suzettenaples on April 28, 2014:

Stephanie: Your photos ate beautiful and I love the subject of old abandoned cars. Some of them are really old . The first car pictured reminds me of Bonnie and Clyde. Very interesting photo essay.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on February 16, 2014:

David Paul Wagner - Thanks so much for your comments on my article. I love it when we come across some of the old rusted vehicles of yesteryear in our travels. They are always a surprise and I enjoy imagining the stories behind them. Thanks for stopping by!

David Paul Wagner from Sydney, Australia on February 16, 2014:

Thanks for this great photo gallery of old vehicles with all their hidden secrets. You have given us a parade of Americana that is a world away from the glitz of the big cities!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on September 23, 2013:

teaches12345 - Glad you enjoyed my photo gallery of rusty old cars! Certainly the restored antique cars are a lot more fun to ride in! I was surprised to see some of these cars abandoned, actually. I thought that old car buffs might have tried restoring them at one point or at least used the good parts.

Dianna Mendez on September 22, 2013:

This is quite interesting to see and read about. I love seeing old cars, preferably restored, but these are quite interesting indeed. My dad had an old model T that was so fun to ride in on any day.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on November 27, 2012:

David R Bradley - It sure makes me smile to read your enthusiastic comments on my hub! I love these old cars, too. Thanks so much for reading and for your great comments!

David R Bradley from The Active Side of Infinity on November 27, 2012:

This has to be, hands down one of the coolest HUBs I've seen in a very long time. Not only do I love vintage cars, I love photos of vintage cars! Thanks for this and the inspiration!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on November 27, 2012:

SeetyD - Thanks so much for your kind comments! I'm so glad you enjoyed my photo gallery of abandoned cars!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on November 27, 2012:

GoodLady - I do love those abandoned rusty cars along some of America's scenic byways! They are like vintage sculptures and must hold so much history. Thank you for commenting and sharing!

SkeetyD on November 27, 2012:

Very interesting hub. I love the subject matter and pictures. I love the spin to puton the whole piece. Voted up.

Penelope Hart from Rome, Italy on November 27, 2012:

Yes, I loved your hub, the wonderful photographs that tell so many stories (or hide their secrets). Pinning and voting and sharing.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on May 20, 2012:

Jools99 - Thanks for pinning! I've had some good traffic on Pinterest, though it's hard to predict what will catch people's eye. I appreciate the share!

Jools Hogg from North-East UK on May 20, 2012:

Stephanie, I pinned it as well as sharing and it has received quite a few repins, hope this gets you some additional traffic, this hub deserves a wider audience :o)

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on May 20, 2012:

Mollymeadows - It sounds like great fun to be play with your cousins in the old abandoned truck. I'm sure you came up with all kinds of interesting imaginary scenarios! I know that some of my best childhood memories involve playing with my cousin and making up stories and games. Thanks for stopping in to share your memories!

Mary Strain from The Shire on May 20, 2012:

Stephanie, this takes me back. When I was a kid and visited my grandparents I used to play with my cousins in an abandoned truck half-covered in kudzu that was in a nearby field. We'd yank the big steering wheel (nothing happened) and push all the old-fashioned knobs. The seats were baking and cracked open and there was a bee nest in the truck bed, but it was great fun. Thanks for the blast from the past!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on May 20, 2012:

Hi Jools99 - The cars with the bullet holes reminded me of the Bonnie and Clyde movie and shootouts with the law. I probably have too active of an imagination, but it's fun to imagine some exciting car chases over those old back roads. Thanks for the comments and the share!

Jools Hogg from North-East UK on May 19, 2012:

Stephanie, I loved this hub. I liked the way you framed the photographs, it is very retro and imagining the lives of these old cars is fun isn't it? They all look quite old, except the truck and the ones with shot out windscreens and bullet holed doors are fascinating in a macabre way.

Loved it, voted up and shared.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on May 19, 2012:

Natashalh - These old cars were fascinating - I'm glad you enjoyed the photographs! Thanks for visiting my hub and for your comments!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on May 19, 2012:

tillsontitan - It was fun to imagine the stories behind these abandoned cars and trucks. I'm glad you found it entertaining, and I do appreciate your comments!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on May 19, 2012:

iamaudraleigh - Glad you enjoyed the photos of the abandoned cars. As we traveled west and explored some of the back roads, I was fascinated by the old cars that lay hidden in the weeds and brush. Thank you for coming by to read and comment, Audra!

Natasha from Hawaii on May 19, 2012:

These cars look so old! Great photos - thanks for sharing them.

Mary Craig from New York on May 19, 2012:

How creative to write about abandoned cars and weave the story of their 'hometowns' in with them. It was an interesting read as it led from photo to photo. Voted up, beautiful, and interesting.

iamaudraleigh on May 19, 2012:

Fabulous picture, great idea for a hub, and a great writer! Neat!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on November 19, 2011:

Hello GarnetBird - No, I don't belong to Panoramio. It sounds interesting -I'll take a look. I loved your inspirational sunset/sky photographs, too! Thank you for the comments and the complement!

Gloria Siess from Wrightwood, California on November 19, 2011:

ARTY/LOVE this--so unique...do you belong to panoramio? I have a gallery there of over 300 photos...it's international and arty and they would LOVE these abandoned car photos...I do broken old, eerie windows..very similar to what you're doing here. Keep up the great work!!!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on November 11, 2011:

GiftedGrandma - We both seem to have an affinity for the falling down buildings, old machines and abandoned old cars. Maybe I identify a little with these antiques! Hahaha... It is amazing what we can find when we keep our eyes open! Thanks for stopping in to comment!

GiftedGrandma from USA on November 11, 2011:

Wonderful! I love getting pictures of old vehicles. Where ever do you find all of them? Falling down buildings, old farm machinery and old vehicles...love to find them and photograph :o)

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on November 11, 2011:

Ktrapp- Thanks so much,Kristen! Finding these abandoned cars and trucks were like finding treasure, for me. I really did enjoy these discoveries and the process of photographing them. Thanks so much for visiting and for your nice comments and votes!

Kristin Trapp from Illinois on November 11, 2011:

This is terrific. It makes me think of "one man's junk is another man's treasure." It is amazing how you made these abandoned cars and trucks into wonderful photo art. This truly was interesting and unique - loved it! ~voting up and beautiful~

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on November 09, 2011:

Sallieann- Wave when you go by! :)

sallieannluvslife from Eastern Shore on November 09, 2011:

Stephanie, my family and I love North Carolina. We go to the Outerbanks as much as we possibly can. We are actually spending Thanksgiving with family in Nag's Head this year and can hardly wait! I'm an East coast girl originally and love the ocean...I just have salt water in my veins and sand on my feet!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on November 09, 2011:

Kittythedreamer - I do enjoy speculating about each of these abandoned cars. To me, because these cars and trucks are so old, they have gone beyond junk into the category of art. Thank you for your comments and votes - I'm glad you like the pictures!

Kitty Fields from Summerland on November 09, 2011:

I voted up, awesome, and beautiful. Each of these abandoned cars has its own personality and beauty. It does make you wonder what happened with each abandoned car...why it was abandoned...what events they might've seen in their running days. Thanks so much for sharing. Love the pictures!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on November 09, 2011:

Sallieannluvslife - I'm a little farther south in NC, but still love being near the ocean!

sallieannluvslife from Eastern Shore on November 09, 2011:

Close!! Eastern Shore of Maryland - we are neighbors! :)

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on November 08, 2011:

Randomcreative - This is something I've wanted to do for a while. I'm happy to hear the positive feedback! Thanks for stopping by to read and comment on my hub!

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on November 08, 2011:

Great photographs and great topic for a hub!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on November 08, 2011:

Thanks, Gail! I wish I could have had "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" playing as people viewed the hub! When I photographed these old abandoned cars, especially the ones with bullet holes in them, I couldn't help thinking about wild car chases and shoot outs!

I appreciate your comments and votes, and especially your on-going support! Thanks for stopping in!

Gail Sobotkin from South Carolina on November 08, 2011:

Great hub about a unique topic. Loved these photos of abandoned cars and trucks. Before I read the explanations I was also thinking Bonnie & Clyde shoot out!

Very cool! Voted up, awesome, beautiful and interesting.

(I even loved your clever copywrite wording about the insects & bugs that you braved to get the shots!)

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on November 08, 2011:

Sallieannluvslife - It is sad, especially for those who collect antique and classic cars, to see these abandoned cars turning to rust! Perhaps you've seen some of these very same cars when you lived in South Dakota! Thanks for visiting my hub and leaving your comment.

P.S. Eastern shore of Virginia? We may be neighbors!

sallieannluvslife from Eastern Shore on November 08, 2011:

We just moved back East from South Dakota last year! It was really funny seeing these old cars/trucks - how sad that they were not kept in a garage somewhere as they would be classics today. I really enjoyed this hub...I'm going to show my husband, he will really enjoy the pictures, as well.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on November 08, 2011:

Millionaire Tips - I saw many of these old abandoned cars and trucks in the west and I've ever seen on the east coast. I think they're easy to overlook as they can be overgrown with brush and weeds or hidden in the woods. Thank you for stopping by to view my gallery and comment!

Shasta Matova from USA on November 08, 2011:

These are beautiful - great photos of these old vehicles. I haven't seen vehicles that old, or maybe I just need to keep a lookout for them.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on November 08, 2011:

iZeko - I was surprised, too, when traveling the scenic byways of South Dakota and Arizona, at how photogenic these old rusty cars and trucks turned out to be. Thanks for reading and commenting!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on November 08, 2011:

Vinaya - The old abandoned cars pictured here are glimpses into our past that will,in many cases, disappear. I'm glad you are enjoying my photo galleries. Thanks for visiting and for your comments!

iZeko on November 08, 2011:

These abandoned cars are so photogenic!! Very beautiful gallery!

Vinaya Ghimire from Nepal on November 07, 2011:

I'm loving your photo gallery hubs. I live on the other side of the globe and I have never seen this.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on November 07, 2011:

K9keystrokes- Haha...I thought of Bonnie and Clyde when I saw some of these abandoned cars and trucks, too! Thanks for stopping by, and thanks so much for sharing this hub!

Sondra from Neverland on November 07, 2011:

Stephanie - I will ask him tomorrow when I visit!!

India Arnold from Northern, California on November 07, 2011:

I love this hub! The image of the old abandoned truck with bullet holes made me think about Bonnie and Clyde! Great subject matter and cool vignettes! Sharing with my Twitter friends for sure!

HubHugs~

K9

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on November 07, 2011:

Jeannieinabottle - Doing a hub about these old abandoned cars was fun, and a little different from my usual. I'm glad you found them interesting. Thanks for stopping in to read and comment!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on November 07, 2011:

Billrrrr - I was surprised to see so many old abandoned cars in the Black Hills. At first I thought they were deliberately put there for the tourists - silly me! As you say, in the Northeast, vehicles just don't last that long! Thanks for sharing your memories, and thanks for the note about the Beach Boys song -- hope you don't mind, but I've added it at the end of the hub for a little added zip! :)

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on November 07, 2011:

RebekahELLE - Thanks for stopping in to read and comment. I'm so glad you enjoyed the hub, and thanks for sharing it!

Jeannie Marie from Baltimore, MD on November 07, 2011:

This is a really interesting hub. I would have never imagined there were so many abandoned cars along the road. I also never thought old cars could be so interesting to look at in photos, but they certainly are. Thanks for sharing!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on November 07, 2011:

Diogenes - I'm sure some of these abandoned cars have been in their present locations for more than 50 years. It's amazing how long they have lasted! I'm sure the trucks in the desert are preserved by the dry climate - they even have paint left on them. Thanks for stopping in to read and comment!

rebekahELLE from Tampa Bay on November 07, 2011:

wonderful! This is getting tweeted and Facebooked!

Bill Russo from Cape Cod on November 07, 2011:

I just have to make one more comment. The Model A that you photographed. I am unable to believe that it is still there in that good condition. If that were in the Northeast, it would be snapped up in a half-minute.

Bill Russo from Cape Cod on November 07, 2011:

You did a wonderful job.

I cannot believe that those vehicles are still around. When I was a kid in the 1940s and 50s we often saw abandoned cars. Trucks were available everywhere. The coal and ice companies used to just drive their old vehicles into the woods and leave them.

In the 60s, some of my friends went on expeditions buying up the old Model Ts and Model As. They reworked them into cars that inspired the Beach Boys to make songs about them. Their great 60s smash, Little Deuce Coupe is about a 1932 Model B Ford. It was a hot car that had a V8 engine about two decades before Chevrolet could manage one.

diogenes from UK and Mexico on November 07, 2011:

Good work! These old cars litter the arroyos in Mexico too and when the yearly floods come they slowly inch their way towards the sea; they get buried and are uncovered regularly and seem to hang around for more than 50 years...Bob

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on November 07, 2011:

Brianlokker - I'm so glad to have your feedback on this. I wasn't sure about using the vignette technique, but it just seemed right for these old abandoned cars. Thanks so much for visiting and for your very nice comments!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on November 07, 2011:

Ardie - Thanks so much for your comment! I do hope your Dad likes the photo gallery of the abandoned cars. If he can tell me the models of some of the cars, I'd love to hear from him!

Brian Lokker from Bethesda, Maryland on November 07, 2011:

This is a wonderful gallery. The photos are beautiful -- "sculptures of metal and rust," yes, exactly. Their artistic quality is enhanced by your vignetting technique, too. And I love your speculation about the origin and owners of the vehicles. Great job!

Sondra from Neverland on November 07, 2011:

This is by FAR one of the best photo hubs I've ever seen. My dad will LOVE this so Im posting it to my Facebook for him to see. Great work :)

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