Amarillo, TX: Part 1: Cadillac Ranch

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Amarillo, TX pleasantly surprised me.  My short time there was quite enjoyable.  It is a city in the Texas Panhandle and is the perfect place to get a big taste of Texas even if you only have a small amount of time. From old Cadillacs and RV’s, to gigantic steaks and war memorials, the city is an Old West enthusiast’s dream. 

The Cadillac Ranch is a must-see landmark on Route 66 in Amarillo, Texas: Ten Cadillacs buried nose-down in the ground in a 1974 work of art. Cadillac Ranch was invented and built by a group of art-hippies imported from San Francisco. They called themselves The Ant Farm, and their silent partner was Amarillo billionaire Stanley Marsh, III. He wanted a piece of public art that would baffle the locals, and the hippies came up with a tribute to the evolution of the Cadillac tail fin. Ten Caddies were driven into one of Stanley Marsh, III’s fields, then half-buried, nose-down, in the dirt (supposedly at the same angle as the Great Pyramid of Giza). They faced west in a line, from the 1949 Club Sedan to the 1963 Sedan de Ville, their tail fins held high for all to see on the empty Texas panhandle.

After their 1974 installation, people would stop along the highway, walk out to view the cars — then deface them or rip off pieces as souvenirs. Stanley Marsh, III and The Ant Farm were tolerant of this public deconstruction of their art — although it doomed the tail fins — and eventually came to encourage it.

Decades have passed, and the Cadillacs have now been in the ground as art longer than they were on the road as cars.

They have been stripped to their battered frames, and splattered in day-glo paint splooge. Cadillac Ranch has become a ritual site for those who travel Route 66. The smell of spray paint hits you from a hundred yards away; the sound of voices chattering in French, German, and UK English makes this one of the most international language centers between the UN and Las Vegas.

If you bring spray paint, make sure to snap some photos because whatever you create at Cadillac Ranch will probably only last a few hours before it’s created over by someone else. I sure did !!!

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