On the outskirts of the old mining town of Goldfield, NV lies the “International Car Forest of the Last Church” – an art installation of 40 graffiti splattered, old cars, trucks, and buses buried nose down into the desert.
Junk Car Slave
By far the best artist in the bunch.
School Bus Nightmare
Officially the world’s largest!
From the highway you can only see one, on a hilltop about a quarter mile away: a big white-and-turquoise school bus that points upward at a 45-degree angle from a steep dirt mound. It’s positioned to reflect sunlight toward the highway, as if to attract curious passersby.
The concept is reminiscent of the famous Cadillac Ranch in Texas, where cars are planted at an angle roughly corresponding to the Great Pyramid of Giza, or maybe Carhenge, Nebraska’s mocking salute to England’s prehistoric standing stones.
But there is no apparent order here.
Some vehicles are facedown as though they fell from the sky, while others shoot toward the clouds as if escaping from the planet.
The site’s creators – Michael “Mark” Rippie and Chad Sorg – call it The International Car Forest of the Last Church.
They came up with “The Last Church” as representation of the last church being inside each of us.
Rippie, who owns these 80 acres, began the project in 2002, when he was in his late 50s.
He’d spent decades around Goldfield (population 250, down from an early 1900s peak of 30,000), often sporting a wispy gray beard and dabbling in mining and other schemes.
He hopped on his backhoe and dug the first hole for the forest, determined to get the Guinness Book of World Records title for the most cars planted vertically in the ground. Then he tapped his personal boneyard of junk vehicles.
Sorg visited Goldfield in 2004 and decided to hang around. He thought the town was perfect for an art retreat and was fascinated by what he described as Rippie’s “insane project.”
They actually wouldn’t start working until after midnight in order to avoid the summer heat.
There were no mishaps during the seven years [2004-2011] they worked together on the project.
The junk car forest is much more than just a graveyard for abandoned vehicles. It’s a venue for people who relish the aesthetic of colorful abused steel against a backdrop of colorless desert.
Murals splay across the corroding metal, created by artists both known and unknown.
Not all the vehicles are planted: A ’50s-style ice-cream truck is simply parked on the dirt, with a vintage limo on its roof.
Once, a mysterious fire broke out in one of the buses and brought the local fire department. This led to the idea of having an end-of-the-world party in the confines of the car forest. Sadly, it was a flop. They rented porta-potties, had food and even lit one of the buses on fire but only 20 people showed up. After the end-of-the-world party, Rippie and Sorg went their separate ways.
Rippie is now behind bars, sentenced to two years in federal prison for violating gun laws. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, “In 1971, Rippie was adjudicated not guilty by reason of insanity for a 1970 armed robbery in Colorado and was committed to a mental institution.”`
He was busted last year for attempting to buy a gun without disclosing that history. Investigators found 15 firearms, including assault rifles, in his Goldfield home, and more than 22,000 rounds of ammo. The junk car forest is still open for visitors.
Lovers are cool though.
You wanna get high?