The Petrified Forest Model T: Evidence for Bootleggers in the Painted Desert?

One of the hiking goals of employees and visitors at the Petrified Forest is to make it out to the Model T in the northern Painted Desert Wilderness area. Although it is only about 4 miles out 'as a crow flies', manupulating through the washes and badlands adds a good amount of distance to your trip, so that the total round trip is more like 10 miles with no shade.  Plus you have a good trek up a 100+ foot mesa at the very end of your trip.

I've attached a couple of pictures of the "goal" below.  The question we always wonder is how did this vehicle get out here in the middle of nowhere? The main story is that the car actually belonged to bootleggers who were transporting alcohol illegally to the nearby Navajo Reservation.  There vehicle was stuck in a small wash and mud and abandoned.  It is in pretty good shape still.  You can sit in the drivers seat and steer and a park ritual is to have your photo taken driving the Model T. A few years back we recorded the serial numbers from the engine block and sent them to Ford in an attempt to track down any ownership records, but to no avail.
 One of the cool things about the Petrified Forest is its long history (established in 1906) and all of the hidden 'gems' scattered throughout the park for the more adventurous to find.


  1. The engine is a few dozen feet away from the vehicle - did someone try and haul out the engine at some point?

  2. The engine is still in the car. The second "engine" in the wash a distance away was uncovered more recently and found to have a bit a chassis underneath, so it actually is another car, but not as well preserved.

  3. Oh, very cool! Can you tell if the second car is of the same approximate vintage?


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