A Decades-Old Auto Graveyard Sits at the Bottom of a Cliff
Yes, it's an automobile graveyard. It's not a place where old autos hobble off somewhere to die...these were put here for a purpose. Not for art, not for convenience. It's not a junkyard or auto salvage yard.
These junked vehicles were pushed off a cliff down to the shores of Lake Michigan ON PURPOSE by some residents of St. Joseph.
St. Joseph sits on a Lake Michigan bluff that has slowly been eroding away, threatening the homes that remain. Little by little, chunks of land fall into the lake, making it seem inevitable that someday, the homes at the top of the bluff will collapse down the cliff. In fact, back in the 1950s, that's exactly what happened to the homes of six residents.
The South Bend Tribune says around 1967, resident Carl Kuyat came up with the idea of pushing over 230 junked vehicles down the bluff, in an attempt to prevent continued erosion. It was hoped the steel auto bodies would stop the waves from pounding into the bluff that was wiping away the land. These cars still sit at the bottom of the bluff, resting, rusted, and ransacked.
Occasionally, homeowners down the shore will come across an old tire, bumper, radiator, or other car part that has been washed away and set upon their property.
Yes, there are warning signs that it's dangerous to climb down the cliff...if you slip, you could land on a jagged, rusted shard of metal and get seriously injured. Even so, there don't seem to be any plans to clean it up.....yet. As St. Joseph City Manager John Hodgson said, “On one hand, it’s an eyesore - but on the other, it’s history”.
THE AUTO GRAVEYARD
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