In the spring of 1987, Jim Reinders enlisted family and friends to help with an unusual project. He was arranging old cars in a pattern modeled after Stonehenge, the iconic prehistoric monument in England.
An experimental artist with a history of using curious media, Reinders had become enthralled by Stonehenge while he was living in England. When his father died in 1982, Reinders wanted to find a way to honor him, and came up with the idea to build “Carhenge.” Instead of using stone, he decided to embrace a more modern approach by using old cars.
Five years after the funeral, the family reconvened in Nebraska to bring Carhenge to life. Some 35 people were in attendance. All 38 of the major stones found at Stonehenge are represented, and the vehicles were arranged to accurately and proportionately depict the original structure. The automobiles, which include a handful of cars, a pickup truck, an ambulance, and a 1962 Cadillac as the heel stone, have all been painted gray.
Carhenge was completed just in time for the summer solstice, the family celebrated their achievements with drinking, poetry, and song.
Initially, many of the residents of Alliance were opposed to Carhenge, believing it to be an eyesore. But with the help of a city council member, concerns were addressed and the site has not only stuck around, but grown even larger. A part of the site known as the Car Art Reserve holds even more car sculptures. The collection includes more of Reinder’s work as well as pieces from other artists, including a large dinosaur and a spawning salmon. Over time the community has grown to accept and love the structure that put their town on the map.
Know Before You Go
Carhenge is located on Highway 87, three miles north of Alliance, Nebraska. It is open to the public year-round and entrance is free, though donations are encouraged. The Pit Stop Gift Shop is open during the summer.
Bring a permanent marker with you, as there is a car on top of the hill that you can autograph. For an extraordinarily spooky experience, go and view this sculpture at night with just flashlights. It's as if you're encountering an automotive zombie happening.