Jul 3, 2017

Western Nebraska - Carhenge and High Plains Homestead

Heading south on Route 89 toward Alliance in Western Nebraska, what before my wondering eyes should appear? Carhenge rising out of the wheat fields! Carhenge is an assemblage of cars to look like Stonehenge built to scale and painted gray.  Can’t make it to Stonehenge in England for the solar eclipse then consider Carhenge. On August 21 at 11:49 (MT) Carhenge will be in the direct path of the total solar Eclipse. 

I always wonder how people come up with such unique ideas. The attraction is free so it wasn’t for money; actually, it must have been an expensive undertaking. It seems Jim Reinders had once lived in England and studied Stonehenge.  In what must have been an unique family get-together upon the death of Reinders’ father in 1982, relatives decided to build a memorial to him. Five years later 35 friends and relative gather to build the memorial which they dedicated at the June 1987 summer solstice

with champagne, poetry songs and a play written by the family. Thirty-eight vintage cars were place in a 96-foot circle, some upright in pits five feet deep and others welded together to form the circle, the sprayed it gray, the color of Stonehenge. The idea may not have been original as there used to be Autohenge in Oshawa,
Canada. It was an advertising gimmick and has been removed but there are also other “henge” replicas but none as famous as Carhenge. The three foreign cars that were part of the original were replaced with models from Detroit. On a hill above Carhenge is the Ford Seasons, four Ford cars painted to suggest the Nebraska landscape’s seasonal changes as the wheat goes from green in the spring to white in winter. At first local citizens wanted that “junkyard” removed now they proudly advertise “Alliance: Home of Carhenge.” 

Anyone considering visiting Carhenge, especially for the total eclipse should consider staying at High Plains Homestead, another local creation.  Mike Kesselring and his family have rescued homestead-era buildings creating a typical homestead village with a general store, tavern, accommodations, blacksmith shop, a jail, a one-room
homestead house, and more are in the works.  Visitors can tie up their horse for the night and/or just stop by for one of their “cowboy” cooked meals. Mike cooked us an awesome meal. You have to look for it but there is also a swimming pool surrounded by a high wooded fence so it doesn’t intrude on the ambiance of the place. There is even internet. Some
of the quaint but rustic rooms are aptly named (and decorated) “Cowboy” and “Saloon Girl.” They were all occupied so we stayed in the cabin with two bedrooms, kitchen, washer and dryer, and more.  I would have liked to stay longer. John and I enjoyed the evening sunset, saying goodnight to the horses and buffalos, and gazing at a zillion stars.  In the morning we went to Toadstool Park, named for the unique
rock formations, where a group of ranchers prepare a “cowboy” cookout breakfast. They cooked while we walked out to look at the unique rock formations. The local ranchers have formed nebraskahighcountry.com to promote the area, their accommodations, and provide a variety of experiences such as a trail ride, fossil hunting, and hiking.  

People driving through NW Nebraska often say “there’s nothing there.” Looks are deceiving.  There is a lot to see and do but it is necessary to get off the highway.