Roadrunner sculpture.

Recycled Roadrunner

Field review by the editors.

Las Cruces, New Mexico

The giant recycled roadrunner -- 20 feet tall and 40 feet long -- has been an icon of Las Cruces ever since artist Olin Calk built it 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 decide its fate. Cool heads prevailed, and the Roadrunner 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.

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
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Nearby Offbeat Places

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.
World's Largest Chile PepperWorld's Largest Chile Pepper, Las Cruces, NM - 4 mi.
In the region:
White Sands Rocket Garden and Museum, White Sands, NM - 24 mi.

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December 12, 2019

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