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Slug Bug Ranch.
Texas weather is harmless compared to the fans of Slug Bug Ranch.

Slug Bug Ranch

Field review by the editors.

Conway, Texas

Slug Bug Ranch -- also called VW Ranch, Bug Ranch, Bug Farm, and Buggy Farm -- was created in 2002. The five wrecked Volkswagen Beetles, buried hood-down in the ground, were the idea of the Crutchfield family, who owned the Longhorn Trading Post and Rattlesnake Ranch on what had formerly been Route 66.

Slug Bug Ranch.

The buried Bugs arrived as a defiant gesture to a huge corporate travel plaza that had been built on the opposite side of the highway. The Crutchfields figured that they could stay in business if they could siphon traffic from the interlopers with something eye-catching and interactive. Slug Bug Ranch was a natural choice: a parody of the popular Cadillac Ranch, 35 miles west. The Beetle wrecks were originally painted a pristine bright yellow, and a sign next to them encouraged, "Sign a Bug." The thinking was that if you stopped at one Ranch, you had to stop at both.

The Crutchfields were right: Slug Bug Ranch proved popular as an attraction. Unfortunately, it didn't prove successful as an income-producer, and the Trading Post and Rattlesnake Ranch closed only a year after the Beetles arrived. Also unfortunately, visitors to the now-abandoned Slug Bug Ranch began bringing not only spray paint, but crowbars and sledgehammers. By 2022 the damage had gotten so bad -- not just to the Volkswagens, but to the adjacent empty buildings -- that the Crutchfields put up No Trespassing signs and planned to bulldoze the property.

Slug Bug Ranch.

That's when Steve Clegg arrived.

Steve had been parking his pickup truck and travel trailer at both Cadillac Ranch and Slug Bug Ranch, where he sold spray paint. "I like meeting people. I like Volkswagens," he told us. "And I loved this place. I didn't want to see it get tore down." So Steve signed a long-term lease with the Crutchfields and in November 2022 he moved onto the property. One of his first jobs was to pull out the most damaged Beetle and replace it with a new wreck, donated by the Old Route 66 Association of Texas (The Association had earlier erected a "Bug Ranch" sign on the land, a nice gesture that somehow got the name of the place wrong).

Steve said that his full-time presence at the Ranch has stopped further vandalism of the buildings, which he is gradually restoring to some approximation of functional use. He's already converted one into a permanent gift shop, where tourists can buy Slug Bug Ranch stickers, magnets, shot glasses, post cards, t-shirts -- and spray paint, of course. A donation jar helps with the upkeep. Steve's hours are generously flexible. "I get woke up all the time during the night" by visitors, he said. "It don't make no difference. If there's a dollar involved I'm gonna get up and git it."

Steve told us that he plans to paint the Bugs a solid color every six months "to give them a fresh start," and that he hopes to one day add a wrecked VW hippie bus to the Slug Bug Ranch (if he can find one that he can afford). He also said that he's open to adding more Beetles to the lineup. Anyone hauling a wrecked Bug on a flatbed is welcome to stop by.

Slug Bug Ranch

I-40 Frontage Rd, Conway, TX
I-40 exit 96, southwest side, next to the big MOTEL sign on the Frontage Road.
Donations appreciated.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

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