No, you’re not seeing things—there really are nearly a dozen Cadillacs upended in the Texas plain west of Amarillo, roughly midway between Chicago and Los Angeles. Two hundred yards south of I-40 between the Hope Road and Arnot Road exits (numbers 62 and 60, respectively), some 10 miles west of Amarillo where old US-66 rejoins the Interstate, the rusting hulks of 10 classic Caddies are buried nose-down in the dirt, their upended tail fins tracing design changes from 1949 to 1964.
A popular shrine to America’s love of the open road, Cadillac Ranch was created by the San Francisco-based Ant Farm artists’ and architects’ collective in May 1974, under the patronage of the eccentric Amarillo helium millionaire Stanley Marsh III. The cars were all bought, some running, some not, from local junkyards and used car lots at an average cost of $200 each. Before the Cadillacs were planted in the ground, all the hubcaps and wheels were welded on, a good idea since most of the time the cars are in a badly vandalized state. Tagging the cars with spray-paint graffiti has become a popular activity, but every once in a while advertising agencies and rock bands tidy them up for use as backdrops during photo shoots. In the late 1990s, Cadillac Ranch got another 15 minutes of fame when Marsh decided to dig them up and move them two miles west from where they’d been—to escape the ever-expanding Amarillo sprawl and preserve the natural horizon. Marsh’s death in 2014 has made the site’s future less secure, so see it while you can.
There’s a well-worn path from the frontage road if you want a closer look. Visitors are allowed any time, day or night.