Carhenge, NE: A Midwestern Memorial of Epic Proportions

Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska – Photo: Samir Luther / Flickr

Just over three decades ago, Jim Reinders stood in the middle of a windy, wide-open patch of Nebraska farmland, imagining what could fill its expanse. What he dreamed up has since evolved into one of the Midwest’s most quirky road trip treasures. Reinders, who spent time studying in England, had long been fascinated by the
mystery of Stonehenge. Not one to shrink from a challenge, Reinders set out to replicate the famed site—with an American twist.

Using a collection of old used cars, most from the 1950s and 1960s, Reinders planted the vehicles, trunk down, in the field. Carhenge was born. Some of the vehicular pillars rise as much as seventeen feet in the air, giving the same austere and imposing image as the original rock formation. All of the 38 cars were painted gray to further mimic Stonehenge’s appearance.

When asked why he created the elaborate structure, Reinders replied with, “Why not?” He likes to think of the site as a memorial to his late father, who once lived on the farmland where Carhenge stands today.

Construction took just over a week, with the help of Reinders’ family and friends. On opening day, he commented, “Our schedule called for finishing Carhenge today. We were able to reduce the time of the original Stonehenge construction by 1999 years and 51 weeks.” The opening ceremony included cake, a champagne toast, and even the performance of an original song to pay homage to Carhenge.

During construction, the local sheriff’s office received several complaints about “someone planting cars in a field.” After one city councilman fought to preserve Carhenge, the general public came on board to support Reinders and his “car art.” Since then, a local group called “Friends of Carhenge” has helped manage and raise funds for the site.

Carhenge is located in Alliance, Nebraska, on Highway 87. It is open year-round during daylight hours, and visitors can tour the grounds, visitor center, and gift shop at no charge.