Dukes live on in Bolivar County
by Rory Doyle
Nov 19, 2012 | 3978 views | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Danny Melton, a longtime "Dukes of Hazzard" fan displays two personally handcrafted models he had autographed by all the stars from the popular '80s television series. Melton also maintains an extensive collection of memorabilia from the show.
Danny Melton, a longtime "Dukes of Hazzard" fan displays two personally handcrafted models he had autographed by all the stars from the popular '80s television series. Melton also maintains an extensive collection of memorabilia from the show.
slideshow
Imagine Bo and Luke Duke hiding out on the back roads of Bolivar County wreaking havoc with local officials — instead of Boss Hogg and Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane in Hazzard County.

For fans of the popular '80s television series "The Dukes of Hazzard," that stretch of imagination isn’t too far fetched thanks to local memorabilia collector Danny Melton.

In a cabin off of Miss. Highway 8 outside of Cleveland, the loyal fan has decorated his office/man cave with an extensive Dukes collection, complete with over 20 autographs.

"I watched the show from the very beginning," said Melton, an appraiser for an insurance company. "I began collecting Dukes of Hazzard items in the '80s, but I've really been adding to it in the last 10-12 years."

Melton said his love for the show was sparked by his longtime passion for cars — specifically the 1969 Dodge Charger, which the Duke boys called General Lee.

"I bought my '69 Charger 22 years ago, and for the past 22 years I've been saying I'm going to build a General Lee out of it," said Melton. "I still haven't done it — I've always said it's got to be exact."

As the years passed and his impressive collection grew, Melton started running out of space for his accumulation.

"Before my son was born three years ago I knew we were going to have a hard time fitting everything in the house," he said. "We needed to turn my old office into a nursery, and I like to build, so I built this 12 foot by 16 foot cabin."

With just enough space to house his office computer, Melton's cabin is decorated to the ceiling with posters, calendars, autographed photos from the actors and hundreds of General Lee model cars — in essence, his office is a small Dukes of Hazzard museum.

Aside from the Charger, perhaps the most extraordinary pieces in Melton's assemblage are two miniature models depicting scenes from the show, both of which are marked with a bit of Hollywood history.

He first crafted a model of General Lee suspended mid-air over a broken bridge while being chased by Sheriff Rosco.

Upon completion, he showcased his work at the 2007 DukeFest reunion in Nashville, Tenn., where actors and fans were blown away by his creativity.

The following year he completed a second model, this time of the Boar's Head bar surrounded by vehicles that appeared regularly in the plot.

The detailed and intricate works, which each took about 30 hours to design, astonished the show's actors when Melton brought them both to the 2008 DukeFest in Atlanta.

"Everyone was just oohing and ahing over them," said Melton. "I didn't originally plan on it, but all the stars autographed the models. They've turned into something really special and I don't think I'll ever let them go."

Melton said he's yet to see anything comparable to his replicas and he hasn't considered selling them to the fans that have inquired.

"Probably the only way I'd consider selling them is if I made enough money to buy another Charger."

Melton's country roots run deep, which is another reason he associated with the Bo and Luke.

"I've split my life between Greenwood, Tallahatchie County and Cleveland, so I've always been a country boy.

"When I was in my teens and early 20s, my friends and I had a lot of similarities with the show, being from small towns and driving fast cars — that's how we had fun."

An old VCR in his cabin is loaded with episodes that Melton still watches to remind him of his youth.

"Sometimes I watch with my son," he said. "It's not considered the best show ever made, but it has some good family values in it. Mainly we watch it because we love the cars."

While Melton still hasn't customized his Charger exactly like General Lee, it might be ready by the time he hands the keys over on his son's 21st birthday.