Sentiment grows to tear down Cadillac Ranch

Residents of Amarillo, Texas, are debating whether to dismantle Stanley Marsh 3’s Cadillac Ranch art installation near Route 66 in the wake of sex-abuse allegations against him, reported Texas Monthly magazine.

Since October, Marsh, 74, has been embroiled with civil lawsuits, then criminal indictments, over allegations that he sexually abused teenage boys. Naturally, this hasn’t sat well with the locals.

The magazine reported:

As details of Marsh’s alleged abuse emerge, citizens in Amarillo are debating his legacy and whether the quirky Texas landmark should be dismantled.

“Seize the property at Cadillac Ranch under forfeiture laws!!!” one resident recently posted on the website of the Amarillo Globe News. “A stupid bunch of junk cars,” snapped another.

And lawyer Anthony G. Buzbee, who brought the recent lawsuits against Marsh, chimed in:

For Buzbee doing the right thing means ensuring that Cadillac Ranch comes down. “When people find out what this man is really like, they’ll want to come out and help me bulldoze the place,” he says. “We do not need a monument that honors an alleged child predator.”

Buzbee also compared Marsh’s case to the Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach who will spend the rest of his life in prison after being found guilty of child molestation.

First, Buzbee should remember that Marsh hasn’t been convicted of anything. In previous years, Marsh was sued or charged with indecent acts with children. However, the lawsuit was settled with no admission of wrongdoing, or the charges were dropped. As a Texan would likely put it, Buzbee is putting the cart before the horse.

If a jury convicts Marsh, the comparison of him to Sandusky is interesting — especially when one remembers the statue of Sandusky’s former boss, legendary Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno, being removed from campus after details of the allegations and Paterno’s lack of action emerged. The logic would go: Paterno’s statue can be taken away; why not Cadillac Ranch?

The difference is the Paterno statue honored Paterno. Cadillac Ranch doesn’t honor Marsh. According to its official website, Cadillac Ranch serves to remind “both Americans and foreigners of this great American automotive heritage,” not laud an eccentric Texas millionaire.

In fact, Marsh is not even the art installation’s creator. Chip Lord, Hudson Marquez, and Doug Michels of the Ant Farm art group were the ones who came up with the concept in 1974. Marsh serves as nothing more than the landlord.

As for Marsh’s legacy, about the only ones who care are locals. I’ll bet not one in ten of the visitors who come to Cadillac Ranch know who Marsh is. Add in the tourism dollars those thousands of visitors bring, it probably would be unwise for Amarilloans to dismantle the art installation.

Probably the best solution would be for Marsh to divest his holdings of the land where Cadillac Ranch sits, and let a local nonprofit or trust take it over. The fame of Cadillac Ranch transcends any one person, and should remain standing.

(Image of Cadillac Ranch by OneEighteen, via Flickr)

15 thoughts on “Sentiment grows to tear down Cadillac Ranch

  1. For some reason we have become so oversensitive it is pitiful
    Wht is to be gained by tearing this down. I did not know thename of the person that put the cars there and most like neither does 95 % of the people that stop and look at them or have pictires taken
    Leave the ranch alone

  2. I agree completely with you! A friend from England recently came over for a Route 66 tour. She had NO IDEA about Marsh, who he is or what he has or has not done. However, she LOVED Cadillac Ranch and says it was one of the highlights of her trip, and that several others on her tour felt the same way. This is a piece of art every bit as much as anything found in a museum.

  3. This is crazy. I agree with Ron, if it were a statue of Stanley Marsh, it might be different. But to tear down an iconic piece of public art just because the artist is – at this point – accused of crimes is to harm tourism in a community for no reason at all. While I believe more people DO know who Marsh is than most might think, I don’t think anything he has or hasn’t done will stop tourists from wanting to see Cadillac Ranch. Croc, I do hope you can get people there to reassess the situation. This is one thing the Road does not need to lose.

  4. The best idea suggested for the Paterno statue was to simply rotate it 180 degrees so that it would have its back turned in ignorance to what was taking place with the Sandusky matter.

  5. Tonya,
    you could be correct,I know I had heard of cadillac Ranch for ages and never knew who owned it. I read about Marsh and his dealings with the law and still did not know he owned the Ranch until I read an article that put the two together.
    I will say that has been 8 months or so ago and if you had ask me yesterday who owned the Cadillic Ranch ,I could not tell you as the name has been forgotten in a few short months.
    I do not know if his child molestation charges would have came to mind either they may have but still not his name
    I can associate them today from reading the article on here
    People may know the Ranch but still not associate it with the name after several months,because we are not in the are ait is in or people are just passing thru

  6. Certainly, living with the reality of who Mr. Marsh is in one’s community might be a challenge- especially with the allegations currently pending against him.
    However, we are here talking about a very significant part of Route 66 lore and legend- one that brings hundreds of people off of I-40 to Amarillo daily to visit Cadillac Ranch. I don’t know of too many places along the road that wouldn’t want a draw like that in their community.
    Getting rid of Cadillac Ranch because their mad (justifiably) with Mr. Marsh seems rather short-sited.

  7. We don’t even know if Marsh is guilty yet and people are already talking about this? The man COULD be innocent, but even if he’s not what’s the point in tearing down a tourist attraction that has next to nothing to do with him?

  8. Alex,I agree with you,Sometimes the leaders do not think like us common folks.
    Somewhere they have lost their common sense and just take off on a tangent
    I am constantly amazed at how so few can keep pushing and finally get their way
    If people in the area don’t push back you will see it torn down
    Anytime a movement starts they usually do not stop and the ones not pushing keep thinking they will go away or it will never pass
    Look at he changes just in the last 10 years.and now some places the few have decide that you can’t buy the size soft drink you want

  9. This may be bad on my part but I didnt even know his name until now and dont want even know it now …BUT THE CARS MUST STAY

  10. Exactly Melba ,
    I think there are alot of people the same way. To tear such a huge tourist attraction down as this is foolish
    I have no idea how much money it generates for the sourrounding area but it has to produce some
    I know if we drive out there we are going to stop and eat in the area and most likely fill up with gas ,maybe even spend a night

  11. Prosecutor Buzbee is wrong that Cadillac Ranch honors a sexual predator and should be dismantled. Although Marsh funded it, Cadillac Ranch honors the automotive legacy and celebration of heritage tourism the USA is famous for. This was made most famous by Route 66 which happens to run through the farmland panhandle of Texas and the fantastic city of Amarillo. As the former President of the California Historic Route 66 Association, I can tell you the average traveler on Route 66 knows nothing of Mr. Marsh and therefore, the Cadillac Ranch and his name are not linked in the same sentence. What does happen is the great state of Texas and the city of Amarillo enjoys a fun reputation in its own right and leaves a lasting positive impression on the quarter million Route 66 visitors that come through every year with the desire to see Cadillac Ranch. Amarillo benefits so much economically and otherwise from the inoffensive nature of this inanimate and light-hearted location, I’d suggest to not punish the artwork for the generally-unknown-outside-Amarillo eccentricity of the artist, who at this point is not known to be “guilty” or “not guilty.” Removing Cadillac Ranch would only beg the question of WHY it was removed which would only then inadvertently market bad press for Amarillo and any alleged crimes more than leaving it alone ever would. I knew nothing about this until Mr. Buzbee’s outlandish link between Cadillac Ranch and sexual perversion. He should simply forget the link between the two and stop talking about it. Punishing the art for the potential behaviors of the artist invites an investigation into the creative expressions and odd behaviors of Andy Warhol, Van Gogh, Hemingway, and so many other “artistic” types. Leave Cadillac Ranch alone, please.

  12. Well, really, at the end of the day- how many times in history has some authority confused their displeasure against the artist (or patron in this case) against the art piece itself?

    I still think that given the unending “sameness” of the Texas panhandle landscape, pieces like Cadillac Ranch help break the monotony of the terrain- hence the copy cat “bug ranch”, the leaning water tower, and world’s biggest cross-all there to get folks off the road and to stop (and spend), maybe they should do way with them all if they take such umbrage against Cadillac Ranch.

  13. Ron, your idea sounds best to me. It would be such a shame to raze Cadillac Ranch—it has become part of the culture, or subculture; as Sean points out, it has inspired copycats all over the place. Marsh has very little to do with the Ranch—and the man hasn’t been convicted yet, either. Oi.

  14. Oh, and lets make sure it is known that this buzbee moron is NOT a resident of Amarillo TX, he is a Resident of Houston, TX. So buzbee, how about you worry about houston and let us worry about Amarillo

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