If you’ve ever traveled on U.S. Highway 24 through Lake George, you’ve probably noticed the long line of bicycles along a fence and some old farm equipment near the Travel Port Campground. The menagerie of sorts belongs to Robert Gilley. Gilley has lived in Lake George for 72 years; the only time he was away from the area was while he served in the U.S. Army in the late 1960s. His grandfather homesteaded near Wilkerson Pass and raised cattle, sheep and potatoes. The Gilleys are as much a part of the area as the lake itself, even having a road named for the family. In 1994 he bought and took over the Travel Port Campground and is the third owner in fifty years.
Gilley said that people started giving him bicycles, and about three years ago he took the thirteen he already had accumulated and placed them along the fence. The bikes kept coming, and recently they counted 125. The bikes are all needing repair and are basically out to pasture. Gilley laughed telling the story about a man who stopped in and claimed one of the bicycles was his, that had been stolen twenty years before. It was one the man had customized, making a boy’s bike out of a girl’s bike, and had fashioned an oak crossbar.
Among the bikes stands an automated dinosaur that one of the many campers at the Travel Port made from scrap and gave to Gilley. It now stands like a sentinel among the bikes, rotating slowly as if to greet onlookers. Gilley doesn’t sell any of the bikes, but if a kid really wants one, he’d help him out.
It is obvious from the comments made from others in the reception office of the Travel Port Campground that Bob Gilley is respected and loved by many. Gilley loves to collect things, and people give him various items all the time.
As for the farm equipment, people donate that, too. “Like that baler out there, someone wanted to give it to me and well, I just had to take it,” Gilley said smiling with a twinkle in his eye.