Carhenge In A Capsule

Just north of Alliance, Nebraska, along Highway 87, stands a replication of Stonehenge, England’s ancient mystical alignment of stones that chart the sun and moon phases.

Stonehenge stands alone on a plain in England.

Carhenge towers over the plains of Nebraska.

          Carhenge consists of the circle of cars, three standing trilithons within the circle, the heel stone, slaughter stone, and two station stones. Sir John Aubrey first recognized the earthworks and great stones as a prehistoric temple in 1648. It was not until excavations undertaken in the 1920’s that there 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 his 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.  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 of 1987 and went to work. The dedication was held on the Summer Solstice in 1987 with champagne, poetry, songs, and a play written by the family.

          Thirty nine 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 care 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.

          Additional car sculptures have been erected at the site known as the Car Art Reserve. One of the first sculptures to be added is the “Spawning Salmon” created by 29 year old Geoff Sandhurst from Canada. He won a $2500 prize and placement of his car art creation at the Reserve.

          Dino, the dinosaur was built by Merle Stone of Hemingford.

          Reinders’ “Fourd Seasons” comprised only of Fords and inspired by Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, suggests the Nebraska landscape’s seasonal changes as wheat is planted, grows, matures, and the field lies barren during a windy winter.

          The three bells, built by Reinders represent the three Reinders siblings.  The various sculptures and time capsules (Car-sules) have been contributed by local people over the years as the Car Art Reserve continues to grow.

          The visitor center “The Pit Stop” was built in 2007.

          Jim Reinders gave Carhenge and the 10 acres of ground to the Friends of Carhenge, a local group of dedicated people who preserved and maintained it until October of 2013 when it was gifted to the City of Alliance.

Carhenge’s uniqueness, novelty and unusual components continue to draw the attention of film and television production crews as well as over 100,000 visitors from all over the world.