The big Ford Bronco still had air in three of its fat tires, but Weber County Sheriff Craig Dearden says if his deputies find any more vehicles at Pineview Reservoir, the wrecks will stay put.
The process of draining the reservoir to a mere 1,200 acre feet by Oct. 1 for maintenance is exposing many secrets that have been buried in watery graves for decades or more.The discoveries have set veteran officers to recalling old, unsolved cases.
Dearden said the 1971 Bronco, which was reported stolen in Salt Lake County in 1978, was pulled from the reservoir Aug. 22.
"It apparently was stolen out of Salt Lake County and later deposited in Pineview," he said.
A towing company was called in to haul away the rust-encrusted vehicle, and Dearden said he's afraid the county may get stuck with the $200 towing fee.
"We're not going to haul any more of the vehicles out of here . . . we don't want to have to pay the tow bills," he said.
Terel Grimley, manager of Pine View Water Systems, said he'll probably leave any future vehicle discoveries undisturbed as well.
Besides the Bronco, deputies have discovered a rust-covered rifle near the port ramp and a gas-station strongbox on the rocky bottom at the base of the spillway.
The spillway base area also was littered with four tires, a pair of thong sandals, a Chrysler hubcap and a very old Ogden parking meter all scattered amid dead fish and rusty beer cans.
A 400-pound safe that officials believe had been in the reservoir for at least six years emerged on the south shore.
A section of the safe had broken off. Its cover had the combination dial intact, and although rusty, the door swung freely.
Dearden and Lt. Mike Wells stood above the rugged shoreline Wednesday, remembering the myriad of unsolved safe thefts from years ago.
Possible matches included the Powder Mountain ski resort theft or the heist from a Gasamat service station.
Dearden anticipated more discoveries.
"There's pretty much everything you'd want in here except a dead person, and I wouldn't discount that," he said.
Wells said the reservoir doesn't hide any unrecovered bodies from drownings, adding, "We don't have any unaccounted-for missing people, but you can never be sure."
The receding water line also has attracted human scavengers, but Dearden said he isn't worried about people walking off with potential evidence.
"It would be nice if they found a gun if they turned it in . . . but I don't think there are many treasures worth hunting," he said.
Wells said he's seen many people armed with metal detectors combing the newly exposed shores.
"They're like ants," he said.