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Car Art and Roadside Attraction: Carhenge is America’s Stonehenge

This ranks up there with the quirkiest roadside attractions I’ve visited. It’s a weird and fascinating display of car art off the beaten path. Take a detour north off of I-80 to the tiny town of Alliance in northwest Nebraska. Why? To see a replica of Stonehenge in England, which I visited last November. The oddity of this “Stonehenge West” is not just its location off of Highway 87, but it’s made out of real automobiles and made to scale. It’s called Carhenge.

As I did the short walk from the small parking area to Carhenge I couldn’t help but wonder why build something like this. Creator Jim Reinders reasoning was simply why not. But there’s more to the backstory. He was a petroleum engineer in England for seven years. When he returned home to Alliance he was inspired to create the Stonehenge replica as a memorial to his father who once lived on the farm now home to Carhenge. But, Jim Reinders didn’t have any giant boulders or slabs of rock. Instead, since cars were readily available and similar in shape and size to the stones in Stonehenge, and they’re logistically easier to move since they have wheels, he created an enormous piece of car art. Erected over six days during a Reinders family reunion, it was dedicated on the summer solstice of June 21, 1987. During that dedication, Jim Reinders said, “We were able to reduce the time of the original Stonehenge construction by 9,999 years and 51 weeks.“

There are 39 automobiles painted gray and placed in a circle measuring approximately 96 feet in diameter, just as the real Stonehenge. It was cold and windy when I visited but I still walked the circle several times admiring this creation of engineering and art. Some cars are upright standing on their trunk ends. Some are welded together to form arches. My favorite is the vintage truck arch. Some cars are partially buried like a 1962 Cadillac halfway buried in the dirt off to the side to replicate Stonehenge’s Heel Stone.

I took the walking path to look at other pieces of car art like one named “Fourd Seasons.” It’s also by Reinders. Inspired by Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons,” Reinders used four Ford automobiles. It’s an artistic representation to wheat fields during Nebraska’s seasonal changes of planting, growing, maturing, and then being barren during windy winters.

There is a visitor center called “The Pit Stop,” but it wasn’t opened when I visited. Carhenge gets over 100,000 visitors a year. It’s an out-of-the-way destination, but if you’re into quirky pop-art and/or unique roadside attractions, add Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska to your list. It’s free to visit and only a little over an hour away from Scottsbluff National Monument. You can easily visit both in a half day.

For more of Jennifer’s adventures in Nebraska check out post on Sandhill Crane migration.

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