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Low water levels uncover old cars in Hyrum Reservoir

HYRUM, Utah — What looks like a graveyard for old cars is showing up along the shore of Hyrum Reservoir.

Low water levels have revealed more than a dozen cars that officials said were dumped there in the 1950s to help strengthen the reservoir’s shoreline.

“The old frames are more visible right now, but they start showing up as soon as the water starts going down,” said Chris Bradshaw, Hyrum Reservoir State Park manager.

Bradshaw said he’s been seeing these old shells of 1950s-era cars for years, adding they were put there around that time, with a practical purpose in mind beyond simply throwing them away.

“My understand is, I don’t know the exact day, but back in the ‘50s they placed a lot of those cars on the north shore to help stabilize that bank,” Bradshaw said.

It’s not exactly a high-tech solution by today’s standards. And while some people might like to see the cars cleaned up, it could cause issues for the area’s geography.

Chris Bradshaw, Hyrum Reservoir State Park manager. (Mike Anderson/KSL TV)

“If they moved them, that may destabilize the bank,” Bradshaw said. “There are new houses that are built above where the cars are at now, and so that may cause them some problems if they moved them at this point.”

In fact, this same thing was done along the Blacksmith Fork River for the same reason.

Around 80 cars were removed from the river in a restoration project in 2013.

(Mike Anderson/KSL TV)

The cost back then to do it safely was around $10 million. But if it’s any consolation, it’s unlikely any engineer would use this method for strengthening a shoreline again.

“I wouldn’t imagine that they would do that today, no,” Bradshaw said.

Hyrum Reservoir is all used for farmer irrigation, so Bradshaw said it’s not unusual for that pile of cars to show up this time of year.

Some of the ones on the north side are higher up the embankment.

“A few of them over the years have worked their way down below the high-water mark and to varying degrees, they show up when the water goes down,” Bradshaw said. “All the locals, all the fishermen know it’s there. They refer to it as the car pile. It’s a fishing landmark, really … habitat when the water’s all the way up.”

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