Boneyard: Rusty Metal Machines & Nullified Neon Signs

Image courtesy of U.S. Federal Government

Image courtesy of U.S. Federal Government

Boneyards are strange and often fascinating places, where yesterday’s cutting-edge technology rusts away until the time comes for it to be turned into Coke cans.  The process can take years, during which time boneyards may amass all manner of junk – and some of it definitely not what you’d expect…  Even more impressive is when some of this “junk” is eventually reused for highly explosive purposes that will literally blow your mind!
Images by Bob Jagendorf

Images by Bob Jagendorf

The pictures show the Staten Island boneyard, where several old vessels languish semi-submerged offshore.  One of them is the famed Staten Island ferry that has appeared in countless films, including The Dark Knight, and is a well known sight in New York Harbor.  This corroding vessel is one of several redundant ferries in a fleet that has been tooing-and-froing New Yorkers between Staten Island and the city in one form or another since the 1700s.  The cruise liner (left) is the SS United States, built in 1952 and operated until 1969.  Despite appearances, the ship is said to be in sound condition and continues to boast the coveted Blue Riband, previously held by the British.  Various groups have pledged to refurbish the SS United States, perhaps even return it to service.

Desert Aircraft Boneyards

Images by PhillipC

Images by PhillipC

The most famous desert boneyards can be found in Arizona.  This dusty moonscape is the final resting place for many military and civilian planes.  The hot dry climate creates perfect conditions to store surplus aircraft that may one day be revived and used again.  The faded metal machines lining the desert floor in their thousands make up an “air force” to rival many on the planet.  The mighty B-52 bomber (bottom right) has probably been loitering here since the end of the Vietnam War.  (Here’s one of the not-so-lucky ones: after years providing spare parts to the active fleet of F-14s, this former Top Gun is about to be shredded.)

Davis Monthan, Arizona

Images by omnibus

Images by omnibus

Arizona’s biggest and most famous boneyard, Davis Monthan Air Force Base, is a place like no other.  Home to around 4,000 surplus military machines, all of them inventoried and numerically identifiable, this is where the U.S. government sends its warplanes when their flying days are over.  Many will be scrapped after lying silent for years, others cannibalised for parts.  But some have a far more fiery fate in store for them.  The F-4 Phantom (above, top left and bottom right) is one of the most successful warplanes ever built, and is set to be honoured for its achievements by flying one final mission as a target drone to be blown out of the sky during missile firing trials.  It almost makes this sunken Phantom wreck seem like a lucky survivor.

Images by Webbaliah

Images by Webbaliah

The white latex (above right) covering the jet’s air vents, canopy, intakes and panel joins helps keep moisture out of all the nooks and crannies, limiting problems brought on by corrosion.  Combined with the dry heat of the fearsome desert sun, it explains why these Cold War warriors can be brought back to life after years of storage.  But for the battered jet at bottom right, the word “Rescue” looks somewhat ironic today.

Middle Eastern Boneyard

Images by jonmallard

Images by jonmallard

The spoils of war!  Here’s a slightly different and certainly more redundant boneyard resident.  This captured MiG-21 has taken a battering over the years, and today looks more like a rusting trophy for the American soldier taking a break beneath its tail fin.  For this old MiG, the flying days are definitely over.  (View more abandoned Soviet hardware from Iraq to Russia.)

Neon Bonyard

Image by Lord Jim

Image by Lord Jim

Images by Lord Jim

Images by Lord Jim

Even glitzy neon signs are eventually scrapped and recycled. It’s hard to image that these bright and gaudy specimens that once lined the boardwalk or hung above some roadside diner could end up amongst the rubbish.  But Lord Jim’s images show how they can still look cool in abandonment.  With the sunlight beaming down and the neon lighting turned off, the yellow duck looks positively hypnotised.

Image by Elsie esq.

Image by Elsie esq.

Image by lawrence laulch

Image by lawrence baulch

Images by vitalyzator

Images by vitalyzator

Finally, abandoned trains are a stalwart feature of many a proud boneyard.  Their sheer size and weight means they can sustain years and neglect – not to mention provide valuable amounts of scrap metal.  These proud machines lie derelict at the end of an arduous life and a job well done.  It’s possible some of them might be renovated by museums, but for most this is an unlikely prospect.

Related Articles:
Abandoned Aircraft, Airfields, Airbases and Airport Terminals
Abandoned Railways, Trains, Stations, Tunnels and Bridges
Desert Oddity: Lost Aircraft of the Mojave

 

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