Salvage Yard Ron wraps up rip rap

More on this fascinating flood prevention
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It appears that this Checker Marathon sedan suffered an interior fire prior to being pressed into rip-rap duty. The light blue finish that remains on the front fenders suggests this was a civilian model rather than a taxi. The tethering cable strung through all the vehicles is front and center in this view.

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Story and photos by Ron Kowalke

I vow that this will be my final photo spread devoted to rip rap. Regular readers will recall that I’ve done two previous spreads in recent months on cars used as embankments to channel water.

It’s possible I’ve become obsessed with this unique man-made solution to prevent flooding. I traveled the majority of this nation for decades, and came across only a hint of rip rap. But in my two most recent long-distance road trips since mid-2010, it seems to find me.

I did have help on this stash of cars, which became known to me through casual conversation with a fellow car enthusiast I met as I entered the northeast Texas border last year. The gent said I’d be remiss if I didn’t seek out the bridge located northwest of Canadian, Texas, and look west.

Stretching for several hundred yards are two adjacent columns of mostly 1950s and ’60s cars and pickups, all tethered by thick cable. A bit of a hike is necessary to get a good look at the cars, but it’s worth it.


A once luxurious 1957 Cadillac Series 62 two-door hardtop has not only suffered
from having torrents of water rushing through it, but also from being used as a
stand-in for target practice with a rifle. (Below) Not sure, does a “fin shot” equal
a bull’s eye?

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There are a handful of examples of tri-Chevys among the rip-rap rows, including
this pair of two-door sedans (above and below). Below is a 1955 that’s also been
used for target practice, and left, a ’56 that’s had all of its remaining hinged
panels popped open.

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Several cars are nearly buried from years of sediment flowing through them.
Above, the panoramic roofline of a mid-1960s Buick station wagon remains
above ground. Below, only the chrome rib-edged roof of a 1957 Plymouth
remains visible.

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