Every city seems to have a park that stands above the rest for one reason or another. The classic example is Central Park in New York City, but other famous A-List parks include Hyde Park in London, Balboa Park in San Diego, Lincoln Park in Chicago, etc. It’s the park where city dwellers flock on the first warm day of spring, where barbecues and volleyball games are held, and frisbees and footballs are seen flying through the air.
In Virginia Beach, that park is the one and only Mount Trashmore – a great park with an even better name .
In a previous life, Mount Trashmore was a landfill, however, the site was re-purposed as a park by compacting the layers of waste with clean soil. The result was a ‘mountain’ of trash and soil, and the name ‘Mount Trashmore’ became its official moniker.
However, if you’re worried that you might hit trash if you dig into the soil, fear not. When Mount Trashmore was built, not only was soil mixed in with the trash, but the whole thing was covered in six feet of clean trash-free top soil. Then when the park underwent a refurbishment in 2002, they protected it even further by creating a rubber seal around all the trash so no waste could leak into the groundwater.
Even though it’s safely covered with topsoil, all that festering, decomposing trash does create flammable methane gas as a byproduct. Mount Trashmore deals with this problem in the form of vents placed at the top of the mountain. When a sufficient amount of methane gas has built, these vents release a delightful, trashy smell that wafts over the park.
But Mount Trashmore is about more than just the mountain. All of the amenities that are found at other parks can also be found at Trashmore – picnic facilities, running trails, a playground, a fishing lake, and even a large skate park all grace the grounds of Mount Trashmore Park.
I visited the park on a sunny and unseasonably warm afternoon and the park was full of activity – people flew kites high on top of the ‘mountain’, a group of runners were finishing their long-distance run, mothers were taking their children for walks and multiple people were exercising by sprinting up the mountain then walking back down.
As I strolled around the park, the fact that I was standing on top of tons of trash (quite literally) faded from my mind. Instead, I was admiring the view from the top of the mountain, enjoying the sunshine, and taking in the beauty of the park. What at first was a novelty to me instead just seemed like a great place to be.
I’m sure that’s exactly what the designers of this park had in mind – creating a recreational destination for the people of Virginia Beach. And when there is perfectly good land on top of a trash pile, why let it go to waste? Of course they had to have a good sense of humor when building this park, and thus the name.
Mount Trashmore is a great example of how otherwise undesirable sites can be repurposed for public use. 35+ years on it’s still THE park to be at in Virginia Beach.