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State Park Surprise

Forgotten fleet of cars part of Providence Canyon landscape
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Looking at the size of the tree growing through the cab, this
mid-’50s GMC pickup must have been laying on its side for a
couple decades.

Each year, we take the time to travel the secondary highways. We also alter our route to make sure we cover new territory. Hiking in some of the beautiful state parks along the way is almost as much fun as the destination itself (well, almost).

This past November, we had the fortune to intertwine two of our favorite hobbies — old cars and hiking — by accident. One of our last stops before the Moultrie Swap Meet was Providence Canyon State Conservation Park in southwestern Georgia. The park comprises 1,003 acres about 40 miles south of Columbus and only about 15 miles from the Alabama state line. Often referred to as Georgia’s “Little Grand Canyon,” we were curious to check it out.

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Judging by the trademark two-tone painted door separated by the
long-gone stainless trim, this car appears to be a 1955 Ford
Fairlane two-door, perhaps even a Crown Victoria model.

Unlike the Grand Canyon in Arizona, this canyon was formed in less than two centuries. The soil in this region is very sandy and soft. Due to poor farming practices in the 1800s, the massive gullies in Providence Canyon State Conservation Park were caused by erosion. We decided to take the 3-mile canyon trail that leads into and eventually around most of the canyon. The fragile formations in the canyon are beautiful and very picturesque.

Midway around the hiking trail, we stumbled upon an old homestead that instantly piqued our curiosity. Here, in their “natural” state, were seven vehicles from the ’50s, left behind by the homestead’s last owner. The park decided the ecosystem would be less impacted if they were left in place, so there they remain. For anyone even slightly interested in old cars, it adds a twist of excitement not expected on a nature hike.

This photo is of an early-1950s Ford pickup, probably larger than
a 1/2-ton model. One of its doors was found in a gully 100 feet away.

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When we were done having fun with the vehicles and trying to identify each of them, we finished our hike. As we were just about done, we noticed a bus load of elementary students from Dothan, Ala., were headed our way. One of the advisors excitedly asked us if they were going the right way to see the old cars. We told them it was less than a mile ahead on the trail. It was great to see these folks excited to see some old cars. We were thinking, as they rushed down the trail, maybe some of those kids will get bitten by the old car bug back in the woods that day.

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This relic looks to be an upscale car judging by the brightwork.
Our best guess was a 1954-or-earlier Mercury.


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