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Slug Bug Ranch

By: jwilder

Apparently there was a fifth Beetle.

bug ranch conway texas amarillo route 66

Bug Ranch (also referred to as Slug Bug Ranch) is a somewhat mysterious roadside attraction in Conway, Texas. Conway which is about 18 miles east of Amarillo. You might even say it is the "anti" Cadillac Ranch.

There are five Volkswagen Beetles buried nose down, similar to Cadillac Ranch. However the differences between the Slug Bug Ranch and the Cadillac Ranch are rather intriguing.

  • Half the number of cars (5).
  • Buried side-by-side as opposed to domino style.
  • Foreign rather than domestic.
  • Small, rather than large.
  • Economy, rather than luxury.
  • East of Amarillo vs. west of Amarillo.

So what is Slug Bug Ranch? Who built it? Why does it exist? Is it art? Is it a socioeconomic statement?

The Bug Ranch Story

Tom Crutchfield was in trouble, every day he could hear the bulldozers across the highway. It was only a matter of time. A very short amount of time. He had to do something. He had a crazy idea. But was it enough to save his business?

Cadillac ranch was known worldwide. Written about in numerous travel books. Heck, even Bruce Springsteen wrote a song about it. Why not do the same thing? So, in 2002, Bug Ranch was created. If you’re going to compete with Tom Crutchfield you’re going to have to build a better roadside attraction.

The Crutchfield family knew business. They’ve been in business on that plot of land since 1967. They offered weary travelers excitement with their rattlesnake ranch. They provided souvenirs through their curio shop and gasoline to get your car back on the road. But unfortunately, their new Bug Ranch attraction wasn't drawing the crowds.

Tom Crutchfield was battling Loves Travel Stop, a shiny new oasis on the other side of the highway. Tom knew it would be nothing but bad news for the Crutchfield family to continue as is. The decision was made, and the Crutchfield family sold the entire enterprise. In 2003, Crutchfield family picked up and moved to East Texas.

The Bug Ranch School of Marketing

Cadillac Ranch was created as public art. There are no souvenirs to buy. No admission fee. And being outdoors, it’s effectively open all the time. Whether you visit or not, it is still what it is, art.

Alternatively, most road side attractions are created specifically to get the attention of drivers and give them a reason to stop at your business. The Bug Ranch is a textbook example of this type of roadside attraction. Tom even leveraged a famous roadside attraction to give his creation a boost!

Roadside attraction marketing is exactly why you and I find Route 66 so fascinating and visually entertaining.

Bug Ranch Location

The Bug Ranch (map) is located at the southwest corner of I40 and 207, exit 96.

There’s plenty of room to pull over and enjoy this attraction.

Don't forget to bring some sort of felt tip pen so you can leave a message.

More Bug Ranch Photos

bug ranch conway texas amarillo route 66

bug ranch conway texas amarillo route 66

bug ranch conway texas amarillo route 66

bug ranch conway texas amarillo route 66

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