A Digital Journal

Photography by Tony Triolo

Rust in Peace

Ford is well represented at the auto graveyard

Ford is well represented at the auto graveyard

    It was inevitable.  I knew that at some point, I would join the throngs of fellow photographers who have made the trek to Old Car City in north Georgia.  Although the establishment has been located just fifty miles north of Atlanta for the past 80 years, only now is it garnering the intense attention of amateur  and professional photographers.  It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I begin to hear of the place or to see some of the amazing photography produced there.  In the past couple of years, I have seen at least a dozen exhibitions of Old Car City art plus countless postings on photo web sites, blogs, Flickr and the like.  Needless to say, it has become quite a popular place.  So, forgive me.  I am decidedly late to the dance, and nothing that I have photographed here hasn’t been captured before, but maybe my offerings present a slightly different interpretation.

Rust in peace

Rust in peace

I drove over to Old Car City in White, Georgia last week on a hot, humid day.  It’s easy to get overwhelmed.  After all, there are over 4500 cars, trucks, buses, tractors, etc. sitting on approximately 35 acres of land.  The owner guessed that I wouldn’t make it out of the first few acres in the four hours I had left before closing time.  He based his prediction on the fact that I had brought along a tripod.  He’s apparently seen enough photographers come through Old Car City to know that the ones who show up with a tripod are serious photographers and take things very slow.  He was right.  I never made it out of the first section of junked cars.  Fortunately, the first section, which is closest to the main office is home to some of the oldest and most photogenic vehicles on the site.  This is where OCC all began back in the late 40’s, when the owner of an old general store began to see more value in junked cars than in supplying butter and eggs to the folks.  World War II had begun and the demands for scrap steel and rubber were high.  Vehicles was bought and sold at a significant profit.

Borgward Isabella

The short-lived German Borgward Isabella is represented

Spider-webbed window

Spider-webbed window

It wasn’t until the 1970’s, when the store owner’s son took over the operation of the salvage yard, that things began to change.  Instead of scrapping old Fords, Chevies, Lincolns and Cadillacs for their parts, the new owner began to turn the place into his own personal car collection.  He would continue to acquire new vehicles, but seldom sold one, pricing them so high that he discouraged buyers.  Slowly, his collection transitioned from junkyard to art collection.  His collection has grown into its current state and is now billed as the world’s largest old car junkyard.  The fact that these vehicles have resided here for so long, decades in most cases, is what has created the understandable appeal for photographers, as well as others.  The years of rust and decay combined with layers of pine needles, leaves, moss and branches provides the background canvas for these relics of another era.  Automobile badges that have long since disappeared from the American lexicon are here.  There are Corvairs, Galaxies, Comets and even an old Borgward Isabella is represented.

Caddy hood ornament

Caddy hood ornament

Cars remain stacked as they arrived

Cars remain stacked as they arrived decades ago

One of the first (of the many) signs you will see touring the property proclaims Old Car City to be a photographer’s paradise.  I guess it is.  I was only able to spend half a day there on my first visit, but I know I will have to return very soon.  After all, I did only skim the surface of the 4500 cars on the lot.  My guess is that I have 4400 more to go.  On this initial visit, I concentrated on photographing details like car hood ornaments, badges, hub caps and the like.  I need another day to concentrate on some of the vehicles themselves.  I’ll wait for an overcast day, which is more conducive for photographing metal objects under the dappled shade of hundreds of pine trees.  If you plan to visit yourself, I’d recommend that you bring along water and insect repellent.  The mosquitoes can be irksome at times.  There is a fee to get into Old Car City, and it varies based on whether you are a shooter or non-shooter.  Admission fee for lookers is $15.00 but for folks with a camera it’s $25.00.  If you are a pro with models in tow (a common occurrence) the fee is negotiable.  I’d recommend that you arrive early so you can have a full day there.  Many photographers book a room the night before so as to get started as soon as the place opens up at 9:00 am.  They are only open Wednesday through Saturday.

The Buick Dynaflow

The Buick Dynaflow

 

June 11, 2014 Posted by | Georgia, Photography, Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment