I was 17 years old the first time I traveled outside the country and visited England. The trip itself was a whirlwind of long bus rides and historically relevant sites that overtime have blurred into one another. Among the many stops was a lengthy visit to Stonehenge in Wiltshire. As one of the most famous prehistoric monuments in the world, there are more theories surrounding this circle of stones than I care to either think about or try to relate to you, so I’m not going to try.
I remember the tour as boring, the French guide (really England?) as being rude, and the structure itself as being far less spiritual than I was lead to believe. Even so, I wasted rolls of film snapping photo after photo as I walked circles around the black ropes, and nearly missed my tour group leaving for the next location on our itinerary. Like the pyramids in Egypt or the Parthenon in Greece, Stonehenge deserves a visit not for the questions that surround it, but for the simple fact that man was able to create something awe-inspiring and seemingly otherworldly. So awe-inspiring in fact, that Americans have taken it upon themselves to create more replicas of this famous destination than you probably even know exist. Being a lover of all things strange, and never one to snub a roadside attraction, the following replicas are sure to be a part of my next road trip.
Built to match the proportions of Stonehenge in England, Carhenge in Alliance Nebraska was built using recycled cars from neighboring properties by Jim Reinders during a positively unforgettable family reunion. Constructed on his own property, all 38 of the cars that make up this iconic replica are classic American automobiles from the 50’s & 60’s, and are continuously painted a flat gray to ensure their preservation with the passing of time and to help them closer resemble the color of the stone used at the original “henge”. Once seen as an eyesore by the locals, Alliance has very much embraced Carhenge as being a part of their hometown, and voted to purchase the property back in 2013. The inventive replica now boasts its own visitors center/gift shop and even hosts a few other art installations at the nearby Car Art Reserve.
Located on the Lessman Farm in Topeka Kansas, this strange roadside attraction in America’s heartland was not actually inspired by the famous Stonehenge we all know and love, or even created to look like it. Instead it was conceived as an ode to Carhenge in Alliance Nebraska, and Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo Texas, although it doesn’t appear to resemble either. After having a disagreement with local government officials, owner Ron Lessman created Truckhenge in an unorthodox answer to being asked to pick his trucks up. He did one better. He buried each one in concrete and spray painted politically themed questions and phrases on their sides. The county officials didn’t find it very funny at the time, but in 2006 the installation was officially deemed an art park and seems to be secure for the foreseeable future. Today the farm also includes a pond stocked with fish, neighboring Beer City made of concrete and beer bottles, and even the Truckhenge musical festival.
Created by fiberglass sculptor Mark Cline in Natural Bridge Virginia, Foamhenge is said to be the only exact replica of Stonehenge that exists in the United States. Each large, yet light and easily sculptable piece of Styrofoam was shaped to match an original piece still standing at Stonehenge in England, before being placed in the correct astronomical location and set with concrete and steel pipes. Since Styrofoam isn’t biodegradable, it’s not likely that this replica is going to be disappearing anytime soon. Even so, there are signs posted around the replica to remind visitors that the material is in fact foam, and that messing with it will come at a cost.
Although creator Al Shepperd and neighbor Doug Hill never made a Stonehenge I, they did create this near replica out of plaster and wire meshing in the middle of Shepperd’s field. The replica itself is hollow inside and just shy of the dimension of the original in England, but unlike Stonehenge, it comes equipped with its own Easter Island heads that were created after Shepperd visited the island on vacation. When the field was sold in 2010, the new owner wanted to nothing to do with Stonehenge II and almost knocked it down. Luckily the Visual Arts Center in nearby Ingram Texas purchased the art instillation and rebuilt Shepperd’s vision in town near a local baseball stadium.
Sam Hill’s Stonehenge
Built not as a replica of Stonehenge, but as a memorial to the soldiers who died in World War I, Sam Hill’s Stonehenge was built by the railroad magnate of the same name in the early 20th Century. Having been misinformed about the original Stonehenge in England being used for sacrifice, Sam Hill decided it was the perfect structure to commemorate the sacrifice of soldiers overseas, and set out to construct the memorial where the small town of Maryhill, Washington once sat (now overlooking the town with the same name).
Although the monument is said to be astronomically aligned, Sam Hill wasn’t interested in building a replica, and set about to improve upon the famous structure with his modern technology. Made out of slabs of uniform concrete that were mortared into megaliths, Sam Hill created a conceptualized version of what he thought Stonehenge was intended to be, and filled in every broken or missing piece. Although the link between a war memorial and Stonehenge might leave you scratching your head (as it did me), the gumption required to build such a memorial in the first place is a good enough reason to visit if you happen to be in the area.