Contents of Gallopsville, a Wild West town in Tampa, will be auctioned

TAMPA ― Ron Gallops was mocked in the 1970s, and he understands why.

His idea seemed odd.

Let’s see a Lincoln Continental in half, he suggested, strap its front half to a bed and create a luxury pickup truck.

But no one was laughing when the idea caught on, caught on and allowed him to retire at 39.

After that, most took Gallops seriously when, in the early 1980s, he presented a bizarre post-retirement plan for an acre of land off Nebraska Avenue in North Tampa.

He wanted to replicate a small town in the Wild West. So he did. Called Gallopsville, it is still there, on a dirt road at 914 E 128th Ave.

There’s a livery, jail, sheriff’s office, blacksmith’s shop, railroad depot, traveling carnival exhibit, and ice cream shop, each furnished with true-to-era vintage items.

Gallops did it for fun, but also made money through photo shoots and TV productions that rented the land.

Now he says Gallopsville time has come and gone. He has sold the property and plans to move to Dade City.

On Saturday morning, his vintage Old West collection will be sold at an on-site auction.

Ronald Gallops, creator of Gallopsville. [ LAUREN WITTE | Times ]

There are telephones, cash registers, signs, bathtubs, a piano, a barber’s chair and pole, an ice box, an outhouse, kitchen utensils, pots and even a miniature locomotive.

There are also modern and even futuristic objects in Gallopsville.

None of the race cars custom-built by Gallops on site will be auctioned off, nor will the motorcycle he designed to look like a military aircraft.

But he’s ready to part with a homemade, working “Inspector Gadget” car that mimics the one driven by the cartoon and movie character, as well as a “steampunk vehicle” accessory designed to look like he can fly, navigate and drive while fending off bad guys. with a harpoon gun.

In total, approximately 200 objects will be auctioned.

“He’s a creative genius,” said Gallops’ friend Russ Tabone. “He is planning something, and he can do it. I asked him for years to open this place as a museum so that people could come and see what he can do. But he never wanted to attract attention.

Galops is indeed humble, shaking his head in praise.

“I needed an office, that’s all,” Gallops said of how Gallopsville came to be. “I looked at this piece of property and said, ‘My God, there are beautiful oak trees and everything. So I built a desk and then the rest. That’s all. I had a plan and it worked. »

This problem-solving ability, Gallops said, comes from his parents.

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He was one of 11 children raised in Tampa’s low-income Six Mile Creek neighborhood.

Her mother was a housewife and her father had a blue-collar job for the State Department of Highways. They wanted their children to attend Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School in Ybor City, but could barely afford tuition for one let alone 11, Gallops said. So the church let her parents pay through volunteer hours.

“Once the doors opened, my parents were at school, at church, doing something to feel like they were paying,” Gallops said.

He also did his part.

By the age of four, Gallops said, he already knew how to fix and build things, like a bicycle, when his parents couldn’t afford it.

“The nuns always borrowed from me when they learned what I could do.” he said. “Fix a drawer, do this, do that. I failed fourth grade because I was helping more than I was learning.

A kitchen in Gallopsville.
A kitchen in Gallopsville. [ LAUREN WITTE | Times ]

Gallops dropped out of school after ninth grade and moved on from building bicycles to building go-karts and motorcycles, and then stock cars.

“An all-round automotive genius,” is how auctioneer John Harris described Gallops. “You would think he had multiple engineering degrees.”

In the 1970s, Gallops started his company Florida Motor Coach, which repaired and knocked down motor homes and cars and built custom coaches, limos and race cars.

But it was the idea of ​​creating Lincoln Continental trucks that allowed the company to grow to dozens of employees in two workshops.

A 1979 Tampa Tribune article on luxury trucks reported that Gallops spent 500 engineering hours and 240 production hours perfecting the process. Vehicle orders came from all over the country.

Then one day Gallops looked at his bank account and realized he had enough to live comfortably.

“I retired,” he said.

He helped every employee find a new job “because it’s the right thing to do,” Gallops said. He kept one of the buildings to work on his own projects.

“I would always fix and build stuff for people,” Gallops said. “But I wouldn’t solicit business. I worked when I wanted, on what I wanted.

That’s why he needed the office that started Gallopsville.

The Gallopsville Barbershop.
The Gallopsville Barbershop. [ LAUREN WITTE | Times ]

Gallops’ son and his friends helped erect this office. They and others over the years helped build the rest of the town and find the furnishings needed to complete it. A local Thunderbird Club named it Gallopsville after hosting a dance there. They declared Gallops mayor.

“We follow what we call Ron’s Law here,” laughed Gallops. “It means I do what I want.”

And what he wants to do next is move to a quiet lot in Dade City, away from the traffic that now roars through Gallopsville less than a mile away on Nebraska Avenue.

Gallops will likely continue to build race cars, but does not itself plan to establish a second city.

“At 80, he’s just ready to go out,” Tabone said. “But we will see. Like he said, he does what he wants.

A tire station in Gallopsville in Tampa.
A tire station in Gallopsville in Tampa. [ LAUREN WITTE | Times ]

If you are going to

Gallopsville Auctions

When: 10 a.m. Saturday

Where: 914 E. 128th Ave in Tampa

For more information:

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