Forgotten Wrecking Yard Liquidation!

putnams-junkyard

I’m sure many of you, like me, have fond memories of wondering around salvage yards, looking at all the rusty relics. Sadly, many of these yards have closed and what ever was left over was simply crushed and sent off to be recycled. Well our buddies over at Grandinetti’s Metal Recycling in Iowa recently reached out to us about a yard that they have been tasked with clearing out. Rather than just crushing everything, they have decided to try and find good homes for as many of these cars as possible! There’s at least a thousand cars here (likely more), many of which are still buried deep in the forest that has grown up around them over the past 20 years. You can find more information about what they are calling Putnam’s Last Stand here on Facebook.

putnams-junkyard-3

So how did this salvage yard come to be? At the end of WWII a young Lee Putnam returned home from the European theater. He saw a need for a wrecking and auto body business in the area, so he started the Auto Body Company. As we’ve seen with many wrecking businesses, his yard became the resting place for abandoned and broke down cars that had no where else to go. He managed to accumulated vehicles from the 1930s all the way up to the ’70s.

putnams-junkyard-2

Some cars were completely parted out, while others are still intact. While sitting outside in Iowa wasn’t the best thing, I see quite a few cars that could still be restored. Most are just parts donors at this point, that’s alright though, at least they will be helping keep other cars on the road. There’s a lot of parts here, which will be sold by the pound. So if you need trim pieces or hard to find bits, this might be a great chance to pick them up cheap!

putnams-garage

I want to thank our friends at Grandinetti’s for taking on the monumental task. It would be much easier and quicker to just crush and scrap everything, but they want to see Mr. Putnam’s collection put to good use. So if you happen to be in the Burlington area from November 5th through the 20th, be sure to stop by 2640 Florence Avenue to see if they have anything you need. Heck, just stop by to take a look around! I could easily spend an entire day here taking in all the sights.

putnams-junkyard-torino

Also, be sure to keep an eye on Grandinetti’s Facebook wall for new photos of the most recent cars to be uncovered! Just be aware that nothing will be sold before the 5th. So who’s going to be making a trip to Burlington to see Putnam’s Last Stand in person?

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Comments

  1. MH

    Some really neat cars in there. Most look like junk sadly.

    Like 2
  2. RicK

    Looks like he kept the Ramblers under cover, and let other more valuable makes rot out in the weather, weird!

    Like 1
    • Dovi65

      Easy does it there, Rick .. Rambler lives matter! If I had the space, I’d take in a few of the Ramblers

      • Kevin Member

        Here’s one at a private yard among 650 other cars in western Sioux County, Iowa. It’s a Hurst 440. I thought it odd that it has a 6 cylinder. I have 6 pictures taken a year ago. I priced a few cars and wonder if he ever sells anything, the prices way too high. He says he has titles for everything. There are several AMC’s. I have his phone number.

  3. Pete

    Too bad its th e other side of the country. I saw 2 or 3 of interest.

  4. RoughDiamond RoughDiamond Member

    So many cool old cars. Those sitting directly on top of or buried in the ground will most likely be toast. It sure would be nice if the owners of these huge yards would sell some of the nicer vehicles “before” they are close to junk status. Hopefully some that are still above ground can be rescued and even put back on the road.

    • Brian Teed

      You need a special license to sell an entire car. Most salvage yards don’t have one.

  5. boxdin

    Some very nice photos from an artistic view.

  6. Paul Nutter

    Would be helpful if there was an inventory of the cars….and an annotation of condition.

  7. D Grass

    Will take some photos if I can make it, this is in my neck of the woods.

    • David Mercer

      What state?

      • Kevin Member

        The great state of Iowa. Iowa farmers literally feed the world!

      • leiniedude leiniedude Member

        Well Kevin, I have to include the great State of Wisconsin. The only place in the US that makes Limburger cheese! Monroe. Wis. Take care my fellow Ag Dude! Mike.

  8. Jim

    So cool, wish we had places like that out here in CA. I love walking through wrecking yards that have old cars instead of the run of the mill “pick ur parts” that have nothing but late model crap. I’m trying to get rid of just what little stuff I have and it’s a chore, this would give me an anxiety attack.

  9. Glen

    I’m afraid to think how many of these cars are going to end up crushed. I sure hope people show up and save these.

  10. Jim

    I never will understand the concept of stacking cars on top of other cars when you have his much land. The other tragedy is a tractor used to clear an acre or so could have easily afforded Mr. Putman to organize these cars for parts use or sale prior to his death. Just to bad, I see this all the time. Wonder if the entire junk yard with land/buildings, etc is for sale ??

  11. ccrvtt

    Most of the major religions would teach us that cars are inanimate objects, that they have no souls. But we car nuts know better, of course, and we see here a congregation of the retirees. This looks more like shady acres rest home than a junkyard, a bunch of old ladies and men hanging out together. Their days of utility are long behind them with no more kids to drive to school or family vacations to Myrtle Beach. No more boring trips to work or getting stuck in the snow and burning up the transmissions. That Rambler Country Club Coupe was quite a cutie in her day and that young girl still lives inside the soul of the machine. Thanks to the owners for taking such a sensitive approach to the liquidation. And thanks to Barnfinds for bringing these images to us.

    Like 1
    • AutoArcheologist

      Amen Brother!!

  12. Blindmarc

    Jim, they did. I worked at one in the early 90’s in riverside county. A little town called Pedley. It was off of van buren and limonite.

    • Jim

      Any more of them out here in CA that you know of that will let people in the yard to just roam around and find stuff to buy ? I might even be interested in buying an existing wrecking yard with the land but would prefer mostly 60’s and 70’s era vehicles.

  13. Jeff Lavery Staff

    Good Lord, they have a LOT of inventory to get through.

  14. tberd62

    You should visit John at Big M Automotive salvage yard in Williams, Ca.
    All 50 and 60’s cars

    • ChuckF

      Big M is the one you can see from I5. It is really wonderful and could use everyone’s support to stay open!

  15. Coventrycat

    I miss yards like that. Even as junk, the quality of some parts really show in while the rest of the car decays around them. Real glass tail lamp lenses, enameled badges, knobs and switches made of pot metal – but chromed, right next to a tube radio with a chrome grill. No plastic. Today’s cars all look the same, and look soulless in a modern yard.

    Like 1
  16. Joe Howell

    I love places like this, lots were around 30-40 years ago.

  17. larry

    I’m about 2 hours away maybe I should head down. Check out the parts.

    • Josh Mortensen Staff

      If you do Larry, be sure to let us know! Oh and be sure to take photos!

  18. Gary K

    As a true gearhead growing up in the 50’s and 60’s we all can relate to the good ole days roaming thru the aisles of old iron, looking for that hopefully good starter or generator or steel rim to replace the bent one, or maybe the radio we need to replace the broken one in Dad’s ’55 Chevy, for me good times and best times spent with Dad.
    @ Jim… Just north of Bakersfield and off US99 in a little town of Pixley, they had a wrecking yard with lots of 60’s and earlier stuff, It has been a few years since I was thru there so you might try a search as I am not sure if they are still open for business. I have been to Big M in Williams, great little yard of cars they have. Good luck with your search.

  19. angliagt

    Jim,

    Try Last Mile Auto Wreckers,in Upper Lake,CA,
    on Highway 20,about 20 miles East of Ukiah.All kinds
    of stuff from the ’50’s on up.
    They close at 2PM on Saturday,& are closed
    on Sunday.

  20. angliagt

    The third car on the right side (in the first picture),
    looks like a 4 door Cortina MKII.

  21. RoughDiamond RoughDiamond Member

    Google Old Car City U.S.A. in GA. Hope to make the trip this fall season. A buddy of mine went through it and said “we” have to go back. They do charge an admission fee, one for taking pictures and one without. They have commercialized it, but who can blame them? If you want to see something hilarious, hit youtube up for their theme song.

    • Eric Dashman

      Been there, done that. A buddy of mine from Atlanta and I drove up to see it. I don’t recall why, but we were only allowed to walk around the front area and not go deep into the woods to see all that was there. Frankly, it was a novelty show and not a junk yard. If you do google it and see the pictures, you can see that almost all of the stuff is completely trashed from the decades in the weather and lack of care. As a car lover and gearhead, it was painful and not nearly as much fun as we had hoped.

  22. Howard A Member

    I agree with Jim, I just don’t understand how yards get like this. Cars all askew and no order whatsoever, turned, stacked, just not the way I’d do it. And even if you find something, good luck getting it out. Don’t get me wrong, I love walking through yards like this, but not to buy anything, ( maybe a cool hood ornament) just for the memories of certain cars. Again, aside from a few exceptions, very few people need trim for a 58 Rambler, or a gas cap door for a Studebaker. It’s fun to talk about these places, and what could be, but in reality, there’s a reason these yards are disappearing, nobody wants the stuff, and that is really sad, end of an era, kind of.

    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      Well my first gig was at a Boneyard. When you are in the business they are just parts. I agree they could have had a better sorting method. Some yards just do not give a rats ass. We have some cool yards here, old stangs and so on. I agree Howard, it is only people like us that are intrigued with those pieces and unfortunately we are checking out faster than we like. I am sad to agree, end of an era. And us. Take care, Mike.

      • Glen

        Does anyone know of junkyards near Mississippi that ha late 40s to early 50s GMC trucks?

  23. Bruce

    The reason these old yards get cleaned up is because of EPA regulations. The old owner was “grandfathered” , so they could keep going. When these cars were retired here they were pulled to a spot and left to rot away unless a few parts could be sold. None of the fluids were drained, and as time goes on they start leaking, and THAT is where the trouble begins. Anyone buying this hoard of cars would then be liable for any clean up costs.
    How do I know this ??? A friend and I tried buying a similar lot with about 1100 cars from the 40’s to the early 90’s. We had the backing, we had a plan. The owner was 86 years old, tough as nails & hard headed. He kept us on a string but would never quite pull the trigger, so we waited & waited. He died, so we approached the family. We were told that EPA stepped in and said if they crushed off the whole place that would be the end of it and they could keep the “crush money”, if they sold it, EPA would be back to do soil samples and the new owner would be liable. Long story short…It got crushed.

  24. nessy

    I am pretty sure there was a story on this yard in Cars and Parts magazine sometime back, 20 years or more. The top photo showing the cars from up in the air looks almost exactly like the photo that was in the magazine except some of the trees are now larger. I remember seeing that split rear window 30’s car in the photo. It sure looks like the same yard. I would like to just walk around this place.

  25. Kevin Member

    Damn, these cars are in my state but 7-8 hours away. I could spend days just taking pictures.

    There are still some places left like this in Iowa and I know of 3 just across the border in South Dakota. One south of Marion, SD has a half section of cars 1930’s to 1990’s but he’ll shoot on sight and NO ONE can enter for any reason, because of past thievery. He’s decided to crush everything. Last visit a few months ago he wouldn’t even sell me a fiberglass S10 topper!

    Another is currently in business, Oakleaf Auto Salvage west of Sioux Falls and south of Hartford just off I-90. I have dozens of pictures taken a couple years ago. They have a website and have 1930’s to 1970’s mostly domestic vehicles but also some obscure foreign (and domestic for that matter).

    The third is 17 miles from me, a private yard 99% GM from a 1939 Pontiac to newer but mostly 1950’s and 1960’s Chevy cars and pickups, guessing 400 vehicles. He’s a personal friend who has no computer nor smart phone, just a land line. And yes, most are for sale. He said everything has a title. He inherited his passed away brother’s VW collection and literally hates that stuff. A Facebook ‘friend’ of mine from Ohio I recently brought there bought several 1960’s VW’s. I cleaned out his motorcycles. I have dozens of pictures. If anyone is interested, just holler at me.

  26. Brian

    This story reminds me of Hidden Valley Auto Wrecking. They sold out to housing developers in 2006 and decided to crush all of the inventory that they weren’t taking with them to their new location. Many of us got together and determined to buy certain vehicles from them but they would accept no less than $5,000 per vehicle. Outrageous! So everything got crushed. So pointless.

    • Kevin Member

      Pretty much the same with Arndt’s on the far east side of Sioux Falls, SD. The location has been developed. I remember when they were at least a mile from the city. Maybe 10 years ago Sioux Falls was named in the top 10 best places to live in the US. They shouldn’t have done that as shortly after, gang violence and illegal drug activity exponentially increased. It’s still a nice place even though the population has doubled since I was in high school 40 years ago. The bigger the city the less I’d want to live there. I live on an Iowa farm 5 miles from my home town of 3,500. PERFECT place to raise a family. I can’t understand why people would ever want to live in a big city (20,000 +).

  27. Hitman

    I’m trying to remember the location of a yard I drove past a few years back in west Colorado, dry and dusty, just perfect conditions for cars & pick ups to last forever, sadly I didn’t have the time to stop for a good look.
    Best guess is mid way between Moab, UT and Telluride, CO… sorry I know its a big area to go looking in, just remember it being off any of the main Highways. (Hick ville!!!)

    • Kevin Member

      Probably snakes? Nasty snakes! Thankfully, we have no venomous snakes here in the upper Midwest. I’m not including western South Dakota…..yikes, rattlers!

      Best to search from above? Google Earth or Bing Maps, I use the latter most.

  28. Woodie Man

    There are some great cars there…what a shame……

  29. Kiwijeff

    Please don’t crush the Hudson’s.

  30. Art d Member

    I know everyone all ready knows this but in what state is this place in?

  31. ben

    thers a yard in north fla were u can sometimes buy a part or whole car then at times depending on the owners mood he wont sell u a thing a lot of old muscle cars and caddies chevys poncos no mopars but hes very hard to deal with at times outher times hes ok

    • Kevin in Iowa Member

      There’s a yard similar to that about 50 miles west of me in South Dakota. I used to be able to buy tidbits, motorcycles and snowmobiles. It covers about 200 acres and has no fences. A couple years ago I stopped by but had to wait on the gravel road for the owner to come home. He pulled up and by the look on his face I knew I should NOT have stopped. I re-introduced myself as it had been over 10 years. He wanted none of that. He said, Yard Is CLOSED forever! No fences and gone alot = thievery and he’s sick of it. He pulled out his pistol, waved in the air and said if he catches anyone on the property…….. Wow, freaked me out. I can’t blame him but what a shame as he says he’s crushing everything, mostly 1940’s to 1980’s. Look on Google maps, find Marion, South Dakota then go south 4 miles and 1 mile east to the intersection of 448th Ave and 278th St. Not sure how old the map is but he still has a few vehicles, about half of what he had 10 years ago.

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