Written By Karl VonBerg.

Posted on July 5th, 2018.

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Looking at old junk in woodlands through the lens of history and aesthetics.

Woodlands can hold some interesting discoveries that you might not expect to find - cars, farm equipment, bottle dumps - to name a few. But how did all this “junk” get into the woods?

The most common way was dumping or dragging it into the woods, while other times the junk was deposited before the trees were even there.

How can that be? Well, stone walls and smoothly plowed ground in the forest gives a clue. It turns out many artifacts are remnants of our rich agricultural past. In fact, 75% of New York’s forests were cleared for agriculture by the late 1800’s. This trend has since reversed and New York is now over 60% forested, with areas like the Catskills having even more.


Vintage Jeep

As I meet with loggers in the woods to talk about their harvests, I often come across items from that past era. Reflecting on these relics, I find myself surprisingly torn. While some items are really neat looking - even beautiful - others are truly ugly, worthy of the dump.

Just what makes the difference between art and junk? Perhaps it is age, color, its use, nostalgia, the look, its condition, or any other characteristics.

Where do you stand – are these items art or are they junk? Let us know what you think!


Old farm manure spreader filled with rotting logs in the woods.


Old car virtually rotted away in the woods.


Old truck covered in vines.


1940’s Oldsmobile.


Wheels and axle of an abandoned seeder.


Seedlings grow in an old pickup truck.

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