A treasure trove of antique cars, trucks, tractors, and memorabilia sits off the beaten path.
Central Texas offers thousands of miles of lightly traveled roads, dotted with small towns. Vast stretches of farm and ranch land stretch for miles. Occasionally, an old car or truck can be seen sitting in a field, a lonely reminder of better days. A few miles west of Graham, though, the mesquite bush gives way to a riot of color: a large collection of antique cars, trucks, farm tractors, signage, steel chickens, giant nutcrackers, and other memorabilia sits just behind a barbed wire fence.
The Bearville collection consists of hundreds of vehicles: cars, light trucks, heavy trucks, farm tractors, and at least one antique school bus. There are store signs, gas station signs, street signs, and highway signs. There are colorful steel chickens. And yes, one life-sized nutcracker guards the field. The TV show American Pickers reportedly filmed an episode there. The family that owns the collection allows photographers to roam the collection — for a fee (a donation to a local charity).
My sister and I discovered Bearville while enroute to the Fort Griffin State Historical Site for a night photo safari. We quickly made a mental map pin and vowed to stop upon our return. When we made it back, it was under the worst possible light: blazing Texas sun straight overhead. I popped a telephoto lens on the camera, dabbed on some sunscreen, and walked the fence line amidst waist-high weeds and a bumper crop of grasshoppers. I was like a kid at the candy store, only on the outside looking in, window shopping. The harsh light and limited sight lines made for only a handful of sub-par photos. I’d definitely like to go back when conditions are better and I have cash in my pocket.