CADILLAC RANCH

By Jug Varner

A few miles west of Amarillo, along Interstate 40, stands a decidedly different art form from any you are likely to see. There is no billboard in either direction to proclaim the wonders of this odd tourist attraction (?), so you might miss seeing it if you drive by too fast. I don't know why the town folks don't advertise it. Maybe they're not that proud of it.

It is out in a typical Texas wheat field, some 200 feet beyond the south access road. A small sign gives a few brief details and a gap in the fence allows the curious to walk out and take a closer look without an admission fee.

This collection of metal is a lineup of ten old Cadillacs, hoods buried in the sandy loam and tail fins reflecting a blazing sun — Machine Age monoliths silently reaching up to the god of transportation. Locals call it “Cadillac Ranch.”

Amarillo eccentric Stanley Marsh III and a San Francisco designer group (known as The Ant Farm) created it in 1974. Twenty years later they held a reunion party and encouraged invited guests to spray-paint congratulatory messages on the freshly whitewashed Caddies.

Common graffiti added by others since then has given this “monument to something-or-other” more the effect of junk than art — but perhaps not to its creators. They once described it as “the hood ornament of Route 66.” That famed highway of song became known as I-40 when the interstate system was built.

Art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.