The Great American Tire Pile
Edward Burtynsky/Photo Vide
In the 1950s, Ed Filbin had a dream.
Oh, not one of those civil rights deals, or even the one where you have to flee a Kool-Aid tsunami with the mom from Arrested Development. No, this dream was strange: He imagined that, one day, discarded rubber tires would be worth a fortune. Never mind that tire piles are ugly, collect water, and become breeding grounds for mosquitoes, or that they're essentially impossible to put out if they ever catch fire. Mere trifles like logic and reason were not about to stand in the way of Filbin's Great American Tire Pile. And so it was that Ed Filbin collected 42 million tires. And lo, he did put them in a giant pile. And he looked upon his work, and he said that it was good.
Originally, it formed a single giant tire. Then it kept growing.
Obviously Filbin's dreams of black rubber gold never came to fruition -- what, you mean people weren't itching to buy ancient, weather-cracked tires full of mosquitoes? -- so in the 1980s, he sold the pile off to a series of companies. Why so many people were investing in old tires, we don't know (building a Captain-Planet-villain-style lair, perhaps?), but it didn't work out for the buyers, either. Several companies went bust trying to deal with the pile. Eventually the tires were whittled down to a meager 10 million rubbers, but then, in 1999, disaster struck. Literally.
Lightning struck and ignited the pile.
Michael Macor/The Chronicle Photo
The Catholics were right: God hates latex.