April 21, 2009


Back yard incinerator, photo © 2009 Rosemary West

In the 1940s and 50s, it was typical for houses built in South California to have these back yard incinerators for burning household trash. Use of the incinerators was considered by many to be a major source of air pollution, although others believed that industry and automobiles were really to blame. By the end of the 1950s, use of the incinerators had been banned, and most were eventually hauled away, presumably to landfills. But a few remain, often forgotten behind a tool shed or in an overgrown corner of the yard. This one, in remarkably good condition, has been kept by the homeowner because her pet tortoise likes to sleep in it.


  1. I have my old incinerator. It's crumbling, but remarkably salvageable. I'm torn about removing it. It lends a rustic feel to my backyard.

  2. ours sat for years traditionally in the corner of the back yard where the 2 fences meet...It was an eerie symbol of another time..

  3. I aquired a backyard vintage incinerator. It is delicate and I would like to restore it. Please help.

    1. Since these are usually made from concrete, I would expect they could be patched.


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