What happens when a school bus no longer takes kids to school? It goes to a school bus graveyard of course. The most fantastic one is located in Alto, Ga., along Highway 23 in Habersham County. Here’s why you’ll want to stop at this unusual and pretty awesome roadside attractions, which by the way, is FREE.
The School Bus Graveyard: An Accessible Outdoor Art Gallery
One of my favorite parts of travel is finding the hidden gems along the way. Those places that aren’t necessarily in the guide book, but locals offhandedly tell you about. The School Bus Graveyard is one of those places.
Alonzo Wade had an auto parts business in North Georgia. In addition to the cars, he collected old school buses. The parts were similar to big trucks and people liked the bus shell for storage, RV’s, and just lots of different uses, so there were quite a few lying around the auto parts grounds.
In the early 2000’s people started stealing parts from other cars in the Wade’s junk yard which was now run by his son Walter. Someone suggested Walter use the old school bus shells to create a fence to deter the vandals.
And just like if you give a pig a pancake….The fence attracted local artists, who saw a blank canvas to paint. Walter, who also drives a school bus for Banks County, came home one day to a mural painted on one of his buses by a student he drove, along with a note, “sorry about the bus.”
I’m not sure if he was truly sorry about the bus, but I know I’m not. It sparked an accessible, outdoor art gallery that’s quite a fun find. The painting the student did is called “the Ghost.” It is still on the bus and a favorite of Walter’s wife Debbie.
A Visit to the School Bus Graveyard
We happened to pass the School Bus Graveyard on a trip to Lake Rabun with friends. On a return adventure with my 12-year-old and a friend to check out the corn maze at Jaemor Farms, which is literally across the street from the School Bus Graveyard, we added a little extra time to our schedule to stop and take in the art on the buses.
The boys scampered up the hill and found a wonderland of graffiti art. We had a blast walking the wall, and discovering the treasures along the way.
As luck would have it, we met Debbie and Walter Wade, the caretakers of the graveyard, and owners of Alonzo Wade Auto Parts. They agreed to let me interview them, and tell us a little about the history of the graveyard in their own words. So be sure to watch the video to hear their story.
Tips for a visit to the School Bus Graveyard
- You can see the graveyard off Highway 23 in Habersham County. The actual address for your GPS is Rudy Dr, Alto, GA 30510.
- Turn off onto Ruby Road and park along the side of the road. You can climb the hill to get to the buses.
- Be sure to bring bug spray, this area is not mowed, and it was quite buggy on our visit.
- This exhibit is not wheelchair or stroller accessible. There is a bit of a climb on a primitive hill to get to the top of the hill.
- @nackcrispyprintz is one of the artists. You can find him online.
- Be respectful. Take only pictures, leave only footprints. Walter and Debbie are gracious enough to allow visitors to enjoy the art on the buses, but as the saying goes, a few bad apples can spoil the bunch.
- The Alonzo Wade Auto Parts business is behind the buses. This is a place of business, so again, be respectful and enjoy the buses from the highway side.
- There is currently no charge to view the buses, or take pictures. Enjoy!
If you like the School Bus Graveyard, you may want to check out Old Car City, USA.