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Oro Grande, California

Elmer Long's Bottle Tree Ranch

A forest of 200 bottle trees along Route 66 

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What does one do when left with thousands of colored glass bottles? Begin a massive recycling effort, or perhaps an obscure outdoor art gallery? Elmer Long decided on both after becoming the sole beneficiary of a massive bottle collection.

As a child, Long scoured the desert with his father, collecting everything and anything. While a younger Long took notes, his father amassed an incredible collection of glass bottles. When he passed away, Long inherited his work, as well as a loss at what to do with the strange collection. In 2000, an idea struck the famously bearded Elmer Long, and he created his first bottle tree.

Shaped like hat racks, with glass bottles of all colors and shapes angled off of them, the bottle tree ranch has now grown to 200 installations. Besides being a beautiful gallery, the hollow bottles also whirr a sweet tune when the wind passes through them. For travelers making their way across America, this collection and its curator are two treasures without equal.

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