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This petrified pileup has been stuck in a Belgian forest since WWII – UPDATE

Think traffic is bad in your area? These retro classics haven’t moved for 70 years.

The Chatillon Car Graveyard in Southern Belgium is one of the largest car burial sites in the world. Now a gathering place for tourists, collectors, and photographers, Chatillon is an eerie snapshot of a dark time in our planet’s history.

During WWII, when American troops were stationed in Belgium, servicemen began to acquire classic cars and collectables through a variety of means. Some bought, some stole, and others simply found during the chaos of war.

Then, in 1945, the Axis Powers surrendered. American troops were called back to the U.S., but it was too expensive to ship their prized automobiles back with them.

Military commanders ordered that the vehicles be left behind, so the soldiers drove the cars deep into the woods, hiding them in a woodland near the small village of Chatillon. Surely, they hoped one day they could return to collect their newly acquired transportation.

Chatillon Car Graveyard

When the soldiers returned home, however, they were informed that if they wanted to retrieve their motoring souvenirs, they had to raise the shipping charges themselves. It must have been expensive in 1945, because to this day, not a single car has been retrieved.

Cars have come and gone since then, but still the tomb remains. Antique Volkswagens, Volvos, and various others litter the forest floor, where Mother Nature has had her way with them. Tires have gone flat, body panels have been taken over by rust, and windows have been smashed. Time may not have been kind to these beauties, but this automotive necropolis still remains, perhaps waiting for the day their owners will come and polish them back to their former glory.

At one point, there were nearly 500 vehicles spread throughout the forests near Chatillon, but that number dwindled over the years due to theft and environmental cleanups.

UPDATE: According to our contributor Ronan Glon, all of the vehicles have been cleared from the woods. So now these haunting pictures are all that remain of the once-mighty pileup.

(Photos via Theo van Vliet and Rosanne Delange)