Stonehenge II and Easter Island Heads
West of the delights of San Antonio (Ghost Kid Gravity Hill! Toilet Seat Museum! Wooden Nickel Museum!) we sense the attraction map elongating out across dry hill country. Cascade Cavernsin Boerne is okay -- then it's a route decision between a north diagonal to Austin for the night, or a 500 mile night drive to El Paso. But hold on... one of America's Stonehenges lurks off I-10.
Stonehenge II was erected as an amusing art project by the late Al Shepperd and his friend and neighbor, Doug Hill. Hill had offered a limestone slab to Shepperd in 1989, unused in his recently completed back patio. Shepperd stood the rock up monolith-style, and then odd thoughts started to seep into his head. He was gripped by what we've observed as a rare but not unknown malady -- Stonehenge Fever.
Within the next year, Shepperd bankrolled Hill to construct plaster and graphite-covered metal mesh and steel frameworks, replicating the mysterious stones of England, in the middle of Shepperd's pasture. He opted for a somewhat faithful replica, akin to Sam Hill's Stonehenge more than Carhenge or even Fridgehenge. The finished product is 90% as wide as the original, and 60% the height.
Shepperd added two 13-ft. tall Easter Island heads a year and a half later, after visiting Easter Island. The heads stand away a respectful distance on either side of the 'Henge.
Al planned to add a replica Alaskan totem pole to the tableaux, but died in 1994 in his seventies before realizing that portion of his dream. His nephew, also named Al Shepperd, now owns the property.
Though it is self-tourable and usually deserted, a sign explains the project.
It was quiet, the sun drooping towards a line of hills when we arrived. Okay, not entirely quiet. During the ten minute drive from the interstate, one of us insisted on blasting "This is Hawkwind - Do not Panic [Live from Stonehenge]" on the CD player as some sort of "test." After an audience-pleasing explosion, we turned off the car and communed with the semi-natural surroundings of rural Hunt.
The "stones" are about eight feet tall -- actually, they ring when you tap them. Sparrows or finches or some mud bird have built their strange nests under the crook of the cross pieces. Didn't notice any of the fabled fire ants, and we are grateful.
The entrance sign refers to the original: "Its purpose is unknown, and, perhaps, unknowable."
Update: In 2010 the property under Stonehenge was sold, and its new owners reportedly wanted to knock it down. But in the nearby town of Ingram, the Hill Country Arts Foundation rallied to Stonehenge's defense. They bought the monument (including the Easter Island heads) and trucked all 75 pieces eight miles east. In 2011 Doug Hill's creation debuted in its new home, near a small river and some softball fields in town.