The Last Drive In #14158

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The Story

This Minnesota junkyard far out in the prairie had well over 150 vintage pickup trucks from the 1950s that were scattered about and loosely grouped. In this subsection, Chevy pickup trucks from the 1950s were lined up side by side to hang out together forever, reminding me of something like a never-ending drive-in movie theater from the past. Obviously, it was clearly the last matinee showing here. The plants had grown high over the summer and the grass had topped out to tassels, ready to seed. The green leaves rising through the engine compartment and poking through the passenger window made this old truck look like a potted plant with wheels under it.

This junkyard is still an operating business taking orders for vintage parts from around the world. Amazingly, there was a lot of room with hundreds of acres filled with any imaginable mechanical thing sitting in the grass. For someone who likes to create art from junk as well as automotive history, this place was a smorgasbord. There were old panel trucks, Trans-Ams, Packards, and Winnebagos. There were interesting things with wooden spoked wheels, school buses, and rounded off cars from the 1940s. Old farm tractors, truck tractors, and farming equipment sat scattered in loose groupings. All that and more were here in this out of the way Minnesota junkyard, a large prairie landscape of grass and rusty yesteryear hulks.

I loved the faded turquoise color of this old five-window Chevy pickup. The color glowed as it sat in late afternoon light under the overarching prairie sky. That turquoise isn’t original, the dark green inside the engine compartment is the factory color. The colors on all the vehicles here are giving way to the final finish: a universal rusty brown patina. That is, of course, is nature’s preferred color in this dead and still world, but I also love how the faded original paint is blended together with it.

For a better perspective, I went up a stepladder with a wide angle lens trying to get every bit of this scene and that big sky. It was a hot afternoon in August and the slight breeze gently waved the tick-infested grass. I had shot this Chevy pickup truck extensively the day before and didn’t quite get the character I was looking for. Patiently, I waited for the low angle warm light to shoot with just ten minutes before the junkyard closed. It was the last day of a four-day shoot here and this shot was going to be now or never. The Photo Gypsy was on my shoulder to help and Mother Nature imparted a great sky in a timely way. Thankfully, this one came out a winner.

Have a look at the 1930s Ford truck in Moonshine Alley #13970 as an example of the great variety in this Minnesota junkyard. You can get a pretty good feel for the place in that one. In the background of the shot sits a line of 1940s cars.

If junk cars are your thing, there are plenty on this website. Here’s Packard Sun Tan #14026, a 1938 Packard sedan in that aforementioned universal brown sitting out there on the Minnesota prairie too.

Location: western Minnesota getting pretty close to Fargo, ND. Image and text © Andrew Dierks

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