For years, the internet swirled with rumours of a small fortune being buried in the rubbish removal in a Alamogordo, New Mexico landfill. While most people dismissed these rumours simply as “urban legend,” without much credence, a minority held steadfast to the validity of this report.
Here’s the story as sorted out by various news agencies more than two decades later. After devastating losses in the stock market, and being sold off by the parent company, Warner Communications, executives at Atari, Inc. decide in 1983 to discard thousands of underperforming game cartridges and consoles from an El Paso warehouse into a landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico. In particular, it was stated by the company that thousands of copies of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial had to go due to poor sales and a flubbed effort on quality.
The local kids, doing what they do best of course, raided the 300 acre 30 feet deep rubbish removal site and were delighted to find working copies of the very popular Pac Man and Ms. Pac Man. Further, they claimed they found many other game cartridges including Yar’s Revenge, Warlords, Defender, Berzerk, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Centipede, and E.T. the Extra Terrestrial. Regardless of these amazing finds, few adults believed the children since the official statements from company did not coincide with what the children were saying.
About two decades later, in 2014, a documentary crew from Fuel Industries convinced the city of Alamogordo to allow them to excavate the landfill site for six months. They were filming a documentary about the 1980s video game crash called “Atari: Game Over.” According to ARS Technica, more than 13,000 game cartridges, as well as some game consoles, were recovered, but more than 700,000 remain in the landfill because they’re buried so deep and covered with concrete!
Of those recovered, 881 cartridges sold for $107,930.15 before excavation had to be stopped, much to the dismay of archaeologists, historians, and other interested parties. The city of Alamogordo got about $65,000 to go toward various good causes while Joseph Lewandowski, the man who had the foresight to buy the garbage company that owned the landfill, received the rest.
Over the years, the reputation of the Atari rubbish removal “graveyard” has been a blend of fact and fiction. In 2006, an alternative rock band called, Wintergreen, made a song entitled, “When I Wake Up,” that tells a fictional account of traveling to Alamogordo to raid the landfill and come away with undestroyed versions of the E.T. game! It seems to be a recurring dream of the younger generations to reclaim at least portions of what our society has thrown away in the past!
Now, it appears the UK may have its own source of buried toy treasure! Ashby-de-la-Zouch, in northwest Leicestershire, is not only home to a castle built by Lord William Hastings, it is home to a landfill containing rubbish removal that is rumored to be worth thousands of pounds! The toys in question are Star Wars figurines that retailed for around £1.80 way back in 1980 but are now worth about £18,000 pounds at auction today! The outstanding question remains whether or not the Star Wars toys, like Luke Skywalker and Hans Solo, would be in good enough condition to fetch as much as some believe. However, if the Atari dump site is any indicator, it would make economical sense to try.
The Star Wars toys in question were manufactured by Palitoy, based in Coalville in the UK, and later dumped in the “Ashby Moto Park” landfill (as described on a Google Map), also known as Lount Pit Recycling Centre or Lount Recycling and Household Waste Site. Local kids, being the resourceful scroungers that they are, were able to rescue a few of the Star Wars toys but many thousand remain buried. The kids were also able to grab many Action Man toys fron the same landfill which fetched a handsome price back in the day!
Who’s to say what valuables we’ll find if we mine our rubbish removal? It seems the moral lesson here is that our society, including our corporate culture, is simply too quick to throw materials into the landfill, including items that could be worth a fortune! Thanks to the efforts of Clearabee, a principled on demand rubbish removal company, much of our rubbish is now being diverted away from the landfills to charity shops and resale shops. Perhaps it’s time to go shopping for a fortune at stores featuring reused products! Thank you Clearabee!