Trash to Treasure

a trash heap at the Arcadian Mine containing items from an old restuarant

If there is one thing of certainty in our explorations across the Copper Country, it is the fact that no matter where we go or how deep into the woods we venture, we will always find trash. In fact no exploration of a ruin is considered completed until we find a washing machine. The sad truth is, we are never disappointed.

Of course ruins by their very nature are just large pieces of trash. Like discarded banana peels or newspapers, the mines and mills of the Copper Country were thrown away once their usefulness ran out. The ruins we find are simply large concentrations of trash – not so much newspapers or banana peels; but as concrete, steel, and rock. But as the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. To us, these piles of trash are treasures to be explored and admired. We don’t see junk, but instead see windows to the past. We see clues to who we are and where we have come from.

One of many Bosch Beer cans found throughout our explorations. Bosch was one of the many local breweries that supplied beer to the copper country for decades before imports from other states were norm.

The remains of a car in a swamp outside the Mohawk mine.

But even besides the ruins, we find trash everyday that we love to find. Like a collection of old Bosh beer cans, or an antique car rotting in a field these things are a joy to discover. While these items are in fact trash, dumped decades ago, we look at them today as treasures. (most archeologists and anthropologists will tell you that old trash dumps are the best source of information about a culture and time)

An old rake head: trash or treasure?

But then we find a Miller beer can, or a smashed television. We could hardly call these things treasures, and we think of them as trash. But that’s today. Perhaps in 50 years those TV’s and Miller beer cans will look as interesting as Bosh beer cans or old cars do today. Perhaps the difference between trash and treasure is simply a matter of time. Perhaps explorers in the future will stumble across the washing machines we always joke about, and consider it a window to the past, and clues to who they are. Who knows.

The remains of an old car sitting outside an abandoned house at Phoenix.

The interior of the old car at Phoenix, picked over by scavengers

“Rust Proof Compound” from Texaco sitting along the road outside Eagle River

A can of oil a driver dumped on the side of the road after topping off their car

A smashed can of Red Bull – written about in a blog like this in the future?
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  1. I found it intersting growing up we would often come across abandoned cars in the middle of nowhere like somone drove it there at the end of its life and walked away. I use to have fun going thru them the smell of old rubber use to love it.

  2. Its amazing the amount of cars I find out in the field – easily near a hundred by now. They’re laying out and about almost everywhere. There’s even a car junkyard out by Eagle River, where you can find more than a dozen old cars piled on top of each other along the side of a hill. It was crazy…

  3. How come there isn’t a picture of those legendary washing machines? :-)

    At North America gap there was an excellent collection of very early trash someone had “mined” out of Eagle River that flows past the location. No doubt they took the good stuff home, but what was left was still interesting.

    Also, one time we followed Owl Creek downhill at the Copper Falls mine. Lots of early junk along there too. That early stuff does have the feel of treasure to me altho it is worthless trash, broken bottles, etc.

  4. Where is the Junkyard by Eagle River? I just bought an old junk car from a field and need some parts! Honestly!

  5. Just past the cemetery and just before 5 mile point road there’s a road off to the left that’s marked with a “no dumping” sign. Take a ride down that road and follow it around a corner and you’ll come to an open field. Around the western edge of that field you’ll find the cars.

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