I have lived in the Southern Tier of New York state for over 5 decades. There pretty much isn’t anything here that I haven’t seen or photographed. Or, so I thought.
As most of you know, I am forever networking on Google+, Facebook, and other social networking sites. It was during a post engagement on facebook that I was asked by a friend if I had ever photographed the 1930’s rusted cars and an abandoned farmhouse up along the east side of Seneca lake. My answer to him was an interested “no”. Now I have been around Seneca lake at least 100 times in my life. I’ve seen old tractors, several cars, lots of farmhouses but never all in one spot. At first I had thought maybe he had the wrong lake or something. On a cold November day we decided to meet up and he would show me this place.He was interested in my shooting style so we agreed it would be a good trade off. I grabbed my friend Lou and we headed off to meet my facebook friend to find out what exactly I had missed all of these years.
We met up at a small park in Watkins Glen, NY called Clute Park and our friend agreed to lead the way. We drop a few miles up the side of the lake and pulled off an unassuming shoulder. One I had been by many, many times. The difference? Well, I rarely drive the lake road in the late fall, early winter. So, overgrown vegetation camouflages this site quite well. So well in fact, I tried to take a friend there in late August and we could not get anywhere near the place. The entire site was engulfed in poison ivy and 4 foot high thorn bushes. And while we could see the place today, the walk in would not be one without blood and broken camera equipment.
Normally, I have a great history background to accompany my shoot. Unfortunately, no one seems to know the background on this place. The first thing you see after maneuvering the thorn bushes is an old, and large farmhouse that the roof has sadly collapsed on.
The minute I saw this old dodge truck the sadness hit me like a ton of bricks. You would have thought the house would have done it but for some reason, this old truck made it real for me.
So much so, that shot ended up being the cover for “The Art of Decay” eBook. After about 30 minutes of hacking and slashing to make our way across the lot and down the hill we find this beauty.
This car is fairly complete on the outside. In fact, it’s practically drive-able compared to the other cars on the lot. The same cannot be said about the interior. Dig those suicide doors though!!
Just a broken tripod leg and short distance away is this 1948 apple green Chrysler Windsor with the ever not-so-popular Fluid Drive tail light.
Lest you think we exaggerate about the thorns and overgrowth, check out this shot.
The prized shot from this day would be this car which appeared to be driven right into the ground. Hence the name “Driven to Death”.
As we continue to hack and chop our way around our minds just run wild with scenarios of how this site could end up like this. All I could think when seeing these next two cars was a big car chase back in the day. With the gangsters crashing here at the end.
The reality is, this was someones home. Someone who loved MOPAR and collected all of these and had hopes and dreams for all of them. There are a total of about 10 cars here all from the 30’s and 40’s. All suicide door era Chrysler and Dodge vehicles. All quietly being reclaimed by natures power.
Even though the interiors were completely decay they were the least cluttered areas of the entire property. Plus, the styling back in the day was just amazing! We just do not build stuff like this anymore which is really sad.
Take this art-deco license plate light fixture for instance.
You can see by this next shot how all of this disappears when the foliage blooms in the spring. Imagine all of these vines covered with leaves.
This car just reminds me of some sci-fi robot head from the 1950’s.
Having broken my tripod leg on the massive jungle of thorns and spending 3 hours in the cold we decided to climb our way back to the car and call it a day. While all of these cars were really cool the whole scene was really sad. Hopefully someone will see this story and the cars and fill me in on the details to this site. Any of you collectors out there that think there is anything there to snatch and grab, do not bother. All the emblems, and un-rusted out parts have already been scarfed up. It’s a graveyard now and needs to be left alone. And unless you want to end up bloodied I suggest you heed those words.
As I stated earlier, I tried to bring a friend here to shoot in August of this year but it was a no-go. First, we drove by the place 4 times before we finally figured out where it was. There was just nothing visible with all of the overgrowth. Then, to add to that the overgrowth was mostly poison ivy and really not worth the pain. This would not be my last visit though. Just a couple of weeks ago, Lou and I, and a friend would return to see how the cars were holding up. The thorns were even worse than before which was to be expected. This was a particularly warm day so weather wasn’t going to be an issue, or so we thought. The house is still standing which was completely surprising.
There had definitely been someone here as a lot of the doors on the cars had been opened. Since the doors on the truck were opened I decided that I would get some shots that I did not last time and shoot the interior.
This truck was someones pride-and-joy at one time. Maybe even their first vehicle.
The “Driven to Death” car has had it’s door and trunk lid ripped off. Obviously by some idiot looking to scrap some parts. I will state again…there is NOTHING left worth the time…just let them rest in peace!
Best I can do is get the shots and hope that people can have some respect.
So a year later and as I said the overgrowth is worse now but one thing is exactly the same. I have broken one of my tripod legs again! I have been all over the place with this old Giottos tripod and it has been flawless. But twice now, this site has claimed two tripod leg clamps! I was actually able to get into this car last year.
Such a cool place. We were hoping to capture a little snow on the vehicles but the early afternoon sun made sure there was nothing left to see.
Here is a look at the old Chrysler Imperial dash, one year later.
There is also a couple of foundations and a barn on the property. The barn is empty and the roof there is compromised as well. It can be seen here in the left.
Most of the cars here are easily identifiable. This one, not-so-much.
Every time I see this I have to shoot it. It just makes me smile for some reason.
Here is a gem from 1929 that was hiding under a buried hood.
One last shot of the robot-like hood before we are ready to call it day and go grab some lunch.
So with once again bloodied legs and arms, and my broken tripod, we head back to the car. One thing that crossed my mind while we were in there was that the deer in the area must love the cover. And with that, there was some concern with being bitten by ticks. Sure enough, when we got back to the pizza shop, Lou exclaimed from the back seat that he had found one on his hand. Then when I got home, a little freaked out, I stripped down and found two on my chest and shoulder. Neither the one Lou found or the two that I found had actually bitten us but it is one of those things that makes you itch just thinking about it. And with Lyme disease being such a risk from deer tick bites, a bit thankful too.
So, to recap, if you decide to try to find these cars. You will face, thorns, poison ivy, broken equipment, deer ticks, possibly Lyme disease, and/or death. In other words, it’s not worth it. Enjoy the photos I have already done the bleeding for you. 🙂 See the full gallery and purchase prints @