Nebraska "Carhenge," car replica of Stonehenge, up for sale

ALLIANCE, Neb Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:01am EDT

1 of 2. 'Carhenge,' a full-scale automotive replica of England's Stonehenge made of 38 vintage automobiles, is pictured in Alliance, Nebraska, October 27, 2011. The Friends of Carhenge on Thursday put the site up for sale at an asking price of $300,000.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

ALLIANCE, Neb (Reuters) - For sale: 38 vintage automobiles. Price: $300,000.

Mystical and entertainment value: Priceless.

Carhenge, America's answer to England's Stonehenge, is for sale.

The Friends of Carhenge put the full-scale automotive replica of the prehistoric circle of stones on the sale block because the organization lacked capital and volunteers to maintain the quirky tourist attraction, said Marcia Buck, the group's president.

"This wasn't easy...," she said. "We've spent many a sleepless night wondering if it's the best thing to do."

Buck said it's time for an entrepreneur to take the steering wheel and drive Carhenge into the future. Carhenge will mark its 25th anniversary next year.

The Carhenge autos mimic the Stonehenge stones in size, dimension and northeast orientation to the sunrise. The attraction consists of 38 gray-painted autos in a 96-foot circle. Some are buried five feet deep, trunk end down. Some jut from the ground at odd angles. Nine vehicles welded atop some of the half-buried autos form the arches.

Vehicles include a 1943 Plymouth Savoy, 1945 Jeep Willys, 1956 Buick Roadmaster Deluxe, 1957 Cadillac Eldorado, 1965 Ford Thunderbird, 1971 Chevrolet Nova, and a 1976 American Motors Gremlin.

A 1962 Cadillac depicts the Stonehenge heel stone, which is outside the main entrance and leans inward toward the circle.

Carhenge was built by Jim Reinders in 1987 as a tribute to his late father, who farmed the site two miles north of Alliance, a city of 8,600 people on the western Nebraska plains.

Reinders worked in England for a time and visited Stonehenge. More than 80,000 tourists from around the world have visited the site annually. It is a stop for tour buses and some visitors come before dawn to experience the sunrise. Admission to the 10-acre grounds is free.

"It's a sleeper attraction,'' said Dixie Nelson, executive director of the Alliance Chamber of Commerce. "It gets a steady trickle of visitors."

Four recent visitors driving from Joplin, Missouri, to Denver, Colorado, detoured a few hundred miles out of their way to see Carhenge.

Nelson said motorcyclists riding to the annual summer rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, jokingly consider Carhenge a curse because it lures them into Nebraska, which requires bikers to wear helmets.

Carhenge could be as successful as Reptile Gardens and Bear Country, both privately operated attractions in the nearby Black Hills of South Dakota, Nelson said.

Film and television production crews have used Carhenge as a backdrop.

"Carhenge has taken on a life of its own,'' Nelson said.

He and Buck said the site has space and potential for a restaurant, go-kart track, recreational vehicle campground and other developments.

The listing agent is James Land Co. in Saratoga, Wyoming. The Friends group plans to use sale profits to establish art scholarships and promote local tourism.

(Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Jerry Norton)

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