August 4

The Story behind Texas Rowdy Roadside Art, Cadillac Ranch

A road trip legend lies in Amarillo; Cadillac Ranch, one of the most iconic Roadside attractions in Texas. Cadillac Ranch is a holy ground for route 66 lore lovers. Tourists from all over the world gather to deface the buried cars nose first in the dirt.  They carry with them cans of spray paint to leave their mark on the beloved roadside landmark.

The Story behind Texas Rowdy Roadside Art, Cadillac Ranch 1
Credits: Instagram/mardi_obrien

An art group called Ant Farm from San Francisco created the art. The creators are namely Chip Lord, Hudson Marquez and Doug Michaels. But they don’t have the funds that’s why they were helped by Stanley Marsh 3. Marsh 3 was a millionaire who reveled rattling the Amarillo population. Other than the Cadillac Ranch, Marsh 3 funded a number of public art projects like series of fake traffic sign with phrases “Road does not end” and “Lubbock is a Grease Spot.” The Cadillac Ranch was meant to show the evolution of the Cadillac. The Cadillacs were buried nose first to show the “tailfin,” which defines the cars for a time.

On certain occasions, the devotees of the Cadillac Ranch paint the cars. Different colors corresponds with different special events. They paint the cars all pink to honor the birthday of Marsh 3’s wife. When they paint it all black, they’re honoring the passing of Ant Farm member Doug Michaels. They also hold a recognition for Gay Pride Day by painting the cars all pink. No matter what the color of the cars are, the artistic endeavor doesn’t last long. You’ll find four decades worth of paint for every surface inch of the cars from eager travelers. The Cadillac Ranch is a rite of passage to anyone travelling the Mother Road to visit Cadillac Ranch and leave a bit of themselves behind.

Cadillac Ranch was able to become an inspiration to other vehicular roadside attractions. There’s the International Car Forest of the Last Church in Nevada. There is also the “Carhenge” of Alliance in Nebraska and the “Truckhenge” of Topeka in Kansas.


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