Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Concrete Proof.

All of the time I spent reading those Hardy Boy books as a kid paid off last weekend! I did some super sleuthing, and made a very interesting automotive discovery. Okay, so it's a bit of a stretch to call it automotive, but it was close. And it is also a bit of a stretch to say that it was sleuthing, as I was given the approximate location of the vehicle, but it still felt like a bit of an adventure.
My new auto-obsessed friend, Antoine, who has more cars and stories than anyone I know, told me about a few old car and truck wrecks in the area. One legend that particularly caught my attention was of a dump truck that had slid off a winding road and rolled to the bottom of a steep hill. At the time (decades ago), it was deemed too expensive to try and have it removed, so it was left to rot away. He didn't mention what had happened to the driver, so I want to assume that he got out okay.
After hearing this story, I knew that I would have to go and check it out, especially since it was only about 30 kms away. The following day was a sunny Sunday, and I was happy to have an excuse to go on a little automotive-related mission. Antoine had given me the approximate location, at the end of a twisty road that runs up a very steep hill just after the village of Vezaponin.
(As an aside, this just so happenes to be along a stretch of my favourite road, which I have written about previously: My Favourite Road blog entry...)
At the very top of the hill I was able to park, and walked back down to scan for the truck. The trees and undergrowth were so thick that I was sure I wouldn't find it, but after a few passes up and down a flash of yellow way down at the bottom of the ravine in the first big corner caught my eye. Forget a pot of gold, I had found the yellow cement truck of Vezaponin!

It was there. And looked impossible to get to. Just behind the guardrail the hill was nearly vertical; there was no way to climb down without climbing gear. I found a little path a few hundred meters away, and headed down hoping to be able to loop back. No such luck. The trees and brambles and thorns were so thick that there was absolutely no way to get through. I hesitated leaving, but wasn't willing to give up.
I went back down the road to where I could see the truck. The path straight down was clear enough, but it was going to be difficult to get a foothold. A few small, well-placed trees looked promising, so I started half climbing, half sliding my way down, grabbing tree after tree (much like a monkey, I have to admit) to slow my descent. I pictured myself falling to the bottom and breaking my leg, and wasn't convinced that there was cell-phone service at the bottom of the ravine to call for help. The bottle of water and pack of gum in my pockets wasn't really going to help me survive months stranded at the bottom, so I knew that I had to be careful.
In the end it was less dramatic than I pictured, and I got to level ground with only a few scrapes. I had to push my way through some more trees and thorns, but there it was, in front of me.
The cement truck had apparently been there for several decades, which was believable considering the state of it. The tumble down the hill had twisted the cab to to the point that it was nearly unrecognizable, but the huge rear cement drum was more or less intact. At some point someone had come and removed the drivetrain, as no trace of the engine, transmission, or wheels was left.
After close inspection I could make out the remains of the drivers seat and the dashboard. I could also see some of the roof and the door panels, and bits of the front end, bent under the rest of the cab. I could make out an 'H' logo in a star, but did not recognize it. A quick bit of research revealed that it belonged to Henschel, a German manufacturer that built heavy trucks (including cement trucks) from the early 1900s up until the end of the early 1970s, when the truck division was purchased and absorbed by Daimler-Benz. It is not clear exactly which model this poor yellow wreck was, but it would appear that it was probably a Hanomag-Henschel, perhaps from the late 60's or early 70's. The truck was so damaged that I couldn't positively identify the model, but my best guess is that it looked something like this, but with a cement mixer on the back:
There is something interesting about seeing this cement truck slowly rusting away. It will take a very long time, but eventually it will disappear into the ground. Only a few bits of plastic and glass will remain as a trace of this yellow monster. It was easier than I expected to get back up the hill; I retraced my steps and pulled myself up using the trees.
I can't wait to go see Antoine and show him these pictures! With luck he'll know of another treasure hunt I can head out on! I was tempted to take a souvenir, but decided against it in the end. The truck isn't mine, and it's best to leave it untouched for the next automotive adventurer who wants to rediscover this wreck.

1 comment:

  1. Anyone else know of any hidden wrecks near them?


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