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Roadrunner sculpture.

Recycled Roadrunner

Field review by the editors.

Las Cruces, New Mexico

The roadrunner is the official state bird of New Mexico, which explains why artist Olin Calk built a giant recycled roadrunner -- 20 feet tall and 40 feet long -- in Las Cruces in 1993. Back then it stood at the city landfill, and was made exclusively of items salvaged from it: Olin's way to call attention to what he called, "consumption, recycling, and just looking at stuff we throw away."

In early 2001, Olin stripped off the old junk, replaced it with new junk, and moved the roadrunner to a rest stop along Interstate 10, just west of the city. The roadrunner could be seen for miles, and gained a wide new audience of fans. Signs around the sculpture warned of rattlesnakes, but when we stopped by to visit people were blissfully trudging out to the big bird anyway, to pose for snapshots or examine the junk (We did, too).

Roadrunner sculpture.

By 2011 the roadrunner had deteriorated, partly from the elements, partly from grabby visitors. Olin stripped it down and brought it back to his house. It sat there for three years, waiting for the city to determine its fate. Wisely, they decided in favor of the roadrunner, and it was returned to the rest stop in June 2014. By then the landfill had closed, so Olin re-feathered it using thrift store rejects and scrap metal salvaged from the Las Cruces recycling center. It now has eyes made from Volkswagen headlights, as well as a body augmented with old sneakers, golf clubs, and plastic toys.

The roadrunner is now also perched atop a fake rock, which Olin hopes will discourage souvenir-hunters and the occasional idiots who in the past would "ride" the roadrunner. As far as we know the rattlesnakes are still there, too, so watch out.

Recycled Roadrunner

I-10, Las Cruces, NM
In a rest area on the south side of I-10, just west of Las Cruces and just east of the Picacho Ave. exit, between mileposts 134 and 135. Only accessible from the eastbound lanes. Visible from I-10 westbound.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Pink Spotted ElephantPink Spotted Elephant, Las Cruces, NM - 2 mi.
La Posta de Mesilla, Billy the Kid JailLa Posta de Mesilla, Billy the Kid Jail, Mesilla, NM - 4 mi.
Billy the Kid Gift ShopBilly the Kid Gift Shop, Mesilla, NM - 4 mi.
In the region:
Toth-Carved Big Indian Head, Las Cruces, NM - 6 mi.

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