Maintaining a Sense of the Bizarre: The International Car Forest of the Last Church

buried cars
Wednesday, February 21, 2018 - 5:39pm

On the way out of Tonopah, Nevada, we saw a warning sign: “Next Gas Station - 94 miles.” That in no uncertain terms meant it was going to be a long drive, but we had one more stop to make before shooting straight down US-95. A local had told us the night before about an art installation of buried cars about half an hour south in Goldfield. More kitschy road art? Well, of course we’d check them out.

After a missed turn and a questionable dirt road, we came to The International Car Forest of the Last Church. This art installation looks at Cadillac Ranch and scoffs. “You’ve got ten measly cars,” it laughs. “We have way more than you do, and we’ve got a BUS.”

(These are the thoughts that go through my head when I’ve been traveling for 23 days. Suddenly I’m the personification of inanimate objects, and they are invariably snotty-pants.)

buried bus and car

Anyway, this particular installation of car art is purportedly the largest in the country. At first it was just a car stuck in the ground by Goldfield resident Mark Rippie. Then an artist from Reno saw it and was so intrigued he packed up and moved. Chad Sorg was his name, and before he and Rippie had a falling out (something to do with a party and a burned bus) they’d installed over forty vehicles on about half a mile of empty, dusty desert.

car with artistic sun graffiti
buried car outside goldfield, nevada
International Car Forest of the Last Church

Unlike Cadillac Ranch, which was open to anyone with a finger and a can of spray paint, the art on these cars was applied by artists. Now, however, since Rippie was jailed on weapons charges, there’s no telling if graffiti will also take over the International Car Forest of the Last Church more than it already has.

several cars buried nose down

What about that name, you ask? I’m going to guess there was probably some sort of illegal substance involved, but it’s supposedly a combination of the idea that people freely roam forests, which is what they wanted to happen with their project, and Rippie’s opposition to organized religion.

buried car
Kids climbing on cars
Rusted and ruined Volkswagen bug

Our sense of the bizarre intact, we took our unburied, original-paint-only vehicle and got back on the road. By the end of the day we’d be in Utah, and we had a very long way to go.


The International Car Forest of the Last Church is a bizarre art installation in Goldfield, Nevada
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About Theresa

Theresa  Goodrich is the founder and publisher of The Local Tourist and author of "Two Lane Gems," an uplifting and slightly humorous tale of her 6,479.5-mile cross-country road trip. It's .

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