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One the best things about traveling two lanes, picking through piles of dust and rust, is the people you meet along the way. They are the people that love junk as much as I do and sometimes, they have a way of articulating what I find hard to explain.

Lots of people believe in history and preservation. Lots of people love rusty, old stuff, but not all of them understand my love of AMERICAN MADE old stuff. Let’s face it, America is still in diapers and our old stuff, in the grand scheme of things, just isn’t all that old. Our history has just begun to be written.

On the road in Virginia last year, I met a hard bargaining woman from Portugal at The Car & Carriage Caravan Museum at Luray Caverns. I heard a lot no’s that day (and even saw one as she wrote it in the dust of an old truck fender), but she also said something while we there that totally summed up the importance of our American Made “junk”.

Being raised in Portugal, “When I first got here,” she began, “I didn’t understand it. Where I come from, everything is so old, so I saw something here that was a 100 years, 150 years…I thought, well, it’s basically just junk. But now I’ve gotten to appreciate it. It’s not the time spent, it’s what’s accomplished in a little time, and for that, what happened in America is unique.”

I guess sometimes the perspective of someone who wasn’t born here is all we really need. Our American story, our progress, it’s unique, and the junk that tells that story, that shows that progress… well, it’s just priceless!

See ya on the back roads!

Your picker, Mike Wolfe


Miss the episode? It’s available on the History Channel YouTube Channel:

Plan your visit to Luray Caverns by visiting them online here:

Photo Courtesy of Luray Caverns Facebook Page, October 2014.


18 thoughts on “The Value of America’s Junk”

  1. Ted Millard

    Love old things, but don’t always know when they’re valuable. Have learned some from “American Pickers” but as in anything there is still much more to learn. I realize each item has a story and since I love History so, each time tells the story of their “Junk” I realize that is one of the most important factors in the game we play with “Junk”. Hope to follow your blog and learn even more. Thanks for including me
    as a eager participant.

    1. Janell Darlene Post Author

      Thanks for stopping in to see us on our very first day here at Two Lanes! Look forward to seeing more of you.

  2. Dakota Goodwin

    Thank you! For the heads up and can’t wait to learn new more things on here and on the show “american pickers” plus more american history knowledge…I started being picker when I first watch your since the first time and collected coins like a state quarters and more and more old American money and I started looking in the history of old American money because I’m still amazed of the story of behind and I’m still am doing it and collected more old american money and a lot antiques too.

  3. Margaret

    Love your show and love having you on my Facebook page. My husband and I have been going to yard sale and auctions for a long time. Last year I purchased two employee manuals for the Playboy Bunny Club. I paid 25 cents each and sold them for $285. on ebay. That was probably one of my great finds. Love your show.


  4. Thomas Craig

    I’ve been watching American Pickers and the Canadian version Canadian Pickers, pretty much from inception. “I love the involvement plus the fascinating stories that is attributed to the earthy picks of junk, that, does coincide with our early, antique, and classic historical man-made creative pieces.”
    The picks with George Barris, is only apart of the great hunt, for something special a collector would like to add to his or her collection. I’m sure if Mike & Frank continued picking Hollywood, California, there is still lot’s of findings to unearth!
    I thought the pick with lead guitarist of Cheap Trick was an awesome show, I hope they can hit more musician’s such as ‘motor-city madman, Ted Nugent!’ Or Alice Cooper; Lynyrd Skynyrd….everyone who know’s music from the ’50’s to ’80’s, the players, behold pieces of history, those are special items whether sold, or on loan for special display, shows their timely moments of created history.

  5. R Andrew Ohge

    Paradise-Is Down A Two-Lane Blacktop

    First, we were drawn by the land,
    enticed by the promise of freedom…
    fresh faces in new places, where
    we built our farms, our stores, mills
    smithies, with our own dreams
    and our own Hands, paying our way
    with the sweat of our brows,
    leaving our bones and legacies
    as our testimony to those
    who would follow.

    Then, great factories replaced
    the smithies, concrete towers
    supplanted the wheel mills, and
    we were drawn from the land
    to the growing cities for what we
    believed were better dreams,
    brighter futures,…”the good life.”

    The farms we left were swallowed
    by corporations, the family
    store was neglected by the lure
    and flash of the corporate chains.

    We were the great middle class,
    living a vision, that for most of us,
    never truly existed, leaving
    nothing, but broken dreams
    as our legacy.

    Times and paradigms pass.
    Some of our small towns just died,
    some were swallowed by the
    circling cities, others are
    barely hanging on, yet,
    here and there, new pioneers
    are returning, bring their
    fresh faces to the old places,
    rediscovering the old ways and
    creating new ones, as America
    finds her roots again.

    Hollywood, Broadway, & Prime Time
    doesn’t show our true image.
    Our story isn’t on CNN or in USA Today.

    We’ve journeyed back, off the
    Interstate, rebuilding the
    Courthouse square, starting farms,
    building houses, stores, and families,
    infusing our enterprises with
    Faith, truth, love, patriotism, and a
    determination to not allow our
    unique visions or our new freedom
    to ever be swallowed by mere
    sound-bites, glamour, glitz,
    or pulp fiction.

    The America and world
    we must become is the one
    we always knew in our hearts.

    We had only to remember that
    Paradise is down a
    two-lane blacktop,
    where the tree of
    wisdom waits for all
    who prefer revelation
    over information.

    The super highways
    and bypasses, the
    jets, planes, buses,
    and trains can only take you
    by the “American Dream”.

    The turn down that two-lane
    is a calculated decision
    to arrive there, a journey
    you take, only if you’re
    hungry for a new vision,
    if you’re ready to put down
    some new roots, and make
    your own legacy with
    your own hands and the
    sweat of your own brow.

    If you’ve caught
    that pioneer spirit,
    then here’s the place
    to draw close to the tap
    roots of the “American Dream”,
    where the juices flow
    strong and rich, near the power,
    right at the source.

    You have truly arrived,
    friend, for you’ve
    come to a powerful
    place to begin anew,
    where you can find purpose,
    change the landscape, acquire
    wisdom and real estate, and
    create your legacy, where your
    accomplishments and children
    earn respect and receive honor,
    where your babies and bones
    are attended with reverent
    tender care by real peacemakers.

    Oh yes…if you destroy,
    mar, steal, or harm
    those and that which
    is in their care,
    you’ll have a fight
    on your hands, the like
    you’ll not soon forget.

    No, real peacemakers are
    the architects, the restorers,
    the creators and shapers,the
    healers, the comforters and
    nurturers, the sowers and
    caretakers of paradise.
    They are recreating and
    shaping their future and
    shall be counted blessed.

    No need for a plane, bus,
    or a train to come.
    We’re waiting at the
    gates of paradise at the
    end of any two-lane blacktop,
    beckoning, as Lady Liberty
    has for over a century,
    “Send us Your tired, your
    poor, your down-trodden,
    struggling to be free…”

    We’ll be waiting.

    Written by R Andrew Ohge 2003

  6. Ray Rowan

    Mike your show on wolds only tattoo school made me realize my eagle tattoo I have on my shoulder that was done by an eighty nine year old lady in1972 in Columbus Georgia was so special mrs Cleveland said it was the last one she’s ever going to do I was in the 101st at jump school in fort Benning I wanted an eagle to resemble the screaming eagles I was so proud to be part of we were all getting ready for Nam at that time and I wanted it ever though if I compliant about the pain from it I could be charged with destruction to government property I talked to bill he said you all got all of the flash I would love a picture of you holding the flash with my bird it cost me 25dollars back then

  7. John Armstrong

    There is a lot of value in American Junk. Just think back around the time a lot of the things you picked were made. Folks back then took their ingenuity and creativeness to make things serve an important purpose. They also made things to last and endure the test of time. These are things you see on a daily basis and provide a tremendous insight to the pride people took into making whatever.

    I wish folks nowadays would take the same pride in the things they make. America seems to be a throwaway society and when they are finished using something, it is many times thrown into the trash bin. We see this in electronics, cars, diapers, paper cups, packaging, etc. This was not the mind set of our ancestors where waste not meant want not. Our ancestors made use of everything and nothing went to waste.

    During the Great Depression when the Arts & Crafts movement was in full swing, we saw people making things because they could not afford to buy them. And most times, what they made was of high quality and lasted a life time. This is what you see daily in your picks and gives us a glimpse of what was in the minds of the people of that day and time.

    Thanks for bringing this all to light for each of us. Thanks for the great education about people and things we would have never known about!

  8. Kevin Fleming

    Hi Mike,
    The thing I appreciate most about American Pickers, is the story behind the stuff. I love the education I get about valuable rust and dust, and I like the bantering between you Frank, and Danielle, but I really get a kick out of the people you meet, and how we can relate their lives to the American experience. Looking forward to every new episode.

  9. mark

    love your show mike and frank you remind me a lot of my better self
    i like anything old and rusty it gives me pleasure just like your show
    i’d like to see more 70’s and early 80’s BMX bikes being found i collect bikes and restore them to there
    former glory it’s expensive but i enjoy it the good thing about this my chrome plater lives around the corner from me
    he picks up my parts takes them to he’s factory to be plated and then drops them off at my house. how’s that for service.
    i’m addicted to your show i can’t miss a episode from Vic Australia

  10. Tony Russart

    Smart guys, non political, caring for and preserving Americas past. Not only us in the present time, but I believe the people who ever came in contact with the thousands or more of these items Antique Archaeology saved is thanking them as well. Visited the store in Iowa last July, loved it, as I looked at the motorcycles on display, I could not get out of my mind who rode them and who were there families etc. So many stories.
    Visiting again soon, nice wineries in the area. Antiques and wine, I’m good.

  11. George F. Biggs

    As a foundryman of 50 years plus, I so enjoy watching your shows whenever you come across iron castings. I can relate to making them either production machine or by hand parting and hard labour. I also love the entire show but I have this special interest in all castings and materials and look forward to watching your show for many more years. I was watching The Canadian Pickers show once and swear that I seen an anvil that I had made about 25 years ago. Wouldn’t it be awesome to see something that I made on your show? Keep up the good picking Mike.

  12. Denise

    all I can say is that we love your show and I am learning to be a picker now too! I just love antiques.
    p.s. .we love Danielle! I hope I can be as smart and savy as she is .
    keep the shows coming.!!

  13. Edward Majzlik

    I am a 93 yr old WWll veteran and never threw anything away. I have many items from the 1920’s and even earlier that I have saved from my Dad. I would like to sell everything I have for a fair price which would take hours to go thru, so I don’t care to be on TV. From Dearborn Mi.

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