- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 4, 2001

The mystery behind the bullet-riddled 1955 Chevrolet ditched in a Fairfax County, Va., creek may never be solved, but park officials don't care. They're just happy to see it gone.

More than two decades after the car appeared in a wooded area near Great Falls, workers from the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority hoisted the junked sedan onto a flatbed truck yesterday and hauled it off to the dump.

An engine block nearly hidden among the foliage also was removed.

"I'm so psyched," said Park Ranger Laurelyn Rawson, standing alongside the once-blue Chevy. "I've been dying to get this thing out of here."

The removal coordinated by the park authority and the Alice Ferguson Foundation, an environmental nonprofit organization coincides with the 13th annual Potomac Watershed Cleanup on Saturday.

As for the car, no one knows how the now-rusted, twisted shell came to rest in the creek.

Some have theorized that the car was stolen, stripped and abandoned.

"Aha," one worker joked as he held up a dirt-covered bottle he retrieved from inside the frame. Was it a drunken driving accident?

Miss Rawson said the explanation is likely less sensational.

The property where the car sat for all those years was once owned by farmers, and they may have simply dumped their old car on a piece of their land.

Over the years, the vehicle could have been used for target practice.

Miss Rawson said the car's past cannot be traced because there is no sign of a vehicle identification number. The license plates also are missing.

Carol Ann Cohen, a park authority spokeswoman, said junked cars on parkland are nothing new.

Before an elderly couple donated Vienna's Meadowlark Botanical Gardens to the park authority, residents discarded everything from refrigerators to cars on that 70-acre property.

Tracy Bowen, executive director of the Alice Ferguson Foundation, said local governments often charge hefty fees for bulk trash removal, prompting residents to dump their stuff on the land.

Pointing to some old whitewall tires, she said some counties charge $10 for each tire they haul away.

"We'll have thousands of tires coming out of the river" during the Saturday cleanup, she said.

Eighteen jurisdictions in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and the District of Columbia will work together to remove tons of trash during the cleanup.

Volunteers are needed to work at more than 100 sites throughout the Potomac watershed, covering more than 700 miles of shoreline on the river and its tributaries.

A similar effort will take place simultaneously at the Potomac's "sister river" in Japan, the Arakawa River.

For more information, visit www.potomaccleanup.org or call 301/292-6665.

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