The tragic, tragic story of an abandoned motorcycle graveyard in Upstate New York begins with motorcycle enthusiast David Cuff. He stumbled across a Flickr account that contained various strange photographs showing a large family of motorcycles that had been abandoned and forgotten in a warehouse somewhere in Upstate New York. He set himself out on a mission to find the motorcycle graveyard and was successful! David and his friends discovered the exact location of the sad, rusty graveyard – 71 Gooding Street, in Lockport, New York.
David was determined to see this motorcycle graveyard in person, and he and his friends set out on a 9 hour journey to Lockport to visit the warehouse. They discovered that graveyard was actually a company, named the Motorcycle Graveyard of Lockport, and from the early 1970’s, the building on Gooding Street became the headquarters for the company. The company was established by Kohls Cycle Sales after the Kohl family collected over 50 years worth of motorcycles and related parts. Sometime around 1997, the Kohl family sold the building and motorcycles to Frank Murrell, and Frank operated the business as Kohl’s Cycle Salvage and then sold parts off of the hundreds of motorcycles.
“The building with the alleged motorcycles is within eye sight of the canal lock. We hung out by the lock for a little while watching boats being raised and lowered. I was getting a feel for the area and casing the building like a bank robber.
The buildings were trashed, stuff everywhere…
There were small hints that there were motorcycles in there with a gas tank here and a beat up motorcycle frame there. The door to the building that had the motorcycles was open a few inches and I could see a motorcycle leaning against the wall… The basement was full of old rusty bikes that nearly rusted away from the moisture in the air…There was a set up stairs that looked like they were just days from crumbling. I lightly walked upstairs and opened the door and that’s where my jaw dropped. The room was full of motorcycles.
There were holes on the main floor with motorcycles falling into the basement and there were motorcycles on the third floor falling onto the main floor. Half of the main floor was concrete and very stable so we wondered around and tried to process what we were seeing while trying to be quiet and be aware what was around us.”
Come to find out, the warehouse was condemned, and actually owned by the city of Lockport due to unpaid taxes. David then set out on a new journey, to contact the previous owner Frank, to try and gain access to the building, as insurances needed to be put into place for David to be able to enter. He wanted to save as many of the old bikes as he could. It took several attempts, and eventually, after much time passed, David was again successful.
The city of Lockport finally gave Frank a deadline to get whatever he wanted out of the building by mid-November 2010. David began planning his second visit to the warehouse, this time with a bike trailer ready to take home some incredibly motorcycle history. David and his friends wasted no time in grabbing every frame, tank, and part they could, knowing full well that Frank had planned to just scrap anything left over. They made several trips back and forth to the warehouse, with little to no sleep, until finally they’d picked the 4-story building apart. The rest of what was left was scrapped.
“We were able to save some bikes and parts. It was also nice to see the memories come back to Frank. He has a great memory and told us details from back when the business was booming including such as [that time] he scrapped 600 or so motorcycles years ago. I shed a tear hearing that. These weren’t ugly late 1970s or 1980s bikes. These were 1960s and early 1970s bikes.”
The building burned down in a fire on July 30th, 2013, the last remains of the motorcycle graveyard were lost forever.
“I’m afraid there will never be another scrap yard like this one. These days it’s much different. Motorcycles are much more expensive and not just tossed aside. With things like ebay and craigslist there are just too many avenues to sell bikes and parts. These finds are what we dream of as kids. We all hear the rumors but assume they don’t exist or don’t make the effort to explore the possibility or to track down the facts. This is one time where the outcome made it all worth it.”
David said, in closing.
Check out the photo gallery of the warehouse below, and tell us in the comments what your thoughts are of the Lockport Motorcycle Graveyard story!