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legome

I love big old rusty things

I have some really weird tastes and hobbies. I'm aware of this. This weekend, I got to indulge in another on my stranger ones: my love affair with big creepy dead machines.

I don't know what the draw is, to be honest. But show me a tractor rotting away in a field, weeds growing up through the spokes in the wheels, and I'm a happy guy. I like to tour old mines and places like that, to see all the gigantic equipment, quietly rusting away in a dark corner. I could spend hours in a junkyard; I even dawdle at U-Pull-It when I go get parts for my car. I don't want to see the wrecked ones, but I love the old cars that just plain wore out and now are enjoying a well-deserved rest.

Over the years I have been lucky enough to see some real beauties: the abandoned gold mines and ghost towns of central Colorado, an airplane graveyard in Kansas, and the mother lode (so to speak): the Quincy copper mine in Hancock, Michigan, home of the world's largest steam hoist engine. The big drum in the middle spins and pulls a cable up and down the mine shaft, to put miners in and bring copper out, at over 30 miles per hour (!). This thing is HUGE, and the building it's housed in is a wonderful old crumbly concrete structure that looks more like a cathedral than part of a mine. And the entire grounds of the place is littered with hunks of junk, gently returning to the minerals from which they were made.

This weekend, however, I may have found a new favorite Big Old Rusty Thing: the Peter Iredale, a British sailing ship that ran aground near Astoria, Oregon in 1906 and has been sitting there ever since. She was a huge iron thing, with four masts, and when she washed up on the beach, she became an instant tourist attraction.

There's not much left of her now, and most of what is left is buried in the silt. From the sounds of it, at high tide, she's completely underwater. But we were there when the tide was fairly low, though not all the way out, so she sat there right at the water's edge, with the occasional wave lapping around her rusty prow and washing over the stumps of her masts. It was creepy, and somehow wonderful, to stand near one of those stumps and imagine her keel buried several feet in the sand below my feet. I ran my fingers over the crinkly surface of her bow, chuckling to myself that this might be the only chance I'll ever get to walk up to a shipwreck and touch it.

I don't know why I love stuff like this so much, but I really do. I don't have any morbid fascination with wrecks, or scenes of accidents, or anything like that, just the stuff that was abandoned, because it wore out, became obsolete, or (like the Peter Iredale) just ended up stuck someplace. Part of me wants to research these things, and find out if there are any other semi-famous Big Old Rusty Things I should see before the earth reclaims them for good. Rust never sleeps, after all. Anyone have any suggestions?

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