Down a long country road in the Georgia mountain gap there’s a place where one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Every year, tourists from all over the world flock to north Georgia to experience a one of a kind attraction. But many Georgians have no idea this hidden gem is in their own backyard.

"There’s a lot of history here. It’s very awesome," said photographer Miguel Castillo.

"This is just a getaway. It’s a nice place to getaway," added Don Richter, a Tennessee photographer. "It’s just a very good place to visit. Just to get away from things."

And around these parts, there’s only one man in the driver’s seat who’s always revved up, unlike the vintage cars on his lot.

"Walter Dean Lewis. Born and raised in a junkyard," said Lewis, the Old Car City Mayor.

His daughter Tracy quips, "Heavy metal, made in the USA."

For decades, Dean Lewis has been the honorary mayor of this so-called city he created.

"Well you know I’ve been called a lot worse, so I don’t mind it. No. Call me whatever just as long as you call me at supper time," said Lewis.

And you can call this place legendary, heck the Mayor’s buddy even wrote a song about it.

"I don’t care who you are or where you’re from you’ve got some history here to see," said Lewis' friend Eddie McDaniel.

Old Car City is the world’s largest known classic car junkyard attracting thousands of tourists who want to take a trip down memory lane.

Don Richter rolled in from Bristol, Tennessee pulling his camera gear in tow.

"Since I’m probably as old as half the cars in this lot it’s nice to see some of this stuff that was made in my lifetime," he said.

Miguel Castillo captured every moment of his picture-perfect trip.

"I’ve seen everything from Cadillacs, Oldsmobile’s, Buicks."

It only took him an hour to travel here from Alpharetta, Georgia.

"By the way, Hi boss! I’m sick," said Castillo jokingly.

And another guy came with his family all the way from Brittany, France.

"I prefer this place because I love old cars and for me it’s very representative of the American life here," explained Eddie.

This isn’t your typical junkyard. It’s a photographer’s paradise and just past the fork in the road, there’s car art circle.

"Well this junkyard used to be our living. But now it’s turned into art, nature and history. And that’s what people come for," said Lewis.

"I’m hoping to find something while taking pictures that tells the story of the vehicle, not just the fact that it’s here and old," said Castillo.

"You miss all of the shots you don’t take," said photographer Don Richter. "That’s probably a good philosophy for a photographer. If you don’t take them, you don’t have them."

Among the many artifacts here, you’ll even find the last car Elvis Presley bought back in 1977.

"This is 40-years of work," said Lewis. And who knew the mayor himself is an artist in his own right. "I’m a doodler. I don’t call myself an artist. I’m a doodler."

In his doodle room at Old Car City, he’s turned hundreds of Styrofoam cups into canvases.

"We call it junkyard paradise. It’s got raised letters. It took a while to do that because you’ve got to keep bearing down."

And right next to his cup collection are his precious paintings. So, in the foothills of the North Georgia mountains where life is like art.

Those who spend time here understand that to live well is to practice the art of living.

"It’s something that you’re most likely not to see anywhere else."

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.