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Carhenge (Nebraska, USA)

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Wacky tourist attraction in Nebraska, USA.

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      13.02.2012 16:51
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      One family's tribute to a father now shared with anyone passing by

      This is exactly what it sounds like. It is a replica of Stonehenge made from old cars sprayed grey so they look like they are made of stone. The sight is really just off the road and there is a small car park. It is open every day and all hours as at the time entrance is free. It can be seen from the road but it is safer to go in and park even if you only want to take a few photos. There is a small shop with souvenirs but that is only open from Monday to Friday from 10 am till 5pm and sadly it wasn't open when we passed after our long and stressful journey.

      Apparently Carhenge has been given the honour of being USA's No2 Wackiest attraction by the toilet seat museum in San Antonio which has more than 800 decorated toilet seat lids but no bathroom.

      WHY?
      Well why not I guess. Thank heavens there are some creative and different people in the world as it would be a very dull place if we were all far too sensible and never did anything silly. This artwork is the creation of a sculptor Jim Reinders who created this as a tribute in memory of his father who once lived on the farm where Carhenge stands today. I thought this was a lovely idea as it is the sort of memorial that makes people smile and what better way can you remember someone you cared for than to make people smile when they see your memorial even if they didn't know you.

      The creator lived in England for a few years and made a close study of Stonehenge. He has created other large art installations but he had a desire to recreate Stonehenge and after his father died the family agreed to come and help him create his memorial to his father. It was five years after his father's death that the family came to build this in June 1987.

      WHAT IS IT EXACTLY?
      Well, it is essentially thirty eight old cars standing in various ways to recreate Stonehenge very accurately as you can see in the photos. It has been carefully constructed so as to keep the proportions of the original. The circle is ninety six feet in diameter. The cars are buried at different depths and stand upright or on end in concrete. The cars that make the arch way have been welded so that they are pretty firmly there to stay for some time. The heel stone is the place of honor and that is represented by a 1962 Cadillac.

      Amazingly they built this in a very short time as about thirty five family members all worked together and by the Summer solstice of the same year, 1987 they dedicated it in the memory of Jim's father. They had a sort if service and read poetry and sang songs written by the family then they drank champagne so the father should have felt well and truly remembered I would think.

      OUR EXPERIENCE
      WE didn't have a huge long time here as we were slightly worried that the hotel we had seen on the Tom - tom may not have vacancies and this would mean another few hours in the car. I think we had about half an hour wandering around the site and it is pretty big.

      Up close you can still see all the details of the cars but as they are painted in a grey stone colour you can't see inside the cars. You are not restricted in any way as to where you can walk. You can go under the arch and between the cars and even touch the cars with no trouble.

      There are now other sculptures on the site as it is no longer just owned by the family. The 'Friends of Carhenge' have taken it over as the family donated the site to this group who manage the site. I believe they are hoping to have a camp site and other facilities so that it becomes financially viable. As they do not charge an admission fee they need to think of ways to bring I funds to maintain the site. In my view an admission charge might solve the problem as apparently 80,000 people visit each year. I am not sure how they work this out as there is no ticket issued and no-one was there when we visited.

      It was quite an impressive sight and very accurate when seem from the road. It was so nice to actually be able to walk around and into the installation as so often things like this are fenced off.

      The other sculptures on the site include another of Jim Reinders' pieces but this is built solely from Ford cars. It is called "Ford Seasons" and is pretty obviously inspired by Vivaldi's 'Four Seasons' and is meant to represent Nebraska changing through the seasons. Nebraska is a big wheat growing state and so the cars show wheat being planted, growing, being harvested and finally the land empty and bare in the winter. The cars are green for the first shoots then a really tall yellow which is two cars on their ends, strangely the next is pink, can't quite see that myself and finally white for winter which is the snow of course. This is a much simpler installation but still pretty impressive but I don't get the pink car!

      Other sculptures or pieces are also based upon cars or parts of cars and one is a dinosaur or to me more a dinosaur skeleton which is a creation made from tyres and other bits of cars and does look pretty good again from a distance is better.

      Another is a car with sort of wagon wheels at the sides and a construction that looks like the top of a wagon without the fabric cover.

      The final creation is by a Canadian artist, Geoff Sandhurst and is a salmon spawning with is yet again created from a car or at least some of a car. This is really very colourful and has a lot of 'movement' in it considering that it is crafted from a car and not sculpted from a material that has potential for creating movement such as clay or stone which can be moulded or carved.

      WORTH A VISIT?
      If you are passing by then certainly do stop and take a look. If you are in the area then once again it is one of those quirky places that gets into 'weird and wonderful places to see' sort of books. It is very different and very clever. It is also a lovely tribute from a family to a loved one who had died.

      I have no idea why they don't charge admission except for the fact it is on the roadside so most people would be able to see from the road but if they made it $1 a person then that is $80,000 a year which would surely help maintain the site.

      Apparently this is one of many replica Stonehenges in the USA they seem to be sprouting all over the country in different forms but this is certainly unique as it is the only one created from cars. Now we shall have to go and see the others if we are near them!

      Thanks for reading. This review may be posted on other sites under my same user name.
      ©Catsholiday

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