A graffiti face peers out from an overturned rail car.

A graffiti face peers out from an overturned rail car. (c) J.S. Reinitz 2011

It’s always amazing how nature reclaims the ruins of man. Vast, once thriving cities are reclamed by the jungle after people move out. Unused roads are overtaken by grass and trees.

And the overturned rail cars begin to become one with the forest.

Train wreck

(c) J.S. Reinitz 2011

We first spotted the old train wreck about 10 years ago while hiking in a little, out of the way park that boasted nothing more than a wooden sign and a gravel parking lot. The accident was recent. They had repaired the tracks, but you could smell the cargo — harvested corn — starting to ferment inside the cars. The rips in the ground from impact were fresh. Trees and brush damaged in the crash were heaped in piles.

We figured the rail company would remove the cars, but they remain.

A few weeks ago we returned to the site, which has become popular with graffiti artists and an airsoft group. The woods are beginning to encroach back into the accident scene, and saplings have sprung up between the train cars.