Gambler 500 trash cleanup is coming

A car participating in last year’s Gambler 500 has a mattress strapped to its roof as its drivers stop to examine an abandoned car. A car participating in last year’s Gambler 500 is strapped with illegally dumped mattresses and sits parked next to a pile of other dumped items. A pair of beat up appliances sits abandoned on a Lincoln County back road. Geoff Peterson hopes to collect and dispose of them during this event.

LINCOLN COUNTY — Forested back roads can be a popular spot for recreation, but also for illegally dumping all kinds of refuse, from old appliances and defunct cars to common household garbage. 

Some residents have decided its time to help clean up the unseen parts of Lincoln County and have a little fun while doing so.

Geoff Peterson hopes to bring a miniature, family friendly version of the national Gambler 500 to Lincoln County in what he calls a “Fambler.”

Near the end of May, Peterson hopes to hold a two-day travel and camping weekend where Lincoln County residents will drive a small fleet of $500 vehicles into the back roads to collect all sorts of illegally dumped garbage and haul it to the local dump.

“It’ll be a two-day event running between Neskowin and Newport. We’ll probably go south to north using back roads as much as possible,” Peterson said. “One of the rules is that pavement is lava, and we try to stay off the main road. While you’re out there, you’ve gotta pick up as much garbage as possible. People abandon items like appliances, refrigerators, washers, dryers and things like that. People abandon vehicles out there, too, and our goal is to get out there and get as much of it as we can picked up.”

The event is based on the Gambler 500, which was started in central Oregon, but has since spread to a every state and has even drawn the eye of celebrities such as Jay Leno, who shot a short documentary on the event. 

The event’s founder, Tate Morgan, said he’s happy to lend out the license to anyone who wants to do a nonprofit event in the spirit of the Gambler 500 in their own community and suggests organizers reach out to local groups and business for support.

“The Gambler is kind of a competitive trail cleanup,” Morgan said. “There’s no time limit, and there’s not really a metric for winning. It’s really just about who can pick up the most trash.”

Peterson is still in the early stages of planning the Lincoln County Gambler, but he said there has been a lot of interest from the community so far. He’s organizing the event through a public Facebook group called the Gambler Lincoln County, where he’s been coordinating with interested residents, posting examples of suitable vehicles and even identifying big pieces of garbage he hopes to haul off. Around 50 people have joined the group so far.

“I’ve been driving back roads over the weekends trying to find good routes and see how many miles we can get in,” Peterson said. “I plan to talk with the forest service to get access to a few of the gated areas, and North Lincoln Sanitary reached out when they heard what I was planning, to see how they could help and put me in touch with more people.”

There is no cost to take part, but those involved will need to provide all their own supplies and equipment. The event is open to families, as opposed to the larger Gambler 500 events, which require participants to be 18 or older because of the scope and travel involved.

“It’s important to take this opportunity to show people just how much stuff ends up dumped out there,” Peterson said. “It’s a good cause, and I hope a lot of people come out and have fun with it.”

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A car participating in last year’s Gambler 500 has a mattress strapped to its roof as its drivers stop to examine an abandoned car. A car participating in last year’s Gambler 500 is strapped with illegally dumped mattresses and sits parked next to a pile of other dumped items. A pair of beat up appliances sits abandoned on a Lincoln County back road. Geoff Peterson hopes to collect and dispose of them during this event.


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