All right, friends. Today’s post isn’t about any kind of structure. It’s more of a, um, roadside attraction, served up with a side of mystery and fairly recent history.
Behold: Ponyhenge. Set alongside a slow country road in Lincoln, Mass., this field filled with old rocking horses is a strange little oasis in the middle of sprawling fields and conservation lands.
All kinds of childhood memories live here. There are scores of old, plastic rockers. Hobby horses missing an ear, or a tail. One is metallic silver, another painted like Gene Simmons of KISS fame. One — a purple one with hand-painted hearts and stars — has a plaque dedicated to Evalyn Anne Rau (September 20, 2019-Feb. 10, 2020).
Another dates back decades. According to an attached sign, the aged, red, wooden horse is ‘”In memory of Francis Elliott (1924-2020), whose children, grandchildren and friends have ridden on this horse: John, Matthew, Susan, Danny, Joey, Bill and Dotty.”
Locals agree that one horse first appeared here about a decade ago. Then another. Then, they just kept multiplying. On our most recent visit yesterday, 44 horses were frolicking in the snow. And during the spring and summer, the whimsical herd basks amongst the wildflowers that grow here.
In 2015, the Boston Globe wrote a cute story about Ponyhenge, and it is listed on Atlas Obscura as one of the world’s hidden wonders.
“(James) Pingeon and his wife, Elizabeth Graver, who own the small parcel, have taken a hands-off approach since the first one showed up,” says the Boston Globe piece by Steve Annear. “Like many in town, they don’t want to know where the others came from. That’s part of the charm of the display.”
“Other people started leaving them, and we just didn’t want to know. There was something lovely about it being anonymous, and now every time we go away, another one appears,” Graver said, adding that they frequently change positions, too. Nobody knows who does that, either.
One year, a Kentucky Derby scene was set up, with a sign paying homage to Triple Crown Winner American Pharoah. Around the holidays, they’ve been wrapped in holiday lights. A few weeks ago, my friend said they were set up as though attending a concert, with the Gene Simmons horse fronting the show.
“There is something about the quietness and mysteriousness of it that I just love,” Graver said.
Rumor has it, there are about to be 45 of them. At least we’ll know where one of them came from.