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What is the strange place on Stone Chimney Road going toward Holden Beach?

Andrew Dunn
Dale Varnam

Dale Varnam, owner of Fort Apache on Stone Chimney Road in Brunswick County. (StarNews photo by Andrew Dunn)

Dummies sit in police cars. A few cowboy-like figures hang from nooses. A set of toilets rests in the grass, a pair of legs coming out of one of its bowls.

It’s known as Fort Apache, and it has drawn stares from people driving down Stone Chimney Road through Brunswick County for years.

“I guess I’d just call it art,” said the owner, 59-year-old Dale Varnam.

The odd assortment is a draw to Varnam’s scrap yard business, which sits behind the fort’s walls.

He says he collects the props from movie and theatrical sets, and puts them out for people to look at.

A few pieces have drawn a little controversy from neighbors. The Confederate flag, for one.

“When you do things like that, you have a lot to deal with,” he said, also saying he means no ill-will to anyone.

But Varnam said he also wants to make people think.

“Sometimes,” he said, “it’s hard to tell the dummies from the real people.”

Varnam is also well-known in the area for his participation in a drug raid that made headlines.

In 1988, Varnam avoided prison time on three dozen cocaine trafficking charges after helping investigators indict 70 others in a wide-reaching sting, according to StarNews archived articles.

Four years later, though, he was sentenced to 35 years after pleading guilty to several breaking and entering charges.

He was released from prison in 2004, state records show.

User-contributed question by:
Maude Brown

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