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Travel Bargain destination in Texas

CADILLAC RANCH – AMARILLO
Roadside Americana

Buried Cadillacs at cadillac ranch Amarillo photoIn some places around the country, something called the Cadillac Ranch would be a restaurant or a maybe car dealership. In the Texas Panhandle, along Interstate 40, following the old Route 66 route across country it is a roadside icon of distinctly American kitsch. A row of old classic Cadillacs, with noses buried in a farm field and tail fins pointed ass to the sky and covered in spry painted graffiti. Where other Krylon tagging is frowned upon and criminalized, on these old icons of the American motoring past it is part of the point, for this not a used car graveyard, but an ever changing art project. The original factory sheen of this sheet metal is now a random chaos of casually scrawled names and impromptu designs in interior and exterior acrylic.

Buried noses of Cadillacs photoFirst installed back in 1974 by an art group called the Ant Farm and supported by local Texas millionaire Stanley Marsh, the 10 Cadillacs dating from 1949 to 1963 align at an angle matching the Great Pyramid of Giza. The project was moved in 1997 from a former location since encroached upon by the strip malls and housing developments slowly spreading out the I40 corridor from Amarillo. The Cadillacs of the ranch are on private land, with no admission charge, just entered through a metal gate to keep the cows from escaping. The cars are covered with layers of spray paint. You can bring your own, purchased at the nearby Home Depot up the road, or very likely may find a can someone has kindly left behind in the spirit of socialism. Probably the best time to visit is the late afternoon close to sunset when the shadows of the cars stretch out across the dirt and field in eerie aligned angles.

Spray painted Colors of Cadillac ranch photoThe Cadillac Ranch may be familiar to kids and parents from the Pixar and Disney animated film “Cars”. A lot of the movie is inspired by the fading old towns along the historic Route 66 which is essentially now followed by I40, where the fictional town of Radiator Springs lies at the edge of the "Cadillac Range" of mountains, where rock formations shaped like the titled cars are seen on the horizon backdrop. Though you’re more likely to spot a forming tornado here in the panhandle plains than a mountain, and one of the old classic sections of Route 66 where it survives as a “business route” through Amarillo is just a bit up the highway.

Visiting the Cadillac Ranch

The Cadillac Ranch cars are visible from the interstate just as you near the civilization of the suburban sprawl of Amarillo. Entrance is from the south frontage road parallel to the highway. Parking is along the roadside. But though the painting of the cars is encouraged, should you be tempted to color outside the lines, graffiti painting of anything outside the fence is illegal, as if that should stop anyone.
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