Harvey Trucks Take Visitors For A Ride Into The Past
If you’re heading to the coast on Crawfordville Highway, on the right side of the road about two miles before you hit the intersection with the coastal highway you’ll see a sprawling live oak hanging over rows of perfectly arranged rusty cars left over from older generations. And in Wakulla County it’s become something of a photographer’s destination.
“We’re actually on the Big Bend Scenic Byway, which is a nationally designated scenic byway and we have this in our guide as one of the most photographed spots on the byway, which is kind of interesting with all the nature and the Saint Marks lighthouse and all the things that people might want to photograph down here this is big,” said Pam Portwood with the Wakulla County Tourism Development Council.
Portwood said almost every time she drives by the cars she sees somebody visiting or taking
photos. Sometimes it’s been wedding parties or high school kids before the prom and sometimes it’s Jeff True a hobbyist photographer who’s lived in the area for almost a decade.
“One day about 7 years ago I stopped here for the first time and I’ve been hooked. I do a lot of art shows, local festivals around town and my most popular photographs are of the cars,” True said.
True has gotten to know the cars over the years and noticed how they’ve changed and aged
each time he’s come back to photograph them. And Pam Portwood said she thinks that’s one of the reasons photographers like the spot – because of the personality the cars have and the stories they could tell.
“It’s always been very curious to me how exactly they got here, how it is that they’re lined up the way that they are,” Portwood said.
It turns out the cars, called the “Harvey Trucks” by their owner all come from the Harvey family farm. They’re lined up in chronological order. And for their owner, Pat Harvey, they’re filled with memories.
“This is a ’59 Ford. That’s the one I took my driver’s test in, and got my driver’s license,” Harvey said.
The cars and land used to belong to Harvey's dad, and now, they’re his. He says his dad kept the cars to use for parts, but Harvey lined them up because he says he wanted to see what they looked like all next to each other. And now they tell part of the story of Harvey's life.
There’s the first car he remembers riding in--a rusted out 1941 Ford pickup, and there’s the first car he drove, the car he used to take on dates and his family’s first car – a brand new station wagon. It was painted dark green. And Harvey said it was a nice upgrade from the trucks he’d been riding around in as a boy.
“All we had had was that pickup right there or either one of the big trucks back there. We used to ride in the cow body. We’d put a board across there and all sit up there on that board going down the highway and get a lot of bugs like a motor cycle without a windshield,” Harvey said.
Now Harvey says he’s glad for other people to get a chance to enjoy the cars. Though he’s not quite sure how the place should be classified. It’s clearly not a junk yard, but at the same time it’s not a museum.
“Some people say art. There was one lady taking pictures and all she was taking was the broken windows or the glass and she said that broken glass was art,” Harvey said.
But he said there are downsides to making the cars available for the general public to see too.
Just a few months ago someone stole four of radiators from the cars. Harvey assumes they were sold for scrap metal and he said that’s frustrating.
“Makes me want to just load them up and move them all when I come out and find something missing. I expected the emblems and they’ve already got most of the emblems and pieces of chrome,” Harvey said.
And for a while, Harvey thought a local ordinance against keeping junk cars in your yard in public view might mean he’d have to get rid of the display. But Wakula County Commission Chair Alan Brock said the Harvey Trucks have been grandfathered in.
“We do have a junk car ordinance where you can’t just collect cars in your yard forever. But this family started this well before we passed the ordinance and they’re grandfathered in so they can stay here forever,” Brock said.
Brock says the community really does appreciate the Harvey family for letting everyone enjoy their historical collection. And Harvey says he’s glad for the chance to share it. He says he likes to think his son will take over caring for the space for him when the time comes just like he did for his own dad, so both the cars and the memories will stay on the Harvey farm.
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