In the middle of nowhere, in western Nebraska is Carhenge, which is like Stonehenge, but made out of cars. It sounds like a funny idea, and it is. However, when you walk in, you realize it's not a place for joviality. It is very quiet, with people talking in whispers, like a graveyard. The loudest sounds are the winds moaning in the distance, and the crisp crunching of crushed stone underfoot. The solemn tone is set by the automobiles themselves, all painted gray like ghosts, or perhaps tombstones.
When we arrived there, it was near sunset, and I imagined that it was a monument to late twentieth century setting on Western civilization. Stonehenge was built 3,000 years ago. I wondered, in three thousand years, if future archeologists would find remnants of American culture. What would they be? The dried, shriveled bones of the highways that snaked across the land? Canisters of gasoline buried, scattered about the land, still leaching their poisons into the soil and ground water...
And those archeologists will wonder, why did they build such monuments to celebrate the automobile? Why did they choke their air and scar the landscape, not knowing the destruction they brought upon themselves. In those days they wondered why there were so many terrible floods, not making the connection that they had paved so much of the land that the rain had no place to go.
Three thousand years have past and no one knows, no one remembers who built Stonehenge (it wasn't the Druids). Three thousand years from now, will anyone know why we broke the back of Western civilization in celebration of the automobile?
Visited July, 1996. No fee.
Built in 1987 by engineering consultant James Reinders during a family reunion.
Accessible and visible from U.S. 385, two miles north of Alliance, Nebraska. A few hours straight south of Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Monument, Jewel Cave and Wind Cave in South Dakota.
An hour and a half (or so) north of Sidney, Nebraska, but I suggest you avoid that little rip-off town. They say the people don't treat you mean in Abilene, well, that's because all the mean people have moved to Sidney.
From: kouba 2/24/00
Dear Mr. Wu,
I do not live in Sidney, Nebraska, but I take great offense for anyone to post on the internet about rude people live there. You may have just encountered I person who gave you that impression. I do not think it is fair at all to tell the world that the entire town is rude. This message tells me that you didn't give anyone a chance. This world needs to realize that good people are everywhere. Some have bad days, and happen to meet new people on those bad days giving that impression.
My reply to kouba 2/24/00
Hi, thanks for your email. I understand your desire to stand up for
people who you think are unjustly criticized on the Internet. This is
noble. However, I stand by what I wrote about the people of Sidney. I am a
nice person, perhaps too nice, and it takes a lot of abuse for me to get up the
nerve to call someone names. But, when I was in Sidney, Nebraska, I met
perhaps a dozen people, all in the service professions - waiters, hotel clerks,
cashiers at quickie marts - and none of them had any discernable interest in
serving me in a professional manner. Each person was flippant, grumpy,
careless or unfriendly - or all of the above. I was obviously an
out-of-towner, and they charged me prices higher than those actually posted on
signs. And, worse, as I stood there at a check-out counter of that quickie
mart, I could see the wheels turning in the clerk's head as he tried to
calculate how much he could rip me off and get away with it. In many cases,
items in stores didn't have prices on them, as a way to maintain the two-tier
pricing scheme. I can just imagine that other townspeople know this sort
of thing is going on, and I can guess that the clerk's boss even encourages this
sort of gouging - so they are all guilty of collusion. This sort of
behavior is, of course, illegal in addition to be immoral. So, no, I don't
apologize for what I said about the people of Sidney being rude. I should
have added that they are selfish, petty and small-minded. I've reached a
point of my life where I'm better off calling a spade a spade and speaking up
when people are harshing on me. So, the people of Sidney have collectively
lost my business, and if they want me to come back to town, they better
apologize and then put up price signs and stick to them, and give me a free
dinner to make up for the rudeness heaped on this out-of-town guest.
Consider what I wrote a travel advisory.
From M. S. 10/31/00
I was doing a search on the internet for links dealing with my hometown of Sidney, Nebraska! I just about fell off my chair (laughing of course) when I read what you wrote about Sid-rock (as us locals lovingly refer to it). Two days after graduating from Sidney High School I got the hell out of that town. You are absolutely correct that people are not friendly and certainly not welcoming to 'outsiders'. If anyone gives you hell to not criticize Sid-rock, you just send em' my way because I can vouch for what an evil little town it is...
From Bethany Gronberg 10/31/00
I wanted to express my embarrassment
that you were treated so rudely when you visited Sidney, NE. I am from
Omaha, and as a native Nebraskan, I am sorry that you got such shabby
treatment. I know it's not my fault, but I'm sorry anyway. I have never
personally been to Sidney, but in my experience Nebraskans are generally
quite nice, and I've been told that many non-Nebraskans actually do share
that opinion. Maybe Sidney is the exception. Just so you know, at least one
Nebraskan out here (I actually live in Ottawa, Canada, for the present) is
appalled along with you. I hope your next visit to Nebraska is a better
experience--if you ever go back, that is. :-)
From Ditty Hagardorn 1/28/01
I think Carhenge beats Cadillac Ranch by a mile. Great pages, and wonderful art. Speaking of art, we have a couple of sites that specialize in all things artsy:
The Museum of Depressionist Art
The Gallery of the Unidentifiable http://www.dearauntnettie.com/gallery-of-the-unidentifiable.htm
Both of these are sprouts from the fertile mind of Aunt Nettie:
Dear Aunt Nettie http://www.dearauntnettie.com
I would love to exchange links with you. I'll resize your link button to fit the links page, if that's ok with you.
From Leisha Lindsey 7/22/02:
I just wanted to respond to your email about Sidney Nebraska being rude. I was born and raised in Sidney. I am often told I am one of nicest people that you have ever met. So I take offense. I have often had rude service at the same locations that you mentioned. I still don't believe that you can judge everyone by a few bad apples fallen from the tree. I know for a fact that I am one of the nice ones, you just didn't get the chance to meet me! As a matter of fact, I was always the one in school who would first talk to the new kid just so they would have a friend.
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