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Crews find dozens of old heaps at Mammoth Track

August 10, 2012

Crews working at the site of the new Mammoth Track have run into just about the last thing they expected.
While leveling the ground for the all-purpose track, they unearthed what appears to have been Mammoth’s first-ever experiment in underground parking. It’s as good an explanation as anything else.

Dozens of old cars, mostly dating from the 40s, 50s and early 60s, lay buried in a stack that runs the entire length of what will be a full-length Olympic-sized track.

No one knows how they got there.

“It’s kind of a big hole,” deadpanned Public Works Director Ray Jarvis.

“We haven’t been able to track down any old-timers to try to find out how they got there.”

Jarvis said the car graveyard had no particular gems in it, save for a 1930s-era car.

“It looked like it was a collector’s car, collected in the 1950s,” he said. He said the crews turned up some interesting old license plates, too. Beyond that, though, there were just stacks of rusted-out vehicles.

In his spare time, Jarvis said, he dug out some aerial photos, but the oldest ones he could find were made in 1973, and all looked hunky-dory at the site, even 39 years ago.

“It must have been something Mono County was doing,” he said with a shrug.

Jarvis said work crews had to extract 12 to 15 heaps from the hole in the ground, but there are many more.

“We only pulled out the cars that were in the way of the track,” he said. “Everything else we just left there.”

The question came up as to what the town will do with the old vehicles now. One idea, he said, is to sell the steel for scrap.

“We ought to be able to get something for it,” he said.

And it wasn’t just a graveyard for vehicles, either.

It may strain the memories of the middle-agers among us moderns, but there was a time when beers were called “Schlitz” (when you’re out of Schlitz, you’re out of beer), “Hamm’s” (the beer refreshing!)” and West Coast brews such as Olympia.

To prove it, all you have to do is go down to the track and see for yourself.

“There was a lot more stuff in there than just cars,” Jarvis said. There are hundreds upon hundreds of old beer cans with long dead brands, some accessible only by a church key, others that opened with the short-lived pull-tab.

“And there was just a lot of random stuff,” Jarvis said.

But it was the draw of the cars—and their license plates—that stole the show.

Underground parking in Mammoth? Been there. Done that.

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