Only In Your State: International Car Forest of the Last Church
September – October 2019
Nevada has many treasures, but only some of them earn the title of truly unique.
The word unique gets thrown around a lot, and its true meaning is often muddled. Merriam-Webster defines the word as “being the only one” and “being without a like or equal.” In this section, we highlight Nevada treasures that are not only special, but are truly unique and can be found nowhere else in the world; treasures that can be found only in your state.
Is an abandoned car in the desert in violation of leave-no-trace ethics? If you think about it, it’s made of everything that came from the earth, just assembled differently. Iron ore is mined to make steel, which is used for the frame and body panels; glass windows are just heated sand; gasoline is made from crude oil, which formed from ancient plants and animals; even rubber tires and plastic dashes are just modified forms of naturally-occurring materials.
While the argument’s a bit of a stretch, desert folk tend to be used to seeing abandoned vehicles in random locations across the state; so much so, that we often accept them as being a part of the natural landscape. We sometimes just ignore them. But when they’re assembled en masse, they tend to be a bit harder to ignore.
Especially when a rusted-out school bus is assembled vertically, almost as if it fell from the sky and became lodged in the Earth. Or when a spray-painted limousine is stacked atop an old ice cream truck. Or when around 40 other half-buried vehicles seem to have congregated like they’re attending Sunday Mass.
The International Car Forest of the Last Church, as the aforementioned amalgamation has become known, is the brainchild of artists and Goldfield residents Mark Rippie and Chad Sorg. Rippie planted the first seed (a vertically assembled car), which was admired by Sorg, who was so inspired by the sight that he moved to Goldfield in 2011 to help Rippie expand the project. The collaborations resulted in a large collection of delicately balanced trucks, cars, and vans, sprawled about a modest dirt section of Goldfield. Each vehicle is painted with a seemingly random theme, everything from colorful murals to simple graffiti.
The installation is free and open to the public, and can be accessed via dirt roads just east of U.S. Route 95 in Goldfield.