Elmer Long’s forest of over 200 bottle trees along Route 66.
What does one do when left with thousands of colored glass bottles? Begin a massive recycling effort, or perhaps an obscure outdoor art gallery? Elmer Long decided on both after becoming the sole beneficiary of a massive bottle collection.
As a child, Long scoured the desert with his father, collecting everything and anything. While a younger Long took notes, his father amassed an incredible collection of glass bottles. When he passed away, Long inherited his work, as well as a loss at what to do with the strange collection. In 2000, an idea struck the famously bearded Elmer Long, and he created his first bottle tree.
Elmer Long is just as fascinating as his bottle ranch, always welcoming guests and willing to strike up a conversation. He’s known to complain about how people now prefer the interstates, even though they are completely soulless, compared to the old routes. He longs for the old days when people also traveled to discover the towns and wonders along the roads. I guess my interest is somewhat like Elmer’s since our family often traveled along Route 66 while heading back east to visit relatives.
Each way you turn, there’s always something new to see, including this Jeep in the middle of a bottle tree forest.
BTR isn’t all about the bottles, he’s collected quite a few interesting treasures including this old historic bell.
The Tree in BTR
Route 66 shout outs can be found throughout the ranch.
Besides being a beautiful gallery, the hollow bottles also whirr a sweet tune when the wind passes through them.
Elmer’s welding skills helped grow his forest of bottle trees starting in 2000.
Bones & Bottles
BTR is free and open to everyone but there is a donation box so that you can help him with his art and if you donate you can take a small piece of glass as a souvenir.
Glass Works. Donate and you get to take a small piece of BTR with you.
I was so thankful I was able to meet and chat with the artist. He’s extremely nice, likes to take the time to get to know you and doesn’t mind taking a photo with you when you visit.
No need to water these glass trees although you will find plenty of real ones sprinkled throughout the ranch which helps cool down your journey as you explore his beautiful creations.
Bones, bottles, lamps and parts of a stove.
Roadrunner, meep, meep!
I believe my family had that same exact cowboy statue and maybe even that Mac truck model at some point.
BTR is located along the Mother Road, Route 66, @ National Trails Hwy, Oro Grande, CA 92368 (between Barstow & Victorville). Stop by and say hello to Elmer if you ever find yourself out that way, you won’t forget it. I was always bummed that I missed the chance to meet Leonard Knight @ Salvation Mountain before he died. You never know when great folk artists are gonna leave this earth, so get out and meet them while they’re still here.