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What is this rusted vehicle we found on the site of an old railroad next to a ghost town?

A questioner said:

What is this rusted vehicle we found on the site of an old railroad next to a ghost town?

r/whatisthisthing - What is this rusted vehicle we found on the site of an old railroad next to a ghost town?

More from the qustioner:

All visible markings were rusted out so I couldn’t even really figure out what to search for. The back tires were doubled (like a dually truck) that had very little leftover rubber – so full rubber tires it seems which would mean not a railroad vehicle.

Searches I’ve done have just been around old cars but I think this may have been an old work vehicle? There were no other vehicles on or near the ghost town or general area.

Some of the people opinions on it:

u/nousernameisleftt: “Based on the vegetation I take it this was a mining town?”

u/Copper_Thief: “Tip cart. Best thing about this is, with enough oil you could probably get it to run again.”

u/Kaotus: “My title describes the thing – all visible markings were rusted out so I couldn’t even really figure out what to search for. The back tires were doubled (like a dually truck) that had very little leftover rubber – so full rubber tires it seems which would mean not a railroad vehicle.”

bdzer0: “The spool(s) and lever in the middle looks like winch. This may have been cobbled together from parts and a chassis to serve specific purpose. See a lot of stuff like that in abandoned mining areas.”

HenningGrueneberg: “I think it’s a rock mover. Was the other side of the tray open? It looks as if that tray can be tilted. Like a dump truck. Load up rocks with the winch, drive them over somewhere else, dump them. Probably just to make the shaft of the mine.”

u/useatyourownrisk: “It could have been a snowplow. The plow would have attached to the brackets on the front. A cable would have run from frame of the plow, over the top pulley, to a second pulley (missing) at the back end of the upper frame, and down to the winch to the right of the driver. The back hopper could have been filled with sand and/or salt and provided additional weight to improve traction.”

u/Signal-Pirate-3961: “Possibly a pile driver as well as a dump bed.”

walkawaysux: “Looks like the remains of a track runner. This was used while the tracks are installed to check them out before the train does.”

ProbablyNotUnusual: “Looks like a sluice, used to sift ore using water. This will separate heavier metals from the ore, leaving precious metals such as gold and silver to be collected.”

u/RustyRails78: “Could be a maintenance truck for the railroad. They used to have specialized vehicles for track inspection and repair.”

u/ExploringEchoes: “Looks like a modified ore hauler. The winch and sturdy frame suggest it was used to transport heavy loads, possibly ore or equipment, around mining sites.”

u/GeologyGeek99: “Considering its location near a ghost town, it might have been a water truck. These were essential for dust suppression in dry mining regions.”

u/HistoryHunter24: “Could it have been a makeshift fire truck? In remote mining towns, they often adapted vehicles for firefighting purposes.”

u/UrbanExplorerX: “I’m leaning towards a makeshift rail inspection car. They were improvised from various vehicles to check tracks for damage or obstructions.”

u/BackroadsAdventurer: “Looks like a jury-rigged ore smelter cart. They used to transport raw ore to makeshift smelting sites for processing.”

What do you think? Let us know in the comment!


Explorers and history enthusiasts stumbled upon a remarkable find on the outskirts of a long-forgotten ghost town—a rusted vehicle resting silently beside the remnants of an old railroad track. This discovery has sparked intrigue and curiosity, raising questions about its origins and the stories it holds from a bygone era.

A Glimpse into the Past

The vehicle, now encrusted with rust and partially overtaken by nature, serves as a poignant reminder of a time when bustling railroad tracks connected remote settlements across the country. Its exact make and model, obscured by decades of decay, hint at a period likely spanning the early to mid-20th century—a time when automobiles were beginning to shape the landscape of rural America.

Uncovering Forgotten Narratives

What makes this discovery particularly compelling is its location next to a ghost town. These abandoned settlements, once vibrant hubs of industry or commerce, fell into decline for various reasons—economic shifts, natural disasters, or simply the migration of populations. The presence of the vehicle suggests it may have been left behind during a time of upheaval, adding layers of historical depth to its rusted exterior.

The Role of Railroads in American History

Railroads played a pivotal role in the development and expansion of the United States. They facilitated trade, transported goods and people, and connected isolated communities to broader markets. Alongside these tracks, small towns often flourished, their fates intertwined with the ebb and flow of railroad traffic. The discovery of the vehicle near this forgotten rail line underscores the intertwined histories of transportation and settlement in rural America.

Preservation and Historical Significance

Preserving artifacts like this rusted vehicle is crucial for understanding our collective heritage. Each artifact tells a unique story, offering insights into the daily lives, challenges, and triumphs of those who came before us. By studying and documenting such finds, historians and archaeologists can piece together the puzzle of our past, enriching our understanding of how societies evolve and adapt over time.

Speculations and Hypotheses

While the exact circumstances surrounding the vehicle’s abandonment remain speculative, several hypotheses can be considered. It may have belonged to a local resident or business owner, perhaps a farmer or a small-town entrepreneur. Alternatively, it could have been a traveler’s car, left behind due to mechanical failure or financial hardship during an era of economic uncertainty.

Reflections on Change and Continuity

The juxtaposition of the rusted vehicle against the backdrop of a ghost town invites contemplation on the passage of time and the forces of change that shape communities. It prompts us to reflect on the resilience of rural America, where echoes of past lives linger amidst overgrown fields and weather-beaten structures.

Future Discoveries and Historical Exploration

As interest in historical preservation grows, so too does the likelihood of uncovering more artifacts that offer glimpses into our shared past. Each discovery adds nuance to our understanding of history, encouraging us to appreciate the interconnectedness of people and places across generations.


The rusted vehicle found near an old railroad track and ghost town is more than just a relic of the past; it is a tangible link to the human stories and experiences that have shaped our landscapes. Its discovery reminds us of the importance of preserving and interpreting our historical heritage, ensuring that future generations can continue to learn from and appreciate the rich tapestry of American history.

In exploring this mysterious find, we are not just uncovering artifacts; we are unraveling the threads of history itself, piece by piece, to better understand where we came from and where we might go next.


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