Friday, 2 October 2009

Bottle Tree Ranch

Elmer Long's Bottle Tree Ranch on Route 66, image: Ken Rockwell, seen here

Finding out about Elmer Long's Bottle Tree Ranch this morning has reminded me that this is a wonderful world! A beautiful piece of roadside art. Taking up welding after his retirement, Elmer started his project with his father's bottle collection and it has grown and grown from there. Here's a You Tube piece about him and his creation.

I found this image too, which is a similar project by Winter Zellar (Zero) Swartsel in Ohio.

Winter Zellar (Zero) Swartsel, Bottle Farm - seen here

The Bottle Farm no longer exists, but there is a plaque to mark its location - here's the text:

"A direct descendant of original settlers in Jackson Township, Winter Zellar (Zero) Swartsel was born in 1876. Throughout his life he was a natural born showman, teacher, eccentric, anarchist, and “possibly the grandfather of American Pop Culture.” At a young age and tired of the routines of Farmersville, he declared that, “He would live by his wits while his brothers lived by the sweat of their brows.” He and a friend bicycled first to New York City and then turned around to head west and eventually the world. Later his home would overflow with items collected while traveling the world. Outside was a similar story. While chiding the American people for their wastefulness and abusing their environment, his 22 acres of farmland became his artist's canvas filled with the thousands of items he collected from the “wasteful.”

Winter Zellar (Zero) Swartsel's farm property became a field of glass as he adorned it with sculptures and “art” using glassware of all kinds, bells, bed frames, wood, and other discarded items. His finest works, fashioned from bottles titled “Kindly Light” and “Full Measure” created the popular Farmersville Bottle Farm. The farm also provided interesting listening experiences. In addition to the bells and twinkling glass that rang out in the wind, residents in town could count on hearing “The Old Rugged Cross” played on loud speakers on Sundays. Bells on grazing sheep added to the “noises” he described as restful. The farm attracted visitors from every state in the nation except Delaware. Dying in 1953, Swartsel bequeathed his land to the community to become the Farmersville-Jackson Township Joint Recreation Park to be used for the pleasure of children."

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