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Carhenge: A Nebraskan tribute to Stonehenge

Down the Road: The wildly popular attraction is located north of Alliance, Neb.

Curt Arens, Editor, Nebraska Farmer

June 14, 2024

6 Slides

It has been visited by celebrities, dignitaries and thousands of curiosity seekers. It is in the middle of a field and a bit off the beaten path.

But this world-renowned, yet quirky monument is not set in the English countryside. Instead, it is on the High Plains in Nebraska’s Panhandle, just north of Alliance along Highway 87.

We’re not talking about the Neolithic stone circle known as Stonehenge. We are talking about Nebraska’s answer to Stonehenge — Carhenge.

Carhenge is a replication of Stonehenge, except it consists of a circle of cars, half buried into the Panhandle soils, and perfectly replicating the earthworks and stones of Stonehenge.

Jim Reinders, who grew up around Alliance, lived in England and studied Stonehenge up close. In the summer of 1987, he realized his dream of replicating the famous monument with cars.

Thanks to some help from family and friends, Reinders built Carhenge as a memorial to his father on the farm where his father once lived. When Reinders’ father died in 1982, the family agreed to meet back five years later to build this significant memorial.

Family affair

It took about 35 family members, working through June 1987, to finish the memorial in time for a dedication held on summer solstice that same year. In all, 39 vehicles were placed in the “car circle,” about 96 feet in diameter.

Related:Meet ‘Archie’ at Morrill Hall

Additional car sculptures have been added over the years as a Car Art Reserve. All the cars in the original sculpture are painted gray, and the heel stone of the sculpture is a 1962 Cadillac. A visitor center was added in 2007, and the entire Carhenge and surrounding 10 acres were gifted by Reinders to a group known as Friends of Carhenge. In 2013, the attraction was gifted to the city of Alliance.

Reinders died in 2021, but the memorial to his father that he left garners 100,000 visitors from around the world each year. It is in many ways one of the quirkiest attractions, not only in Nebraska, but also in the U.S.

And it is significant that Reinders built this monument to his father on the High Plains near his hometown.

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About the Author(s)

Curt Arens

Editor, Nebraska Farmer

Curt Arens began writing about Nebraska’s farm families when he was in high school. Before joining Farm Progress as a field editor in April 2010, he had worked as a freelance farm writer for 27 years, first for newspapers and then for farm magazines, including Nebraska Farmer.

His real full-time career, however, during that same period was farming his family’s fourth generation land in northeast Nebraska. He also operated his Christmas tree farm and grew black oil sunflowers for wild birdseed. Curt continues to raise corn, soybeans and alfalfa and runs a cow-calf herd.

Curt and his wife Donna have four children, Lauren, Taylor, Zachary and Benjamin. They are active in their church and St. Rose School in Crofton, where Donna teaches and their children attend classes.

Previously, the 1986 University of Nebraska animal science graduate wrote a weekly rural life column, developed a farm radio program and wrote books about farm direct marketing and farmers markets. He received media honors from the Nebraska Forest Service, Center for Rural Affairs and Northeast Nebraska Experimental Farm Association.

He wrote about the spiritual side of farming in his 2008 book, “Down to Earth: Celebrating a Blessed Life on the Land,” garnering a Catholic Press Association award.

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