On Portland's western waterfront, between the Casco Bay and Veterans Bridges, lie the remains of a railyard that was abandoned sometime in the late 20th century. Along the collapsing granite seawall on one section is a mound of reddish soil, which, upon further inspection, isn't soil at all, but a finely-ground mixture of old rubber hoses, wire casings, nuts, washers, bits of fiberglass, and plastic.
These look like the remnants of scrapped automobiles that were sent through giant shredders at junkyards, then shipped by rail to this location. But the railyard went out of business, and the barge that was supposed to take them to some distant landfill never came.
So the temporary waterfront landfill became a permanent beach of shredded auto parts. Decades of oceanfront weather eroded the junk even further: now, the rubber is brittle to the touch and the metals are entirely rusted.
The junk has undoubtedly been leaching all sorts of toxic meatals into the adjacent Fore River Estuary for all these years: cadmium, lead, copper, zinc, and other poisons common to our automobiles. Yet, miraculously, a few scrubby juniper and aspen trees have managed to take root on the mound of shredded cars: