As Eclipse Madness Sweeps U.S., A Stonehenge Made Of Cars Prepares : The Two-Way Carhenge in Alliance, Neb., will be prime viewing for this month's total solar eclipse. The town is preparing for thousands of visitors.

As Eclipse Madness Sweeps U.S., A Stonehenge Made Of Cars Prepares

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And we're going to turn now to Nebraska and a roadside attraction that mixes mysticism and Motown. It's Carhenge.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Rising like monoliths from ancient times stands a formation of vintage American automobiles which replicates Stonehenge.

GREENE: I have to visit this place. It has been trapping tourists since the 1980s. And now, NPR's Geoff Brumfiel reports that Carhenge is gearing up for a moment in the sun, or rather, 2 minutes and 30 seconds in the shade. Carhenge is right in the path of this month's total solar eclipse.


GEOFF BRUMFIEL, BYLINE: So I never thought I'd be waiting on hold with the Visitors Bureau of Alliance, Neb., but these are unusual times.


BRUMFIEL: Hello. Is that Kevin?

HOWARD: Yeah, this is Kevin. I'm sorry.

BRUMFIEL: Kevin Howard is in charge of eclipse planning, and his phone is ringing nonstop because later this month, the moon's shadow will fall on Carhenge.

HOWARD: Holy cow, man. Guess what? There's going to be an eclipse.

BRUMFIEL: He says the ancients who built Carhenge back in 1987 didn't know about this eclipse. It was a local named Jim Reinders who wanted to build a version of Stonehenge as a tribute to his dad. Now, the original Stonehenge in England was used to mark celestial events. It was built of giant rocks that prehistoric people dragged for miles from the quarries. But Jim was an engineer, a practical-minded guy.

HOWARD: So he decided, if we build it out of cars, the wheels on them would greatly simplify the logistics.

BRUMFIEL: During a family reunion, Reinders' relatives rolled up with a bunch of old jalopies and erected Carhenge. And people have been coming ever since.

HOWARD: Carhenge is one of the things that brought me to Alliance. I wanted to know - what's the magic? What's the thing that makes an upright junkyard into a tourist attraction?

BRUMFIEL: And how long have you been there now?

HOWARD: I've been there six years.

BRUMFIEL: Any insights?

HOWARD: I haven't figured it out at all.

BRUMFIEL: Howard says the town is expecting thousands to swarm Carhenge for the eclipse. They're planning concerts, a softball tournament. The local churches will put out all their best spreads.

HOWARD: And there's nothing better than a meal at the church. Those ladies put out the good stuff.

BRUMFIEL: You know what else Carhenge will have? Plenty of parking. Geoff Brumfiel, NPR News.


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