Each summer my husband and I spend a week at Holden Beach taking in the sunshine, relaxing by the sound of the waves, and exploring everything the quiet beach has to offer. A few years ago we begin a tradition of visiting Fort Apache each year – as it’s located only three miles from the Holden Beach Bridge.
If you have ever driven by Fort Apache, you may have been intimated by the squad car, crack head express bus (inspired by Breaking Bad), the assortment of toilets, or the dummies placed inside the parked cars. There is no reason to be frightened. This roadside attraction is eclectic and fun – a hoarders paradise or treasure hunters heaven!
Over the years, we had the honor to meet Dale Varnam, the owner of Fort Apache (aka Crazy Dale’s Junkyard). He’s a caring man, who has never met a stranger. He’s always ready to show you around the property, tell you about all the hidden gems, and share a laugh. He’s a spiritual gentleman who will tell you how God redirected his life. He helps also helps others through Fort Apache – a few years ago, we met a man who was just released from jail a few days earlier that Dale hired to help get him back on his feet.
We were shocked to hear about the car crash that took place on December 29 at Fort Apache! A small SUV drove off the road and crashed into the building near the overhang and front door. Three people were hit, including Dale who was airlifted to the local hospital (and is still recovering). What a freak accident – and to think about the number of people who have stood in the spot the car came to a halt, including myself (while chatting with Dale).
Fort Apache is a unique and outrageous place – from junk to art to antiques – this place has it all! The front of the store is primarily a flea market with a quite unusual mix of items; the type of items you may find at any thrift store. It’s well-organized, but cluttered, with distinct areas for holiday items, kitchen goods, board games, art, and bric-a-brac. Most items are not priced, but there is always a friendly individual at the cash register who is happy to negotiate a fair price.
The fun really begins when you look past the items for sale! There are dummies, costumes, and props scattered throughout the building. Some of the items are funny, others are ironic – you never know what may be around the corner. Here’s a short video of the flea market area.
The best part of this roadside attraction is the unique town located outside, around the back of the main building. Words cannot describe this creative, “Main Street” lined with saloons, a funeral parlor, a drug store, barber shop, general store, and an abundance of old movie props. This is the perfect place for the inquisitive and creative types as many items have been repurposed as props for the towns. Dale has a unique talent for recycling other people’s trash into his own treasure and it’s evident in his town. Most of the items have been used in regional film and theater productions. Other materials are pieces of wood salvaged from deconstructed film sets. Apparently, there are also pieces from Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Sweeney Todd, Emerald City, and countless other movies!
According to Port City Daily, in a darkened corner in one of the warehouses, the Bailey Building & Loan sign from “It’s a Wonderful Life” can be spotted. Also located on the property is Zoltar, from movie “Big.”
Many vehicles line the dirt Main Street – one of which has a connection to the Godfather movie franchise. You don’t want to miss Herbie, the Love Bug either! It’s a visual smorgasbord – the perfect place for a photo shoot, an afternoon of exploring, or even a film production. You’ll laugh, you’ll be awed by the creativity, and you’ll wonder why you didn’t visit sooner!
The 28-acre Fort Apache has been featured on American Pickers and proves one man’s junk is another man’s treasure!
Fort Apache is located at 2357-2399 Stone Chimney Rd SW, Supply, NC 28462. Don’t be scared to stop; visitors are always welcome!!!