Nebraska’s version of Stonehenge
Last week, my husband and I took a three-day trip to Mount Rushmore from southwest Missouri. On the way to and from, we ventured off the beaten path to see some less-visited sites. One of those was Carhenge.
Can you guess what it is? Yep, you’re right. It’s a Stonehenge made of cars.
And believe it or not, it’s been on the back-burner of our mental bucket list of places to see for several years now. So you can imagine our delight last Thursday when we learned (thanks to Google Maps) that we would be within a few miles of Carhenge when we passed through Alliance, Nebraska (pop. 8,500) later that afternoon.
I first heard of Carhenge right around the time I graduated from the University of Kansas in 1988. The project’s completion in 1987 made the news back then in the Midwest for a little while. Then gradually, the news died down, and it became another one of those odd-ball sights the Great Plains is known for.
…y’know, an odd-ball sight that attracts 90,000 people each year and appears on the home page of its official owner, the city of Alliance, Nebraska.
Let’s get to it. Here’s a quick video of me simply rotating the camera around the central site:
The cars were at one time left in their original paint colors. But I would imagine that over time, the paint began to wear and/or the metal finishes began to rust, so a “Stonehenge gray” color was eventually applied to all. Works for me.
Here’s a photo of the site before the cars were painted gray.
Some Facts About Carhenge:
- It was built by the Jim Reinders family in 1987 and dedicated that same year at the summer solstice.
- The sculpture consists of 39 automobiles.
- Carhenge is built to scale and resembles the current layout of Stonehenge, not its original design when it was believed to have been built around 2000 BC. This unique shot by photographer Dan Lindsay shows how Carhenge imitates Stonehenge.
- Some of the pits that hold the upright cars are five feet deep.
- The cars that form the arches are welded to form a complete structure.
- Reinders built Carhenge as a memorial to his father and while living in England studied Stonehenge to learn its size and proportions.
- During the solar eclipse of August 2017, the path of totality (the path that would experience a total eclipse) passed right over Carhenge. Four thousand people, including the governor, viewed the eclipse from the site.
- Carhenge won a Travelers’ Choice Award from Trip Advisor in 2020.
The information sign below tells about the main Carhenge circle and some outlying sculptures made of found objects, farm implements, and auto parts.
Sign here, please.
While you can walk right up to the main sculpture, don’t write anything on the cars. If you feel the need to leave your mark, do it on this white car placed here specifically for that purpose.
Here’s another example of some of the outlying pieces around Carhenge. This is called Carnestoga after the old Conestoga wagons that at one time were the High Plains vehicle of choice.
Don’t forget to visit the small information center/gift shop at the site to drop in a donation and buy a souvenir. They have t-shirts, postcards, key rings, cold drinks, and a few snacks et al to make your Carhenge visit complete.
The bucket list
I can now cross Carhenge off my bucket list. If Carhenge isn’t on your bucket list, add it pronto. And then get thee to Alliance, Nebraska to see this funky testament to creativity and cars.