Elmer Long's Bottle Tree Ranch - Oro Grande, CA
Posted by: DopeyDuck
N 34° 41.418 W 117° 20.359
11S E 468920 N 3838751
Quick Description: Elmer Long wasn't the first to create bottle trees along Route 66, but he has certainly kept the tradition alive with his forest of trees in his front yard affectionately coined the Bottle Tree Ranch.
Location: California, United States
Date Posted: 4/6/2009 11:53:07 PM
Waymark Code: WM65KM
Elmer has his own blog (visit link
) and Elmer's Bottle Tree Ranch was also noted in Andrew Wood's Route 66 Travel Journal. (visit link
Andrew's experience meeting the owner was similar to ours, and he writes, "Past Barstow, with its lovely little Route 66 museum, I'd take an alignment of the highway that'd I'd always missed before, make my way toward San Bernardino, pay a quick visit to the Wigwam Village in Rialto, and gun it toward the ocean. Little did I plan on meeting Elmer Long at his Bottle Tree Ranch in Oro Grande.
As the sun was beginning to set, I followed a friendly and dusty section of 66, which the McClanahan guide mentioned as being particularly photogenic. I read something about "bottle trees" but thought little of it. But I screeched my tires when I road past a yard filled with tall poles branching with dozens, hundreds, countless bottles. I pulled over and then heard the sound: wind transforming the glass containers into musical instruments and fans of varying sizes spinning in the cool breeze. A sign offered admittance, and I quietly began to wander the yard, not wanting to bother its owner. Then I heard a hearty welcome, or at least I thought I did. Lost in a forest of bottle trees, I felt a little discombobulated. Maybe it was a trick of the wind. But then I heard a second greeting, "Come on over here and sit down!" I spotted a smiling fellow with a gray ZZ Top beard motioning me toward him. I walked over and sat down, and that's how I met Elmer Long, proprietor of the Bottle Tree Ranch.
Elmer retired from a day job at the nearby concrete plant, where he picked up his equivalent of a college degree reading the classics, with a particular fondness for the works of Homer. Now he tends to his garden of bottles, occasionally venturing out to unearth more treasures from the desert that he uses for his various art installations. One of his greatest kicks is to visit with strangers who happen by, talking about his family, his thoughts on life, and his eccentric collection. As we compared notes on our kids -- he's got a handful working their way through college, and mine is just about to start -- I grew less and less concerned about arriving at the coast by sunset. Some generic image of the Santa Monica pier could hardly compete with the opportunity to talk with this cool dude. Our conversation ambled for its time until it was right that we part. Asking him if he'd pose for a portrait, Elmer quickly assumed the pose he often offers to tourists. I offered to send him a copy of the photo, but he demurred. Elmer has more photos of himself and his beloved trees than he can possibly store."