It was with great sadness that we learned of the passing of one of our favorite eccentric roadside attractions. The Airstream Ranch of Dover, Florida consisted of eight different sized Airstream trailers (seven and a half, actually, to commemorate Airstream's 75th anniversary) partially buried and angled as an homage to the Cadillac Ranch of Amarillo, Texas. It was assembled by the Bates R-V dealership in 2007. The dealership was sold four years ago and the ranch was torn down a few days ago to make way for expansions to the new owners' dealership and to make space for an Airstream museum. While we're happy with the idea of an Airstream musem --who wouldn't be? -- we're a bit verklempt they had to take down such a funky one-of-a-kind work of art to do it. This just serves as a reminder to visit these wonderful wacky places while they're still standing because they may not be there the next time to you look for them. In other words, carpe 'stream.
Here's what we said in our original post from 2010:
Field of 'Streams: Dover, Florida's Airstream Ranch
Amarillo, Texas has the Cadillac Ranch. Alliance, Nebraska has Carhenge.
And the pleasant central Florida hamlet of Dover has the Airstream
Ranch, seven and a half shiny Airstream trailers of different size and
vintage upended and partially buried nose-first in a field along
Interstate 4, about a half-hour east of Tampa. The brainchild of Frank
and Dorothy Bates, proprietors of the Bates R-V dealership
(who bill themselves as the largest Airstream dealership in the United
States), it was installed on their property on 2007 in honor of
Airstream's 75th anniversary (hence the seven and a half). But like all
great eccentric roadside attractions, it wasn't without controversy.
Seems some of the neighbors hated it and Hillsborough County officials
fined the Bateses $100 a day until it was taken down. The Bateses
appealed and last February a three-judge panel ruled in their favor and
they got to keep their ranch. The Bateses' argument was that it was an
artistic expression, not an advertisement, and, while the judges avoided
answering whether or not it was art, they did conclude that it wasn't
advertising and it wasn't junk, so there it stands. And it's going to
get even better: "Now we're going to light it at night," says Mr. Bates.
Bravo to the Bateses for their eccentric artistic vision. If you build
it, they will come.
This blog is devoted to old fashioned American roadside attractions... the wonderfully big, bizarre, crazy, wacky, quirky, weird, funny, unique and mundane sites you see travelling cross-country by car in the USA, where getting there really is all the fun!