Add Reedsburg Salvage to the lengthy list of yards that have fallen victim to urban sprawl.
The 10-acre property comprising the salvage yard and scrap metal business, located on Main Street (Highway 33) in Reedsburg, Wis., has been sold, according to its current owners. Once the yard’s inventory has been cleared out this summer, the property will be divided in half. The south parcel will become a bypass road to divert semi-trucks from traveling on Main Street. The north parcel will have a franchise gas station/convenience store built on it.
Owned and operated by the Steinhorst family since 1966, Reedsburg Salvage—a.k.a. Jake’s Junkyard Auto Salvage—is believed to have been started in the 1950s, according to Korrie Steinhorst. He, along with brothers Brente and Traye, took over ownership of the business after their father, Roger “Jake” Steinhorst, passed away several years ago.
The yard actually began operation across the street from its current location. It was moved in 1972, and grew to an inventory of 1,200 vehicles, according to Steinhorst. Of that total, he estimated 25 percent is vintage, going back to the mid-1940s. He added that crushing vehicles to clear the property is already underway. Currently, the most damaged/stripped late-model cars and trucks are being compacted, while the vintage inventory will go last to give old car hobbyists time to visit the yard and get what’s needed before it, too, is gone.
Steinhorst explained he would like to sell the rare and/or complete vehicles as whole, but there’s no shortage of parts-donor cars and trucks. He said there are no titles for vehicles, and those sold whole would be done on a bill of sale. Also, the yard has the equipment to load vehicles on trailers.
At this time, Steinhorst said, there is no shipping of parts available. Customers are allowed in the yard to look around, but parts removal is by permission only.
The yard’s inventory includes some rare stock. Among the most desirable are a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Nomad hardtop station wagon (without drivetrain), ’55 Pontiac Star Chief Custom Safari hardtop station wagon (without drivetrain), ’70s Lancia Fulvia Rallye coupe, ’67 Chevy Impala SS convertible with a 396-cid V-8 and four-speed transmission, ’70s AM General Postal Jeep with right-hand drive, ’58 Chevy Delray two-door sedan and ’55 Chevy One-Fifty panel delivery.
The inventory’s single category depth is most apparent among 1955-’57 Chevys, including many two-door examples; post-’75 pickups; ’70s Chevy Novas; early Mustangs; and “barge size” General Motors sedans spanning the ’60s and ’70s that are craved by the demo derby crowd.
Walking among the yard’s wide, dirt aisles, vehicles of same manufacturer are somewhat grouped together. The problem now until the yard ceases operation is the thick weeds and brush growing around many vehicles that hampers all-around viewing unless going into “jungle safari” mode.
While touring the yard, Steinhorst pointed out the property’s tall, corrugated steel “beauty” fence while reminiscing about he and his family’s 56 years of ownership of Reedsburg Salvage.
“That (fence) was paid for by the government. It was part of the Highway Beautification Act,” the 1965 brainchild of Ladybird Johnson, the wife of then-President Lyndon B. Johnson.
Summing up all his years spent working at Reedsburg Salvage Steinhorst stated wistfully, “It’s going to be hard,” adjusting to the yard’s closing.
To contact the yard, morning phone calls are encouraged, Monday through Friday, at 608-524-3612 or use mailing address: Reedsburg Salvage, 1690 E. Main St., Reedsburg, WI 53959.
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