If you have ever driven through the vastness that is West Texas, there are many miles of uninterrupted farm and ranch lands. Windmills dot the sides of roadways and the land seems to span onward into the vast unknown. Then suddenly for a moment you will pass through a small community with perhaps a stop light or two then back to the long drive ahead. It is not until you get to Amarillo that the monotony of the roads length subsides with monotony and traffic once again.
But along the way, if you really look carefully you will find there are a few iconic stops to keep the highway hypnosis at bay, one being the most iconic Texas Route 66 stop, the Cadillac Ranch.
Located just off of a small service road along I-40 just west of Amarillo, the Cadillac Ranch has been welcoming guests from around the world since 1974. What started out as an idea inspired by a collective of “hippies” called the Ant Farm came to life with the assistance of their silent partner, Amarillo billionaire Stanley Marsh III. The goal was simply to baffle locals with something so garish and obscure that people would have to stop and take the time to look.
Inspiration was drawn for this original idea from the tail fin of the Cadillac car. They wanted to create a design which mimicked that angle and what better way to do so than by using the classic cars themselves placed strategically at the angle of the fin. To do this Marsh allowed the group to utilize one of his fields which bordered the main stretch of highway and the project of burying the cars began.
Ten cars were selected and buried nose down in the dirt of the now plowed field in a western facing line with tail fins fully visible.
As predicted the cars quickly started the buzz of conversions brewing and spectators were stopping daily to get a glance at the infamous Cadillac Ranch. The cars, while iconic, were not without their skeptics but soon the community fully embraced the unique art piece and welcomed not only interested locals but the barrage of over the road guests who associated the stop with the infamous Route 66.
Vandals began taking their toll on the cars, looting pieces and tearing apart the exteriors of the cars. Before long spray paint starting to play a part in the vandalism, and while at first this was frowned upon, in some years it simply became a part of the evolution of the art itself and was accepted and even encouraged.
Now a visit to Cadillac Ranch is a visit to an iconic piece of Texas history. Any trip here might spark a conversation with a stranger who turns into a new connection you make. Each year hundreds of thousands make their mark on these cars from not only the US but from other countries as well. It is one of the most well known stops along the Mother Road and a write of passage to be able to leave your name, your logo or simply a colorful reflection of yourself on one of these classics.
Visit in the morning and by evening your paint will have been covered likely more than once during the day. It is a constantly changing piece that has far exceeded the original expectation of Marsh and the Ant Farm. Immortalized in memories for millions, movies, music videos and numerous publications the Cadillac Ranch is an iconic Texas stop.