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ALLIANCE -- For 85 minutes, an almost childlike excitement took hold of Jim Reinders.

The creator of Carhenge, who turns 90 next month, inched forward in his seat, pressed a pair of paper glasses against his aviator frames and craned his neck -- over and over -- toward the sky.

“I see it! It’s starting to come!” he hollered as the first tiny dot of moon appeared against the blazing sun.

He cursed the scattered clouds when they briefly eclipsed the eclipse. He politely entertained the well-wishers, Carhenge lovers and reporters who interrupted his viewing. And once totality arrived, he joined the few thousand people surrounding his creation in an elated cheer.

“Amazing,” he said.

Awestruck silence.


Another awestruck silence.

“That is something to see.”

He saved his biggest smile for the end, when the sky skipped nighttime and went straight from dusk to dawn.

“Thank God it’s gonna be light again,” he joked.

Reinders swears he didn’t know about the 2017 total solar eclipse when he built this otherworldly automotive monument 30 years ago. But Monday, the sun, the moon and the stars aligned to make Carhenge’s view the jewel of Nebraska.

While clouds and question marks in the forecast chased away some would-be visitors, those who found unobstructed views experienced a once-in-a-lifetime event.

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“That was probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen,” said Margot Ricketts, who watched the eclipse with her father, the governor.

“My friends are going to be really jealous. They’re all in class right now.”

She leaves for college next month.

Reinders soaked in the eclipse surrounded by family. They hold a reunion every two years or so, but the last one at Carhenge was in 1987, the year they built the place in honor of Reinders’ father.

Jim Reinders’ own son, also named Jim, remembers working the hard dirt in the heat. Buried under each car at Carhenge is a mound of beer cans and bottles, the family’s leftovers from each day’s work.

The family has a joke: “Carhenge was built with blood, sweat and beers.”

As his dad scoots forward in his camping chair for a better view, the younger Jim Reinders beams a smile.

“He’s reveling in it today.”

Reach the writer at 402-473-7234 or

On Twitter @zachami.


Assistant city editor

Zach Pluhacek is an assistant city editor.

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