This is what you see as you look across the Tuckaseegee River when you drive south on 19 towards Bryson City, North Carolina:
My first thought was that some locals had been using the river as a junk yard, but this is not the case.
The southern Appalachians around the Smokies can basically be considered a temperate rainforest. Not as much rain as the Amazon, but, still, quite a lot. Anytime you start removing the vegetation around a river in a rainforest, you are going to have a problem. Without vegetation the banks will wash away at an impressive rate. So…what to do?
About 50 years ago or so someone had a bright idea. Erosion was a serious problem on the Tuckaseegee River, and there were an awful lot of old cars lying around. Two birds, one stone. Lets take the old cars and use them to shore up the banks of the river. Houses and businesses won’t wash away, and you get rid of the cars. Kind of.
It’s sort of hard to spin rusting hulks with the tourist trade, even if some of the cars are classics. And there’s the chemicals leaking directly into the river as the cars decompose. Devil’s in the details.
The world is strewn with bright ideas. In the 70’s someone thought old tires would make good artificial reefs. The creatures that were supposed to homestead on the tires didn’t, and the tires ended up drifting onto nearby beaches or damaging real reefs. Dang it.
And there’s always the old classics…tapeworms as a diet aid or cocaine as a cure-all. On a personal level I could contribute my entire love life to this list.