New York's motorcycle graveyard

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Photos: Cseward

The email last year was something about a condemned building upstate. Lockport, maybe. Four stories, collapsed roof, by the Eerie Canal. That wasn’t the important thing, the place was full of bikes. All of them from the ’50s and ’60s. Thousands upon thousands of them. Some out-of-business dealer’s old stock. Go now, the floor is rotting and bikes are falling through, crushing each other. Somehow, plans fell through, the trip never happened. Then these pictures turned up on Flickr. Damn, might finally have to head up there. 

  • Emmet

    All the recent barnyard collections discovered… Is this one getting liquidated?

  • Ben

    Who’s up for a road trip?

  • scottdc

    I’m not seeing anything in the photos older than the mid 70′s or so. Judging by the state of disassembly of most of them I’m wondering if they are not a dealers old stock but were wrecks being parted out?

  • Kerry

    I was there back in the 90′s when I was a poor U of Rochester student. There is no way to rescue these bikes without falling through the rotten floor at least a story to your death (most likely caused by motorcycles raining down on you). And that was 15 years ago. The building was an old cider mill from the turn of the last century, if I recall correctly.

    It also doesn’t help that the majority of the stuff (if not all) is japanese from the mid 70′s to the early 80s and essentially worthless.

    • Wes Siler

      Now I remember why we didn’t go, you talked us out of it. Always the sensible one…

  • J

    Someone went a little crazy with these photos, talk about overworked, I can’t even barely see what I want to see, the bikes!

  • Woody

    Whoever took these pictures needs to lay off the HDR shit, these look terrible.

    • robotribe

      What? You don’t like your reality looking like an XBOX game?

    • Paulo

      +1 HDR should be punished with eye gouging, Great way to fuck up a perfectly good image.

  • fazer6

    There’s one in Texas that’s far more appealing, both for the bikes and the ability to rescue them:

  • Sean Smith

    Man, there sure are a lot of sissy bars in there.

  • Ben Branch

    Oh my God. Is anyone going to categorise and sell these? Seems like such a waste to leave them rotting.

  • Deltablues

    For a minute there I thought Thomas ‘Painter of Light’ Kinkaide had taken up painting motorcycles. There are some pretty straight looking tanks in there and some Comstar wheels that might be salvageable for a project bike.

  • Kerry

    Wes – I didn’t talk you out of it, just talked you out of trying to save anything in there.

    Ben, you can’t cat and sort because you can’t get to them. The floor will literally buckle if you try to approach it. Most of that stuff is junk anyway since there is no roof on the place and it has been exposed to harsh western NY winters for a long long time.

    If I recall most of this was used bikes (trade ins) for the dealership and not brandy new stuff. Most of the parts were take offs and defective not new. I asked a buddy tonight wat the shop used to be called and it is Kohl’s Cycle Sales.

    here are some snowy black and white photos:

  • ChuckNorris

    I’d heard a story about a Marlboro vs Camel wars, where either of them was losing the game for good. Board of members were in the meeting just about to shut down the company. And a cool-looking youngster stood up, and said “I have an idea!” Anyways, this young fella was to throw bunch of empty-crispy-smoked package of whichever brand it was to the every bins and to the sidewalks of the target neighborhood. So he did it. Following days, per said, the sales were dramatically increased. And they survived. He had given that impression of how many people smoke their sh*t.

    Well, the story could well be a urban legend. But, I can only read Yamaha brand on the pictures above! And they look significantly better than the others. Would that be that kind of old-marketing trick?

    • Grant Ray

      Bwahaha! Yamaha USA has dreams about dreaming it was allowed to be that savvy.

  • Woody

    Sucks that you literally have to travel a mine field just to try to salvage a parts bike. It’s almost as bad as the picture of a dumpster full of buells.

  • Richard

    Seems to me there are a lot of great Wrench Monkee style projects just waited to develop out of there…if people can get in to get pics, they can get the bikes out…just my two cents

    • Hiwatt Scott

      I agree. The floor’s evidently strong enough to hold dozens of motorcycles, and the occasional photographer. grab the nearest motorcycle and start pulling! (maybe throw a lifeline around the nearest support beam)

  • Chris

    Why oh why do people feel the need to ruin potentially good pictures with HDR?

    Grant, head up there with your Leica and give us all a treat.


  • s1102879

    Okay, so, if I go there and find that I can grab bikes without falling through….can I keep them? or is that stealing. Isn’t there a statute of limitations on ownership ;)

  • BL

    those aren’t actually photographs, are they?

    i’m assuming HDR is a brand of colored pencils.

    why not just yank a couple support beams out, let em drop, and pick whatever lands on top?

  • Scottie

    I think this is where they store the junk they haul to the “antique” motorcycle show in Rhinebeck every year.

    Sorry gang, I’m too old to waste time wrenching. I just want to unplug the battery minder, hit the starter and ride. And, yes, I own the dirtiest bike on the planet, but it gets a little cleaner when it rains.

  • Andy

    I’ve been told by a local rider this is an abandoned wharehouse in Lockport, NY, north of Buffalo (near me) in UPSTATE New York (NOT NYC – there is a whole state called New York). It was used by Walter A. Kohl of his motorcycle parts/salvage company in the late sixties and early seventies. I believe he died in a nursing home around 2002 at 83 (quick google search).

    • Grant Ray

      Hi Andy. I don’t know if you’ve read through the comments yet, but these photos are of that garage you’re referring to.

  • Woody

    Just stick to only walking on the main beams, tie a rope to the bike you want, and pull it to safety. Make sure to bring friends in case you fall through.

    If this were in Washington state instead of New York, I’d be trying to find it already.

  • Kerry

    First: yest it would be stealing. Technically these things belong to Walter Kohl, his estate, or whomever owns the property. So without their permission technically it would be stealing. However whether those people care if you are stealing or even “doing them a favor” by removing garbage remains to be seen. If it were me I would be really nervous about looky loos falling through the floor, getting hurt, and suing me and not be that friendly about having strangers trying to “save” property via stealing it. this is one of those things where unless you want to go through the trouble of getting written permission to remove the stuff, it is best to take only pictures and leave only foot prints.

    Second: The floors are not solid enough to hold all those motorcycle parts and bikes. Bikes fall through the floor all the time by themselves. If you look at the pics in the links I posted above, you can see bikes in the basement that have fallen through the floor. the support beams holding up the ceiling are not in great shape either and I doubt I would trust them to hold a person plus the decaying half caved in roof. Oh year, although the building was shored up over the years, remember there is a lot of 100+ year old wood making up this building.

    Third, the place is not very big. I mean, it is bigger than say the interior of your house or apartment, but not cavernous by any means. From what I recall of the place, most of the photos look like they were taken from doorways and from the stone, brick, and even concrete walls that were added to the structure over time as foundation or retaining walls. I guess you could save the basement ones but to be honest I would not want to be down there with all those lbs of motorcycle shit above my head ready to drop at a moments notice.

    fourth, my memory of this is from 1997 or there abouts (I attended U of R from 1995-1999), and the place was really dodgy then. I doubt it has improved since and judging from the pics I see even worse than I could have imagined. Also, everybody in western NY pretty much knows about this place and if you think people haven’t been picking it clean since the shop closed in 1986, I think you would be wrong. Some things are too hard to remove, like bikes in the basement, and that may keep anything value that is left in place. like the cheese in a mousetrap. I am pretty sure there is nothing British or American in the heap, and if there was it is gone now.

  • Kerry

    some more links:

    some of these pics show you how dodgy it all really is.

    Oh yeah, the building is 4 floors. I was personally never above the ground and the basement so I don’t know what is above.

  • Boggled

    Lay off the Photoshop. The moronic painterly effect ruins these photos.

  • JustZeros

    Man, I would kill to have an opportunity like that near me. Talk about some serious resurrection potential. One big box of motorcycling history.

    Pretty cool! thanks for sharing the photos!

  • cds
  • Yami

    Here are a few photos from my recent trip there. A month ago or so.