Carhenge – Jim Reinders
2141 County Rd. 59
Population density is not a problem in Alliance, Nebraska. The Sand Hills see a lot of train traffic, and far less human movement. And Carhenge is perfectly suited to the great wide open. James Reinders carefully laid it out to echo the real ‘Henge, right down to the capstones that bring in the summer solstice. No color allowed. And no foreign cars either, thank you. And as we were reminded by our guide, “they eschew Druids” here too.
Carhenge, which replicates Stonehenge, consists of the circle of cars, 3 standing trilithons within the circle, the heel stone, slaughter stone, and 2 station stones, and the Aubrey circle, named after Sir John Aubrey who first recognized the earthworks and great stones as a prehistoric temple in 1648. It was not until excavations undertaken in the 1920’s that they were found to be holes cut to hold timber uprights. A total of 56 holes were discovered and named the Aubrey Holes in honor of John Aubrey’s observation.
The artist of this unique car sculpture, Jim Reinders, experimented with unusual and interesting artistic creations throughout his life. While living in England, he had the opportunity to study the design and purpose of Stonehenge. His desire to copy Stonehenge in physical size and placement came to fruition in the summer of 1987 with the help of many family members.
Thirty-eight automobiles were placed to assume the same proportions as Stonehenge with the circle measuring approximately 96 feet in diameter. Some autos are held upright in pits five feet deep, trunk end down, while those cars which are placed to form the arches have been welded in place. All are covered with gray spray paint. The honor of depicting the heel stone goes to a 1962 Caddy.
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. They held the dedication 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. All but 19 of the Aubrey holes have been developed, and those wishing to install a hole may do so upon application to Friends of Carhenge.
(portions of this post are excerpted from their website.)
Find this site and others with the iPhone app, “Best Road Trip Ever!”
“Rare Visions & Roadside Revelations” (the book), by Randy Mason, Michael Murphy and Don Mayberger, Kansas City Star Publishing, 2002.
“Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations Coast to Coast Travel-o-Pedia” by Randy Mason, et. al., Kansas City Star Books, 2009.
On DVD – Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations, “Neighborly Northerners”, KCPT, Kansas City Public Television, 1996-2001.
“Self-Made Worlds: Visionary Environments” by Roger Manley and Mark Sloan, Aperture, New York, 1997.