Curtis Perry has uploaded a raft of pictures taken a few years back on a trip to Goldfield, Nevada. Goldfield was of course named after a certain mineral found there, starting in 1903. Its population peaked at 20,000 in 1906. By 1910, it was down to 4838. It’s still dropping, having declined from 440 in 2000 to 268 in 2010. But the automotive residents haven’t all left yet, although it looks like the front clip of this ’60 Chevrolet is heading out, leaving the rest behind.
Who doesn’t love looking at photos of long ago abandoned autos in forlorn western settings ? There is something forever fascinating about these.
It’s like this all over the desert southwest. I see it every time I take a road trip out of town.
Land is plentiful and cheap. Zoning (where it even exists) enforcement is nonexistent.
No matter what the price of scrap is, it could never cover the cost of towing to the nearest scrapyard, because the nearest yard is 100 miles or more away.
I love seeing these artifacts.
I always find it fascinating to think that this rusting hulk in a field once sat it a showroom (or at least on a lot) shiny and new. I feel like the journey between those two points, if it were knowable, would almost always make for an interesting story.
You might enjoy the book “Auto Biography” by Earl Swift, then. I admit I haven’t read it myself, but the author managed to trace the complete ownership history of a 1957 Chevy station wagon from new to present day.
I read it; it was a great read. Doing research and contacting those still alive, he tells the story of all the previous owners who bought the wagon and eventually passed it on until he acquired it. He also details his dreams for restoring it, but jail time and reality derail some of his plans. A must-read for any chronic CCer.
Same here. Especially since big cars like the Chryslers would have been a luxury purchase, so there was still quite some money in the town as late as the sixties. There’d be some interesting social history behind some of these.
I seem to remember a Disney cartoon that covered this – made a big impression on me as a kid.
edit: might have been Susie the little ble Coupe
The midwestern salt-zone boy in me sees a successful project in almost every one of these pictures. Mechanically sound old cars with beautiful interiors are relatively common here, but are stuck in badly rusting bodies and frames. The slow process of moving all of the good stuff onto these basically solid metal shells is the stuff of our daydreams.
A certain editor here may be checking for online flight tickets to make an offer on that ’63 Galaxie 500. 🙂
Here’s what I’m wondering: The town lost 4/5ths of it’s population in 4 years (I’m guessing, logically, the mines played out.), But SOMETHING sustained the place for 90+years and THEN a nearly 50% drop in 10 years? – There’s a story there!
PS: I no longer receive follow up notifications, even though I click that option. Anyone else have this issue?
The early wave of the baby boomers have passed away (like my older bother and sister). The back end of the boomers (like me) left town after college graduation.
And generation X and Y (millennials) left right after high school!!
Actually it looks like a great place to retire!
Too hot and too isolated. Decent produce and semi-specialized medical care would be hard to find here in a place roughly halfway between Reno and Las Vegas. I think I’d be driving to Tonopah a lot!
The Model T is a ’26 or ’27 – earlier models lacked a driver’s side door.
I love how the Model T’s chassis structure, its torque tube rear end and transverse springs, are open and clear in this photo. It’s a car reduced down to its very essence.
1926 or 27 are the two years that this car wouldn’t be. The door that you are referring to isn’t actually a door but a pressed impression of a door. The shape of the real door was a bit different and the 26- 27 would have door hinges visible.
You’re right – I completely missed that!
The unidentified photo above will probably always be unidentified , but it does illustrate how wood was a critical structural component of cars back then. You can see how the sheet metal was a skin that was supported by the wooden structure. It can be hard to imagine for those who have never seen it but this picture shows that there was still some elements of wagon building in the real old cars.
I wonder if there is some old-timer here who remembers staring at the big bulge in that inner front fender while his Grandpa was working on the brakes. I have messed with this a bit and believe it to be a fairly long wheelbase American sedan from the mid 20s, but can’t get further than that.
That stupid inner fender bulge could not have been common . . .
I’m really enjoying these Curtis Perry posts – both the subjects and the photography. Thanks to both Curtis and Paul. Keep them coming!
These pictures are mesmerizing!
I wonder if that ’63 Olds expired from Roto-Hydramatic syndrome. 🙁
It’s a good thing your name isn’t PNDSLR or you might not be with us either. 🙂
Aspirating your morning coffee is not recommended – excuse me while I go clean up…
Good one, JPC! 🙂
CC effect: A few evenings ago, I was enjoying looking at a Rambler in front of another station. Ottawa’s then new train station in 1966.
The white Rambler station wagon looks like it just needs a battery and some gas!
The firewood tire chock says it’s ready to roll! 😉
Going by the fender badge it’s a V8 too, a 287 if it has the original engine. The more common 195.6 sixes in these were pretty anemic. Tinted glass indicates it might even have factory AC.
The Rambler is a 660 Classic. You can tell by the side trim, the lower 550 model had no side trim and the top of the line 770 had the wider front fender side trim the entire length of the car. The grill looks to be in good condition which is rare because it was a one piece thin aluminum stamping that dents easily. It was also the first year that Rambler A|C was integrated in the dash. It and tinted windows were uncommon options.
I’d love to get my paws on that ’63 Galaxie…
There’s an artistic beauty in dilapidation and the patina of weathering, as is captured here, especially with the pre-war examples. The missing components reduces the wreck to the most bare suggestion of an automobile.
It’s naturally -occurring Minimalist sculpture, brought forth by the photographer. Beautiful and mesmerizing.
I’m with you, traditional art has never been my forte(usually because there’s always a pompous snob around the corner of every sculpture to condescend to you it’s metaphorical significance and message) but I am mesmerized by places like this, I could stare and stare and ponder over this place for days after. I may be a philistine when it comes to “real” art but I do know enough about it that it’s supposed to have that same effect.
I find it incredibly sad when places like this get cleaned up under the guise of being an eyesore or a vague nuisance. There is so much beauty to this place, and am glad it’s far away from the greed of gentrification.
I am with you on your sadness. It is unfortunate that history gets destroyed under the guise of being an eyesore, nuisance or just being politically correct. I find these areas very charming. There are places in the prairie provinces of Canada which are kind of similar but are getting “cleaned up” in the last 15-20 years. I saw many restorable cars and also over 100 year old abandoned buildings that were in a fairly good state of preservation. Once it is gone, it is gone
The chrome-plated elements have held up surprisingly well, haven’t they. Would any of that material have been polished (or plated) stainless steel — or aluminum ?
I have the same reaction as others to the Model T carcass. The artillery wheels have weathered equally, and still support what remains of the rest of the former automobile. The resulting “sculpture” might have served as an amusing closer to the “Eight Automobiles” exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art, so long ago . . .
Curtis Perry’s work is outstanding. Brilliant use of the under hood lighting, with the corresponding added engine detail, makes this photo.
+1. That was the standout shot for me too.
Light shining through the holes in the hood where the badge used to be, lends to the morose mood.
Goldfield Nevada, highest dead cars per capita ratio in the USA
Remember to take the subway
I think there used to be a radio station located in the old hotel there in Goldfield, “Radio KOW”. I’ve included a picture of the DJ. ?
I was wondering if Vanishing Point was (partly) filmed there! One of my favorite movies.
This brings back vivid memories of a cross-country trip in December 2005. Pictured is a 55-56 Packard in Tonapah, Nevada. (Tonapah’s claim to fame was silver during the first decade of the 20th century.)
First-gen Fox T-Bird, 60s Suburban, and a VW Bug in varying stages of decrepitude, also in Tonapah:
What I dubbed the “Chevy Graveyard” in Loa, Utah. (Film didn’t advance properly in camera, which is why the car in the foreground with wood-spoked wheels is partly out of frame.)
I want the Galaxie.
Definitely the pick of the litter, unless the 63 Rambler wagon floats your boat. Look at that pristine quarter panel; cars rust from the top down as the unrelenting sun bakes off the paint.
Great pictures! I know of this little town from the wonderful Rocky Votolato song:
Google Maps says there is something in Goldfield called the International Car Forest.
I noticed that too and thought about posting it.
I also looked around Google Street View just to get a feel for what Goldfield was like. The Galaxie 500 featured here is visible on Street View, at the corner of 5th Ave. and Meyers St. It looks a bit rustier than when Curtis photographed it, but it’s hard to tell with Google’s relatively low resolution images. It looks like the last time Google photographed that street was in 2008, so who knows if it’s still there. I also found the garage where the Rambler was photographed (On Hwy 95 at 5th Ave) but no Rambler there anymore. Makes me wonder if the Rambler was actually a drivable vehicle, as it looked to be in decent shape compared to the others.
I too love the natural weathering that happens too old cars and machinery but I wonder if there is a cut off point where it is not as attractive.
I find peeling clear coat and also with the plastic front and rear ends on older “modern” cars just doesn’t have the same effect on me.
These shots are glorious, love em all but Model T is a standout.
Thanks for the memories of our visit in 2012!
I have some nice photos of those English subway entrances, they’re next to the now restored fire station and had a Packard home made camper conversion there last time i was there .
It’s a nice little town, I met some retirees there, I think it too isolated but others might just love the solitude .
Leaving the town I passed a NHP unit going into town, I was going close to 80 in my Metropolitan Nash FHC, he gave me a hard look but didn’t turn around .