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Motorcycle Graveyard: paying last respects

On my trip east in March’11, I stopped by Kohl’s Cycle Salvage in Lockport, NY, for a last peek and to confirm stories of a clean-out. I had not known it’s actual name until recently. Locals and explorers referred to it as the “motorcycle graveyard.” However, “motorcycle mausoleum” would have been more fitting. I had just visited there in August 2010, and I returned because fellow urbexers Scott H and Tunnelbug had mentioned some bike removal and big trash bins during their October pass through town. Hundreds and hundreds of bikes and parts had filled the building’s 4 floors, but were very weather damaged. Decrepitude! Everything had been exposed to the elements for many years. Timeline of the property had been unclear, but an awesome posting by Dynamite Dave explains some of the history, and his adventures.

Initially I was told the building was one of the parts plants for GM or Ford Motors back in the day; industrial use for sure. From Dave we learned it was purchased in the 1970’s by Kohl, a motorcycle enthusiast who owned several different shops over a span of 50 yrs, amassing a crazy amount of bikes and parts for sale and trade. Kohl then sold it to recent owner Frank around 1997, who turned it into salvage shop selling parts.

Back taxes were owed on the building, which needed some major repairs as it was starting to fall apart. Cost estimates for repairs were too high so nothing was done. City condemned building and locked it up. Over time people broke in to graffiti and mess with contents. Frank had to sue to get his inventory, and won, so the city gave deadline to get everything out by November 2010. Dave and some friends were able to purchase some of the choice inventory just in time, the rest was tossed into large bins and hauled away for scrap.  Check out Dave’s Story and Pics.

My visit was fun, but I was saddened by the loss of such an awesome one-of-a-kind place. It was amazing to see the place empty, however the building was in much worse shape this time. Places where I had stood just 7 months prior had collapsed. Despite the clean-out a few bikes remained, trapped in the rubble of the cave-ins.  Some were locked in ice from winter, which found its way in from many holes in the roof and walls. Walking on the ice was a bit tricky while carrying my gear. There was a cool 2 foot tall stalagmite of ice formed below a dripping pipe.

I’m sure city doesn’t have money to knock it down and will allow nature to have it’s way. I’d wager the Vegas line on major wall failure is for this summer. And I cannot imagine the place lasting another winter. It is extremely sketchy now. Glad I got my two visits, only wish I had had more! Have a few more shots of the empty floors, need to hdr them and hope to post soon.

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