Since 2008, travelers along I-4 between Tampa and Plant City in Florida have been getting an eyeful of the “Airstream Ranch,” an unusual display of eight aluminum travel trailers buried nose down in the ground near Bates RV.
(Updated 2/18/2017: However, according to RVTravel.com, “Florida’s Airstream Ranch,
a Stonehenge-like display of the classic trailers, will soon vanish to
the realm of memory. The display of half-planted-on-end trailers will
soon give way to the construction of – what else – an Airstream
dealership. Inside the dealership, the new owner promises visitors an
RV dealer Frank Bates had long had the reputation for “other visual stunts such as hanging a trailer from a construction crane near the entrance of his dealership,” wrote Ken Storey of Roadside America.com.
He “created what he says is a tribute to roadside architecture, and what his critics claim is his most audacious advertising stunt yet.
Bates considered it art, adding that “the easily-identifiable Airstream design is ‘truly an American art form,’ and that an Airstream is part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Frank says that he is a huge fan of roadside attractions, and that on a recent cross-country flight (in his personal helicopter) he landed at Cadillac Ranch, the attraction that inspired his work,” said Storey.
Bates’s Stonehendge-ish art tribute resulted in a two-year legal battle with the local code enforcement board.
“The county cited Bates in January 2008 for several code violations, including misuse of agricultural land and unauthorized outside storage,” stated an article in The Ledger in Lakeland, Fl. “A three-judge panel overturned the code-enforcement board’s ruling” in early 2010.
All of which means the “Airstream Ranch” remains as another unique roadside attraction and photo opportunity.
If you go:
Address: 4656 Mcintosh Rd, Dover, FL
Directions: Bates RV Exchange. I-4 exit 14, southwest corner. Park in the Bates RV lot.
Photo: Bates RV