My Favorite Ride: Mystery car in Yellowwood State Forest still unidentified
David Willibey, who always signs his emails to me with "Longtime reader," said he thinks the totally rusted car I wrote about last week that's abandoned alongside a hiking trail in Yellowwood State Forest may be a 1949 or '50 Chrysler.
Or a DeSoto. Maybe a Dodge.
"With only the rear view and one rear fender," he said, he could only wager a few guesses.
My Favorite Ride: Do you know this mystery car and its story?
I know, it's a tough one. There just isn't much car left. I was hoping the VIN tag would be a clue for someone out there, so I am including it again this week.
Shari Frank, who first asked if I could help her ID the car, sent me two pictures she found taken of the car in the fall of 2020. The car was more intact then, so take a close look.
The only other potential ID came via an email from someone I don't know, suggesting a different make and model of car than the ones Willibey proposed.
"I was looking at this car, and after some research I believe this car may be a 1954 Cadillac Series 62," the email said. "The taillights are crucial to solving this puzzle. As you may tell, the headlights of this car are very very close to those of the mystery car."
He attached a photo of a classic aquamarine 1954 Cadillac that would have made my grandfather, who loved old Caddys but could never afford one back when they were elegant, cry. Yep, those taillights ...
My Favorite Ride: Readers take a stab at identifying vehicles
Still wondering, I called the Yellowwood State Forest Office, thinking someone there might have insights or knowledge about the old car abandoned along the 2.6-mile YZ horse trail.
They didn't know much.
"It's very likely there was a homestead there years ago," said Betsy Burhans, who answered my call to the forest office. "Yellowwood was all deserted farmland before the WPA came in and built everything in the 1930s."
What was the Beanblossom Land Utilization Project became Yellowwood State Forest.
Many of the forest's 23,326 acres were acquired over time as families who had settled there moved away. The soil and steep ridges weren't conducive to farming; people moved on.
Some stayed on through the 1950s, and left behind things such as cars and trucks.
Derrick Potts is the assistant property manager at Yellowwood, which is located in Brown County, about 10 miles out of Bloomington headed east.
He said after the Great Depression, many homes in the rural world were abandoned. "Things were left behind," he said.
Potts said this is the only automobile he knows of littering the forest's landscape, acknowledging there may be others better hidden. He suggested a search of property records might turn up who last inhabited the tract off Tulip Tree Road. Maybe that could help identify the vehicle.
The car will stay where it is, probably forever. Potts said while other kinds of debris and metal are cleared out, "that car's been there so long that we wouldn't ever do anything with it."
Contact reporter Laura Lane at email@example.com, 812-331-4362 or 812-318-5967.
This article originally appeared on The Herald-Times: My Favorite Ride: Chrysler, DeSoto, Dodge, Cadillac. Who knows?