Abandoned Car, Desert Gully
Posted on 18 April 2013
Abandoned Car, Desert Gully. Death Valley National Park, California. March 4, 2013. © Copyright 2013 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.
An old and very weathered car abandoned to the elements in a desert mountain streambed.
There are many threads to the Death Vally story, and portions of these stories can be read by looking in the right places in the park. There is the geological story that involves seismic activity, a very old lake, and the surprising role of water in what is today a very dry place. Occasional remnants of their ancient presence tells the faint story of the people who lived here before Europeans arrived. And there is the story of extraction – prospecting and the mining of all sorts of materials, some of which has not ended even today. (There are a couple of inholdings within the larger boundaries of the park where mineral rights are maintained and mining work continues – a jarring sight the first time you encounter in while in a national park.)
Much of this work took place only a few decades ago, and the detritus of that period is still found throughout the park. A few examples are well-known, marked on maps, and even have directional signs and interpretive information displayed by the park. However, if you poke around even a little bit you’ll soon come across many other examples of old mines, tailings, buildings, automobiles, and more. (If you visit the park and see these things, please be very careful around them. They are deteriorating, and almost anything you do to disturb them will hasten that process and deprive future visitors of the experience that you are enjoying.) There is one such site that I have driven past many times, but where I have never stopped until this trip. Beyond the obvious artifacts that are visible from a passing road, the site continues. This time I stopped, got out of my car, and spent some time wandering up and old trail that heads up a gully and then switchbacks up a nearby hill. A ways up this hill, after passing some dilapidated buildings, I came to a gully that must have been the occupants’ automobile graveyard, since there were several very old, rusting vehicles in this gully, partially embedded in sand that must have washed down during rain.
G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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