Amarillo, TX has an extensive history, but officially came about in 1887 when it was named a county seat and a railway service was established in the area. As the first Texas city to adopt a city commission/city manager form of government, the town was originally known as Ragtown. It wasn’t until 1892 that the city was officially incorporated and given the name Amarillo. The amount of land that had the potential to be farmed is what first attracted the floods of people migrating to the area. An even bigger boom of expansion happened after natural gas was discovered in the region in 1918, then oil in 1923.
With a lengthy background, Amarillo is a place with a rich history. Something that adds even more to that possibly adds to that history is the area’s familiarity with strange and unusual art displays. Throughout the city you can find statues of American Quarter Horses in front of businesses or on street corners. Each is painted with a unique design, most representing the businesses they stand in front of. This was a city beautifying and local art encouraging project called Hoof Prints. Another well-seen installation across the town are street signs featuring symbols, pictures, or sayings unique to each sign. This is an art installation known as Dynamite Museum which was implemented by Stanley Marsh III.
Stanley Marsh III was a millionaire local to the Amarillo area. Some have labeled him as a philanthropist, but during his living years, he garnered quite the negative reputation when he came under scrutiny for allegations regarding sexual assault of male children. Regardless of these accusations as well as the settlements that followed lawsuits brought against him, after his passing he was celebrated by many media outlets labeling him as “eccentric” and a “prankster.”
Stanley was most famous for his work known as Cadillac Ranch, an installation featuring 10 Cadillac cars sticking up out of the ground. This art was put in place in 1974 with the help of an art group who called themselves “Ant Farm.” This group of abstract artists was from San Francisco and intended for the work to showcase the evolution of cars by exhibiting the tail fins of Cadillac cars. It is located between Amarillo and Bushland outside of west Amarillo at 13651 I-40 Frontage Road.
After being installed, the cars were regularly defaced by travelers passing through. If you visit today, you can view decades worth of built up spray paint coating each car. The artists never spoke on whether the destruction of their art was a problem and seemed to remain partial. An interesting aspect the artists of this installation decided to incorporate was that each car be buried at the same angle as the Pyramid of Giza. It was laid out along Route 66 so people traveling on the popular highway would be graced with seeing the art.
If you find yourself traveling by Route 66, make sure to stop by and check it out. Usually, there are food trucks out on the property during the day so if you’re hungry while visiting, you can grab a bite to eat.
Click here for a different article.
Map from Cadillac Ranch to Lighthouse Funeral Home
Map from Cadillac Ranch to Wonderland Amusement Park