Canton, GA

Old Car City: Paradise for Photographers and Car Buffs Near Canton, Georgia

DarrylBrooks

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Just about 15 miles northwest of Canton, Georgia, is a hidden and magical place called Old Car City. As in many cities, the natives aren't as familiar with local landmarks as tourists, and Old Car City is the same.

Most people in the Canton area have never heard of Old Car City. But photographers and classic car enthusiasts travel there from all over the world.

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Few photographers can resist the lure of an old rusty car. If one were walking through the woods and found a car like this, they would set up their tripod and dial in the correct exposure. But what if that car were in the middle of 34 acres of woods surrounded by 4,000 other vehicles just like it? If that were the case, then you would have to be at Old Car City, near Canton, Georgia, outside the tiny village of White, Georgia.

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Old Car City began as a small general store on Hwy 411 in 1931. This used to be a major north-south highway through Atlanta, but like Route 66 out west, it was replaced with interstates and became obsolete. But 91 years later, Old Car City is still family-owned and operated and has become a mecca for photographers and car buffs.

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I have only been there twice, but I am planning on returning soon. Both times I visited, there were only a few other people out there wandering through the woods. But in both cases, all of the people I spoke to were from another country, and they had traveled to the U.S. specifically to visit Old Car City outside Canton, Georgia.

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The owners of Old Car City not only allow photography, they encourage it. Dean Lewis, the current owner, has seen model shoots, videographers, and news crews from all over the world set up in his little woodland paradise. And no wonder. On both of my trips, I spent about four hours there and only saw a fraction of the cars.

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Admission is reasonable and cash only. If you want to wander through without taking any pictures, the price ranges from free to $20 depending on age. But who could possibly resist taking pictures at Old Car City? For the rest of us, it is $30, and active military gets half-price off any admission. If you want to set up a commercial shoot, you need to call ahead and make arrangements.

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You can't see much from the satellite image because most of the cars are under heavy tree cover, but it does show the place's scale. It's about a quarter-mile from the store to the back corner surrounding the lake. But that's in a straight line, and there are no straight lines here. On my first visit, I meandered aimlessly, constantly worried about missing something. On my second trip there, they had laid out some of the paths with directional arrows so that you could pass by every car there if you wanted to. And had the strength.

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It isn't easy to take in the scope of the place, and you are constantly shifting your focus from whole cars, or piles of them, to the tiniest details. I would definitely suggest taking a tripod, although I didn't on either of my trips. I was going for quantity and maximum captures. But, I would suggest you try to get there on an overcast day, and there are some pretty deep shadows under the trees. Especially if you try to shoot inside the cars.

If you are a photographer or an automobile enthusiast planning a trip to Canton, Georgia, you must include a trip up to Old Car City, U.S.A.

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I am a writer with over 16 years of experience and hundreds of articles. I write about photography, productivity, life skills, money management and much more.

Alpharetta, GA
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