Friday Classic: Busted, Rusted and In the River

Pristine mountain lakes, streams flowing through meadows full of wildflowers, places where you see no sign of human activity, only rising trout. These are the places we dream about, and if we are lucky, get to go. But lately the underbelly of  less heralded waters has garnered my attention. At first I thought it was just one of my home rivers. But as I opened my eyes I realized how common it is to find all sorts of rusted, busted, old cars, machinery and assorted equipment in and along so many of our rivers.


Old cars used for bank stabilization Photos by Steven Brutger

Some of it was simply discarded. Some of it is still in use. In other cases, what we might now see as junk was needed to prevent erosion and was the best available technology at the time. I’m grateful that we have come up with more effective ways to complete stream restoration. I hope we continue to find better ways to discard our waste than resorting to putting it in the river. However, I can’t help be reminded about the eye of the beholder. For me there is a strange beauty in all of these objects.


Pump Jack, a stones throw from one of my favorite runs


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