dumps, or as they are now called, landfills. In more environmentally-unenlightened times stuff was just taken out to a rural area and dropped off. When dumps came into vogue they were situated on land that had natural hollows where the debris could be dumped.
Old landfills growing a problem
Eventually, people started noticing odors and wild animal populations increasing so dumps were turned into landfills with every day's deposits being covered up before nightfall. Municipalities started owning and managing landfills, much to their chagrin later, as in the case of the city of Dover, New Hampshire.
Dover has been grappling with what to do with its old landfill for 30 years and the story is a fascinating study in trying to find the right answer without having to spend too much. The problems began when water flowing below the sleeping landfill started to contaminate wells on its perimeter. Several years later the city figured it would go for Superfund status and have the federal government fund the cleanup. That was a bright spot until everybody found out the city was named one of the potentially responsible parties, or PRPs, and would have to cough up something toward the cleanup effort. There is much more to this story written in an easily understandable account at Foster's.com website.