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9 Destinations Where Garbage is the Attraction

Be a trash tourist today!

(Photo: Edward Blake/CC BY 2.0)

There are plenty of perfectly groomed beaches with golden sands for vacationers to dip their feet in. But why not aim for something different and visit a giant heaping trash pile?

Whether they are the product of irresponsible dumping as with California’s Glass Beach, or they are have deliberately turned a trash heap into an attraction, as is the case with Virginia’s Mount Trashmore, there are spots all across the globe that have turned detritus into a destination. Check out nine of the greatest places on the planet to visit when you’re looking to be a garbage person.     

1. Dead Horse Bay

Brooklyn, New York

Not really any dead horses. Just bottles. (Photo: Edward Blake/CC BY 2.0)

At the southern tip of Brooklyn lies Dead Horse Bay. That sounds incredibly ominous, but the place is actually a surprising treasure trove of vintage bottles left over from the beach’s time as an early 20th century dumping ground. Once the waste pit for a series of horse rendering plants, the area was later used as a proper landfill, the glass remnants from which can still be found strewn about the sands. Chunks of old horse bone are also not an uncommon find for those modern scavengers and explorers who make their way to the bay. [Read more]

(Photo: Edward Blake/CC BY 2.0)

(Photo: Edward Blake/CC BY 2.0)

(Photo: Jason Eppink/CC BY 2.0)

2. Monte Testaccio

Rome, Italy

This could be renamed the Hill of Butterfingers. (Photo: Steve Browne & John Verkleir/CC BY 2.0)

In the days of ancient Rome, terra cotta jars were the storage device of choice. Rich or poor, if you needed to store oil, water, or wine, you’d throw it in a jar. They were also used to transport goods like olive oil around the world. Breakage was not uncommon, and in one Roman port, the broken jars were simply thrown onto a giant pile that is now known as the Monte Testaccio. Alternately known as the “Mountain of Shards,” the pile of ancient trash is built from an estimated 80 million jars, or at least what’s left of them. The stacked shards can still be seen making up the slopes of the hill. [Read more]

(Photo: Lalupa/Public Domain)

(Photo: Hans Dinkelberg/CC BY 2.0)

(Photo: Tyler Bell/CC BY 2.0)

3. Sanctuaries of Difunta Correa

Caucete, Argentina

Pay your respects to the breast milk saint. (Photo: Darío Alpern/CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Sanctuaries of Difunta Correa can be found dotting the roads in and around San Juan Argentina. These handmade devotionals to the “Breast Milk Saint” are often surrounded by discarded water bottles. As the story goes, Difunta Correa was a mother who died from dehydration while traveling with her daughter. When she was found, the child was still alive, suckling from her mother’s seemingly endless milk supply. Difunta Correa was buried in a hilltop shrine that slowly saw smaller shrines spread out along the slopes and eventually down the roadways, as she is said to bless travelers. Discarded, empty water bottles are a common offering, signifying a replenishment of the breast milk. [Read more]

(Photo: U. Schlosser/CC BY-SA 3.0 DE)

Sanctuaries of Difunta Correa

(Photo: Journeylism/Atlas Obscura)

Sanctuaries of Difunta Correa
(Photo: Journeylism/Atlas Obscura)

 

4. Mount Trashmore

Virginia Beach, Virginia

What a pile of garbage. (Photo: m01229/CC BY 2.0)

Sure, this Virginia park looks like just more nicely groomed hills and small lakes, but Mount Trashmore hides (not very well, given its name) a trashy underbelly. The site, originally a landfill, was tilled up and mixed with fresh soil to create what is now a popular public park. Not far beneath the surface is a layer of rubber that keeps water from seeping into the trash and forcing it to rot. There are even methane vents that are disguised as flagpoles set throughout the park. It all makes for a lovely day at the landfill. [Read more]

(Photo: m01229/CC BY 2.0)

(Photo: m01229/CC BY 2.0)

(Photo: Kubigula/CC BY-SA 3.0

5. Mini-Paris

Vaïssac, France

The City of Lights has never looked so trashy. (Photo: Petit-Paris/CC BY-SA 3.0)

For nearly two decades, Gerard Brion has been constructing his miniature version of Paris, France out of recycled garbage materials. Among the building materials he has employed are soup cans, baby food jars, and other random pieces of trash. It began as a small backyard miniature project and has grown to include many major Parisian landmarks including the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower. [Read more]

(Photo: Gérard Brion/CC BY-SA 4.0)

6. Nitt Witt Ridge

Cambria, California

It took more than a nitwit to build this trash castle. (Photo: Joseph Francis/CC BY 2.0)

California’s Nitt Witt Ridge is the opposite of an opulent mansion, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t grand. Using a pickaxe and shovel, a local garbage man built the structure using materials he collected from his route, including natural materials like wood and stone, as well as more traditional garbage, such as beer cans and shells. Clearly a tongue-in-cheek construction (just look at the name), this garbage palace is still a wonder to behold. [Read more]

(Photo: emilykneeter/CC BY 2.0)

(Photo: emilykneeter/CC BY 2.0)

(Photo: emilykneeter/CC BY 2.0)

7. Glass Beach

Fort Bragg, California

Those aren’t gems, they’re trash. (Photo: Lisa Nottingham/CC BY 2.0)

It’s a bit hard to recognize these days, but the colorful, gleaming gems littering this California beach are pieces of glass trash that have been shaped by the sea into rounded jewels. In the earlier 20th century, when trash disposal was more of an out-of-sight, out-of-mind situation, Fort Bragg residents would often just throw their garbage into the sea near what is now Glass Beach. After clean up efforts in the 1960s, all that was left of the garbage were countless pieces of discarded glass that the waters have worn down into lovely little stones. [Read more]  

(Photo: Annetta Black/Atlas Obscura)

(Photo: Sarah and Jason/CC BY-SA 2.0)

(Photo: Vadim Kurland/CC BY 2.0)

8. The Treasures in the Trash Collection

New York, New York

The name says it all. (Photo: Dylan Thuras/Atlas Obscura)

While this sprawling place is not normally open to the public, it is one of the finest and most interesting trash collections in the world. Curated by New York garbage men who have plucked a nearly unbelievable hoard of items from the trash, it is a strange chronicle of the Big Apple’s history as seen through what it threw away. Toys, cell phones, picture frames—if you can name it, there’s a good chance you will find some example of it in this improvised collection. [Read more]

(Photo: Dylan Thuras/Atlas Obscura)

(Photo: Dylan Thuras/Atlas Obscura)

(Photo: Dylan Thuras/Atlas Obscura)

9. Slab For The Ruhr

Essen, Germany

Slab for the Ruhr

The garbage is actually under the giant steel monolith. (Photo: Arnold Paul/CC BY-SA 3.0)

Richard Serra’s monolithic Slab For the Ruhr is an evocative work of art planted right on top of a slag heap made of mining waste. By 1997, the local mining industry in and around Essen, Germany had managed to create a 50-meter tall hill made completely of mining waste. In an effort to both beautify the giant slag mound and create a monument to the industry, the 14-foot tall steel monolith, designed by Serra, was planted atop the hill. Pretty eerie for a pile of trash. [See more]

(Photo: Jesse Krauß/Public Domain)

(Photo: Frank Vincentz/CC BY-SA 3.0)

(Photo: Arnold Paul/CC BY-SA 3.0)