Monday, February 27, 2012

Texan Stonehenge

The Cadillac Ranch

Several myths have been perpetuated about the origin of the Cadillac Ranch, which is up along the Texas Panhandle. This is Larry McMurtry country. The most popular tale goes like this: An eccentric Amarillo, Texas millionaire loved Cadillacs (like most old school Texans). When the time came to buy a new ride, he would have the old one buried nose first on his land. But, like most Texas tall tales, there’s more to the story than just the book cover.

The truth of the matter is that the Cadillac Ranch idea is credited to an artistic project. After all, what's there to do out in the desert praries of West Texas but shoot varmints like coyotes and praries dogs, and watch paint dry? Thus, the Cadillac Ranch, was born.

The Texas millionaire part of the story is true, however.

The 10 used Cadillacs, ranging in model years from 1948 to 1963, were built along the historic Route 66. The cars were meant to represent the "Golden Age” of American automobiles. At first, the cars displayed their original paint jobs – turquoise, banana yellow, gold, and sky blue. But as people are wont to do when inspired by transcending art, they spray painted the cars, making them utterly unrecognizable from the original factory finish. Now, this is the kind of interactive art movement you don't see the Louvre's patrons mimic. I read that souvenir aficionados smashed the windows, made off with all the chrome, radios, speakers and even some of the doors. Ooo wee! How many art museums can boast that their exhibits also serve as the gift shop? The wheels have since been welded to the axles to prevent more theft.

The Cadillac Ranch is located west of Amarillo on old Route 66, south of I-40 between exits 60 and 62.

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