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Crews working at the site of the new Mammoth Track have run into just about the last thing they expected.
While leveling the ground for the all-purpose track, they unearthed what appears to have been Mammothâ€™s first-ever experiment in underground parking. Itâ€™s as good an explanation as anything else.
Dozens of old cars, mostly dating from the 40s, 50s and early 60s, lay buried in a stack that runs the entire length of what will be a full-length Olympic-sized track.
No one knows how they got there.
â€śItâ€™s kind of a big hole,â€ť deadpanned Public Works Director Ray Jarvis.
â€śWe havenâ€™t been able to track down any old-timers to try to find out how they got there.â€ť
Jarvis said the car graveyard had no particular gems in it, save for a 1930s-era car.
â€śIt looked like it was a collectorâ€™s car, collected in the 1950s,â€ť he said. He said the crews turned up some interesting old license plates, too. Beyond that, though, there were just stacks of rusted-out vehicles.
In his spare time, Jarvis said, he dug out some aerial photos, but the oldest ones he could find were made in 1973, and all looked hunky-dory at the site, even 39 years ago.
â€śIt must have been something Mono County was doing,â€ť he said with a shrug.
Jarvis said work crews had to extract 12 to 15 heaps from the hole in the ground, but there are many more.
â€śWe only pulled out the cars that were in the way of the track,â€ť he said. â€śEverything else we just left there.â€ť
The question came up as to what the town will do with the old vehicles now. One idea, he said, is to sell the steel for scrap.
â€śWe ought to be able to get something for it,â€ť he said.
And it wasnâ€™t just a graveyard for vehicles, either.
It may strain the memories of the middle-agers among us moderns, but there was a time when beers were called â€śSchlitzâ€ť (when youâ€™re out of Schlitz, youâ€™re out of beer), â€śHammâ€™sâ€ť (the beer refreshing!)â€ť and West Coast brews such as Olympia.
To prove it, all you have to do is go down to the track and see for yourself.
â€śThere was a lot more stuff in there than just cars,â€ť Jarvis said. There are hundreds upon hundreds of old beer cans with long dead brands, some accessible only by a church key, others that opened with the short-lived pull-tab.
â€śAnd there was just a lot of random stuff,â€ť Jarvis said.
But it was the draw of the carsâ€”and their license platesâ€”that stole the show.
Underground parking in Mammoth? Been there. Done that.