Valley of the Drums – Brooks, Kentucky - Atlas Obscura

Valley of the Drums

Brooks, Kentucky

This calm grassy field was once a Superfund site full of thousands of nasty chemicals.  


If it weren’t for the chain link fence topped with barbed wire wrapped around it, this field would look like a peaceful spot for an afternoon picnic. But in reality, you wouldn’t want to choose this as a place to laze in the grass, as its soil once harbored dangerous substances.

This grassy field was once home to one of the most famous toxic waste sites in the United States. It’s known as “Valley of the Drums” because of the many leaking metal drums of chemicals that covered the small valley, and was used for 10 years for waste disposal and drum recycling.

Old drums covered the entire space, the chemicals contained within them leaching into the soil. Conditions were so toxic that in 1966, some of the drums caught fire and blazed for more than a week.

In 1983, the United States Environmental Protection Agency placed the site on its Superfund Program’s National Priorities List, and the area has been radically transformed to the serene view that can be seen today. More importantly, the toxins in the air, water, and soil have been removed as much as possible so that the site does not pose a threat to nearby residents and businesses. Even so, the area is fenced and padlocked and so can only be seen through the fence.

Know Before You Go

If you go, drive southwest from Highway 1020 Coral Ridge Road along Letts Road and stop at an unnamed lane, which is CR-1825 Road. Walk northwest to the gate. The site is fenced and padlocked; please respect this is private property. You can look through the fence and be thankful the site has been cleaned up.

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October 2, 2018

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