Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Hunt for the Auto

 The car.....the car.....where, oh where was that car?

Gorgeous flower fields

I'd rambled around the upper bluffs of the Dalles Mountain Ranch, and explored the old homestead with it's preserved barns and ancient farming equipment.  (If you missed that post read all about it here.)  But I'd still yet to find the ancient auto.

Peek a boo barn

Many online descriptions of the Dalles Mountain Ranch mentioned a decaying automobile long ago abandoned in a field of flowers.  It's rusting hulk in such a beautiful setting made for some scenic photos - a favorite subject of many area photographers.  After viewing several people's images online, I knew I had to find that car.

Yellow slopes

However, easier said than done.  The people who posted online reports didn't offer many concrete clues as to the car's location.  And the Dalles Mountain ranch covers a huge area.  About all I came up with was that it was located "near the buildings," and from glimpsing photographs, I determined it was close to a fence.  But there were a lot of fences out here.  Would I be searching for a needle in the haystack?

Balsamroot bloom

But I had to give it a shot, and crossed the main road opposite the old homestead and plunged into more flower-filled fields.  The amount of bloom was staggering.  Bright balsamroot flowers colored the rolling hills yellow, stretching for miles in all directions.  It was as if someone had taken a huge paintbrush to the fields.

Another scenic fence

The fields were lined with an incredible amount of fencing.  I know this area used to be a cattle ranch, and I'm sure the fences were left over from those days.  However, I didn't mind.  The old, wooden posts made fantastic subjects.

One more scenic fence

I followed well-worn user paths through the flower fields.  Although no car came into sight, I thoroughly enjoyed myself taking photos of the flowers and fences.  Along with the balsamroot, bright purple lupine added to the palette.  The hills, dressed in their neon spring green, ambled down as far as the eye could see, all the way to the Columbia River.

Lots of purple lupine here

After spending quite a bit of time in my photo endeavors, I looked across a draw to another large field.  I spotted a small group of people walking along a fenceline.  Watching the group for several minutes, they seemed to linger in one particular spot.  Could that be the place?

Found it!

I had to check it out.  Returning to my car, I drove closer to this field.  After squeezing through a gate, I trekked up a small hill.  The concentration of balsamroot and lupine was quite thick, overgrowing a very faint path through the flowers.  And then, topping the ridge, I looked down into another fenced field......and there was the car!

This car has seen better days

It was as scenic as the internet pictures depicted.  The car's orange, rusty hulk lay partially buried in a huge field of balsamroot.  The car, which I think was an old Studebaker, looked as though it had been there for some time.  All it's windows were broken out, the interior gutted, and the steel body slowly deteriorating.

Broken window

But, oh the photo ops!

Vivid purple lupine flowers

I spent quite awhile photographing the prize I'd sleuthed to find.  Not only this abandoned auto, but the flowers were especially thick and vibrant here.  Truly a magical place!

Yellow was everywhere

My trip to the Dalles Mountain Ranch was a resounding success.  Not only did I hit the bloom at prime time, I found a wealth of history in an old homestead, and successfully located the rusty car, a favorite subject of photographers throughout the PNW.

Lovely final resting place

There's still a few more photos to share from the day's trip.  After leaving the Dalles Mountain Ranch, I checked out some petroglyphs at nearby Horsethief Butte State Park, and then crossed to the Oregon side of the Gorge to take in more amazing sights on the Mosier Plateau.  Stay tuned!

Due to the large amount of fence shots in this post, I just have to share with Good Fences.


  1. Linda, I love the rusty old car and the gorgeous field of flowers.. Your photos are awesome! What a great day for you and your camera!

  2. LOVE your shots of the rusty old car amongst the lupine and balsamroot!

  3. Fantastic photography! As you get older you won't remember where you parked your car at the mall. :)

  4. Spectacular! Yes, this is truly a magical place. What a great photo opportunity, especially with all the flowers in addition to the rusty car.

  5. I may have had better days, but did it ever look better?

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  6. Beautiful place! Look forward to the petroglyphs.

  7. That car could almost have been left there as an attraction for photographers. Your photos are fantastic. I just love the yellows and the blues of those wild flowers.

  8. Amazing place! I love all the lupine and balsamroot...and those rolling green hills take my breath away! Love!

  9. hi, linda w! gosh, these are just GORGEOUS shots! perfect place, perfect timing, perfect photography.

    thank you for linking in!

  10. What a wonderful vast expanse off colour from the flowers. Your perserverance paid off when you found the car. I love it it and I am not surprised that people go to find it and photograph it. All your shots are fantastic in this post.

  11. That is quite the photo opportunity with the car and the fantastic flowers. Wonderful shots!

  12. You have quite the eye for photography.. Your images are always wonderful and these are no exception. I love your fence images and those of the car.. you're also a great sleuth!
    Thanks for sharing your awesome adventure.

  13. What a neat old rusty car, Linda! Lovely photos.

  14. Each photo is spectacular! I am glad that it took you a while to find the car otherwise we wouldn't have seen these lovely pictures!

  15. HI Linda, While I'm still buried in white, you are literally walking through a wonderland of wildflowers! The Arnica and Lupine will be some of the first to bloom here at altitude, though still not for a month if this snow continues. That rusted car was a worthy sleuthing objective! What a scene among the spring spectacle.

  16. This was almost as much fun as being there looking for it myself. What superb captures, you shot. Lucky you.

  17. Lots of great photo ops here Linda! Beautiful photography!

  18. Oh WOWIE ZOWIE. I LOVE these photos. I wish I lived closer. Great captures Linda.


  19. Absolutely FABULOUS shots. Wow I had no idea this even existed. Loved all your beautiful shots.

  20. Beautiful photos Linda. I'd love to hear the story on how that car came to be abandoned there.

    I wonder if there's a geocache hidden there???

  21. Reward for your persistence. Awesome shots - the car, fences, gold of the balsam root and purple of lupine. Just love them!

  22. Your perseverance paid off! What lovely photos you go. They are just gorgeous.

  23. How fun~ and absolutely gorgeous scenery.

  24. I still can't get over those fields of flowers. I wouldn't mind this being my final resting place either.

  25. What a lovely carpet of flowers. That car must be real old. Agree with Andy, I always forget where I parked my car outside the mall.

  26. These are amazing photos! Excellent!

  27. Great find! Love the photos of the old car and flowers. It's fun to find what you are looking for.

  28. Love the photos! History is really fascinating, especially its artifacts. That rusted car really reminds you of the fragility of things, like how they can only be around for so long. Might as well make those fine times at the road count. Then again, there's always a new ride you can hop into. However, it pays to see that kind of endpoints, since they're quite a find.

    Sarah Erwin @ Baldwin Subaru

  29. What can I say, seriously gorgeous compositions! What a great spot to wander.

  30. The best looking "litter" I've seen in a long time. Tom The Backroads Traveller

  31. I am in love with your photos!!! Can you give me a better description of were the car is? It said you got back in the car & drove up to a fence. Do you know about how far you walked to get to it from your car, miles? The reason I am asking is because my wedding is in May & I wanted to take some photos in a wildflower field. I think the addition to a car would be absolutely perfect! if you can email me if you have any addl info at that would be awesome!


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