Protecting the Beauty of the Abandoned

Several years ago, I heard about an old bus abandoned in the northern part of Land Between The Lakes.  Left there in the 1960s when TVA moved everyone out of the future 170,000-acre national recreation area, it had largely remained untouched for several decades.

The old dashboard still has its gauges.

The old rusty bus was popular among geocachers in LBL, who are largely mindful of the “leave no trace” mentality.  I wanted to visit the site – known as Homer’s Garage among geocaching enthusiasts – and present the historical relic and its accompanying story on Four Rivers Explorer.

Yellow paint peels off a dry-rotted seal in a window.

Quite unfortunately, shortly after my write-up appeared on this site, vandals took the opportunity to spray paint the entire bus.  I supposed the long-graffitied-up “Hotel California” wasn’t enough for these morons to deface history.

The inside of the bus appears to have old mattresses placed inside, perhaps used as a shelter decades ago.

So, after hearing about yet another bus in Land Between The Lakes (supposedly, there are several), I wanted to explore it and soak in the beauty of the abandoned.

The back of the bus.

What makes Land Between The Lakes so interesting is all the untold stories of the left-behind homes, foundations, cars, buses, whatever remains out there.  They all have a unique history.  And while some may find the dilapidated state of these rust buckets and man-made structures heartbreaking, I find them simply amazing.

The engine is still there along with some of the spark plugs.

It’s because they represent a completely different time from where we are today.  They speak of countless untold stories about how those things got there and who put them there.  When you’re in the woods and see these things, it really is like stepping back 60 or 70 years to a time when running water was a luxury and smartphones weren’t even thought of.

The old steering wheel.

Finding this bus and seeing its perfect state of decay, I was delighted it hadn’t been painted up like some of the other historical items found in LBL.  While it appeared to be used as a shelter decades ago, several aspects of the early 1950s Ford school bus were still intact.

To protect this awesome piece of history, I will not disclose its location.  In fact, I’ve decided that most of the historical things I find in LBL and present on Four Rivers Explorer will not reveal the spot.  And that’s unfortunate, honestly, because I have an itch to present these things and share their stories.

But I want to protect the beauty of the abandoned – and it starts with this old school bus.

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