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Truckhenge in Topeka: When the City told Ron Lessman to “pick up” his old trucks, he did just that

David Goran

Located on the north side of Topeka, Kansas, Truckhenge is a grassroots art exhibit, part of Lessman’s Farm & Catfish Pond. Truckhenge and Beer Bottle City are also part of the Kaw Region Art Park, as designated by the Association of Shawnee County Recycling And Preservation.

A 1948 Chevrolet pickup, and the first truck to be installed in Truckhenge. Source

A 1948 Chevrolet pickup, and the first truck to be installed in Truckhenge. Source

Truckhenge was created in 2000 when a farmer named Ron Lessman lifted his antique trucks and buses he collected over the years and lodged each of them in the ground with 42,000 pounds of concrete.

A 1957 Chevy pickup. Source

A 1957 Chevy pickup. Source

 

In the early 2000’s members of the county government requested to Ron Lessman remove the old vehicles. Source

In the early 2000’s members of the county government requested to Ron Lessman remove the old vehicles. Source

After a legal battle with Shawnee County, Kansas over the trucks, a judge ordered Mr. Lessman to “pick up the trucks”. So, he picked them up. Each truck is anchored into the ground with 21 tons of concrete, and each truck contains several quotes by Ron Lessman, like “Rise Up“, “Freedum Isn’t Lost“, among others.

Instead of removing the vehicles, Mr. Lessman embedded each in 21 tons concrete. Source

Instead of removing the vehicles, Mr. Lessman embedded each in 21 tons concrete. Source

He turned the vehicles into megaliths and placed them along the road to the gravel pit, and they are the most visible part of Ron’s property. Along with the trucks, there are several beer-bottle sculptures and structures integrated into the park as “Beer-Bottle City”. On July 5, 2006, Truckhenge was officially dedicated as part of the Kaw Region Art Park after the Shawnee County Recycling and Preservation Association presented Mr. Lessman with a plaque in honor of his work.

The trucks are surrounded by other recycled object art and a variety of native plants. Source

The trucks are surrounded by other recycled object art and a variety of native plants. Source

On July 7, 2006, the Lessman Farm and Catfish Pond hosted a political fundraiser for the Libertarian Party of Kansas (LPKS), after the fundraiser was forcibly blocked from its original location at Lake Edun by Shawnee County officials. One year later, Ron Lessman began adding onto Truckhenge using several small boats.

Truckhenge in February 2006. Source

Truckhenge in February 2006. Source

 

Truckhenge during the May 2007 floods. Source

Truckhenge during the May 2007 floods. Source

Truckhenge has been featured in videos from the KDHE (KS Department of Health & Environment), Roadside America, KS Travel, Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations, and the Filip and Frederik Show.