The wind continued to blow all night, but after checking the weather channel we discovered there was no end in sight for the next few days. So we decided to run over to Carhenge, located just a mile or two from our Rv park, and then to get on the road when we returned. We did just that and pulled out of Alliance around 11am, but more on that later.
Carhenge is a replica of England's Stonehenge, but instead of being built with large standing stones, as is the case with the original Stonehenge, Carhenge is formed from vintage American automobiles, all covered with gray spray paint. Carhenge replicates Stonehenge's current "tumble-down" state, rather than the original stone circle erected between 2500 BC and 2000 BC. Carhenge consists of 38 automobiles arranged in a circle measuring about 95 feet in diameter. Some are held upright in pits five feet deep, trunk end down, and arches have been formed by welding automobiles atop the supporting models. The heelstone is a 1962 Cadillac. Three cars were buried. In addition to the Stonehenge replica, the Carhenge site includes several other sculptures created from autos covered with various colors of spray paint.
Built by Jim Reinders, Carhenge was built as a memorial to Reinders' father who once lived on the farm where Carhenge now stands. While relatives were gathered following the death of Reinders' father in 1982, the discussion turned to a memorial and the idea of a Stonehenge replica was developed. The family agreed to gather in five years and build it. The clan, about 35 strong, gathered in June 1987 and went to work. While living in England, Jim studied the structure of Stonehenge, which helped him to copy the structure's shape, proportions, and size. The dedication was held on the Summer Solstice in 1987, with champagne, poetry, songs and a play written by the family.
Carhenge has been preserved by Friends of Carhenge, a local group, who now owns and maintains it. Reinders donated the 10 acres of land where Carhenge is located. They have added a paved parking lot, picnic tables, and an educational display board. Additional sculptures have been erected at the site, known as the Car Art Reserve. One of the first sculptures to be added to the Car Art Reserve is a sculpture of a spawning salmon created by 29 year-old Canadian Geoff Sandhurst. Sandhurst won a $2500 prize and placement of his car art creation at the Reserve. Reinders' "Ford Seasons", comprised only of Fords and inspired by Vivaldi's Four Seasons, suggests the Nebraska landscape's seasonal changes as wheat is planted, grows, is harvested, and then the field lies barren during a windy winter.
Carhenge's uniqueness, novelty and unusual components continue to draw the attention of film and television production crews as well as over 80,000 tourists from all over the world. It was the subject of the 2005 documentary Carhenge: Genius or Junk? and featured in the 2007 travel book 1,000 Places to See in the USA and Canada Before You Die. It was also the location of the final scene of Dan Mirvish's 1994 film Omaha. I don't know that its worthy of being a trip destination in itself, but if you're in the Nebraska Panhandle, it's a fun stop.