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Cabazon Dinosaurs

Along Interstate 10 about 13 miles west of Palm Springs in Cabazon, CA are “The World’s Biggest Dinosaurs”. I’ve stopped here 2 or 3 times, but I am usually in such a hurry to get to my destination that I never really take the time to fully explore this place. Also, I will mention that it is usually hotter than &@$$ and the wind blows so that you feel like a molten piece of steel in a blast furnace. Had this climate existed back when dinosaurs roamed I am reasonably certain that the huge lizards, I mean birds, would have been no match for the scorching desert sun – based on what little I know about dinos anyway.

The creation of the Cabazon dinosaurs began in the 1960s by Knott’s Berry Farm sculptor and portrait artist Claude K. Bell (1897–1988) to attract customers to his Wheel Inn Cafe, which opened in 1958. The first of the Cabazon dinosaurs, a giant apatosaurus named Dinny, was started in 1964 and created over a span of eleven years. Bell created Dinny out of spare material salvaged from the construction of nearby Interstate 10.

A second dinosaur, Mr. Rex, was constructed near Dinny in 1981. Originally, a giant slide was installed in Rex’s tail; it was later filled in with concrete making the slide unusable. A third woolly mammoth sculpture and a prehistoric garden were drafted but never completed due to Bell’s death in 1988.

Since 2005, new owner Gary Kanter, an Orange County developer, has been using the dinosaurs of Cabazon as a platform for a Creationist viewpoint. Currently located inside Dinny is a gift store and museum promoting creationism with some of the toy dinosaurs in the shop sold under the label “Don’t swallow it! The fossil record does not support evolution.” The current ownership has expressed a Young Earth creationist belief that most dinosaurs were created on Earth about 6,000 years ago – the same day as Adam and Eve. In stark contrast to that belief are Bell’s painted frescoes and sculptures inside Dinny, depicting a naturalist and evolutionary viewpoint. (Yes, folks, truth IS stranger than fiction and in this case we aren’t sure which is which!)

The Cabazon Dinosaurs attraction also features an open-air museum with fiberglass and robotic dinosaurs. Other activities at the site include a sand pit where visitors can experience a “dino dig” as well as a gemstone and fossil-panning sluice. These are the parts I never take the time to see. I think I’m going to have to change that.

Dino foot.

I intentionally left my camera at home this time since our visit was mainly centered around seeing old friends so all of my photos from the trip were taken with my camera phone. I have become a real Instagram addict. There are some amazing photographers doing groovy things on Instagram. I think I am so enamored with the imperfection of iPhoneography because my camera skills are so imperfect!

8 responses

  1. Nice pedicure on this dude!

    I admire you being able to leave your camera home. I’ve gotten to the point that I’m afraid if I did that I might start going through withdrawal!

    July 20, 2012 at 2:32 AM

  2. Very interesting history. I think your photo skills are perfect, you have a great eye for things!

    July 20, 2012 at 2:35 AM

  3. Mapgie

    Sweetheart, you should do a travel blog. I love how you find the useful and humorous in all things. Your writing is concise and informative while remaining interesting. I love the pictures you’ve used here. They are perfect for setting the time frame (although I guess we’re not really sure when that is) of these creatures’ “creation”. I know you would be up for the travel part of this plan, now if only we could find an “angel” to fund this adventure. Did I mention I would be willing to come along and carry your camera case and sharpen your pencils??? 🙂

    July 20, 2012 at 8:58 AM

  4. I remember when my dad stopped there when we were little. I also remember the scenes from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.

    July 20, 2012 at 5:33 PM

  5. I love your views of these dinos. There’s nothing imperfect about your camera skills at all. Several of your past shots…the lighthouse with that dark cloud especially inspired me on those playground shots. You have a knack for capturing atmosphere.

    Speaking of which, I laughed at the mention about the heat. I’ve passed those dinos but never stopped for the same reasons. That’s why it took me forever to visit the Ostriche Ranch. I get in my car and go go go…until I get to the destination. But I’m learning to pull over more. Nice captures of the dinos. You really make them interesting. And yes this heat can go:) Sweat on one’s a$$ is not natural:)

    July 20, 2012 at 8:05 PM

  6. so very cool…would love to see these in person…we had a dino world in FL that had large dinos that peaked over the fence…inside was really cool as well….i love roadside attractions….

    July 21, 2012 at 9:37 AM

    • ha. happy sunday ma’am..smiles.

      July 22, 2012 at 2:24 PM

  7. Your dinosaur pictures look really cool! I remember those dinos from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.:)

    July 27, 2012 at 2:09 PM