While driving on Interstate 10 near Cabazon, California, it’s hard not to miss two gigantic dinosaurs standing amid the barren and arid land of the desert off the freeway near a gas station. Upon spotting them while driving one afternoon, we couldn’t resist stopping to check out these replicas of a Jurassic Age. Yet, as we got closer to them, it was obvious to us that they were simply the tip of the iceberg, attention-grabbers to a lost world.
Of course, we wanted to know more, and the lady at the gift shop gave us the story about how it all began with the vision of Claude K. Bell in the 1960s. The first dinosaur, Ms. Dinny, a Brontosaurus, was the first Bell created and is considered to be the largest dinosaur ever built in America. What was Bell’s aim? Simply to attract more customers to his restaurant the Wheel Inn, which he opened in 1958. Ms. Dinny was a project that spanned over 11 years and cost Claude about $300,000. To create Ms. Dinny, he used concrete and went to nearby construction sites to acquire unused material.
Then, in 1981 came Mr. Rex, a Tyrannosaur Rex that stands along side the 150-ton Ms. Dinny. Mr. Rex’s tail used to be a slide, but it was later used for cement mixing. The story goes that Mr. Bell also planned to install glowing eyes in the 100-ton T-Rex and enable it to spit fire at night, so that it could “scare the dickens out of a lot of people driving up the pass.” Fortunately for the drivers, these features were never implemented.
After our brief history lesson, we walked to the second dinosaur and discovered that the attraction extended beyond the dinosaurs. We came upon a sign stating “California’s Roadside Attraction,” which indicated the direction to the museum.
When we found out that there was dinosaurs dig and that we could win dinosaurs, I jumped at the idea and bought the tickets to the museum/park. The entrance was full of dinosaurs, from attractions to rides for kids to funny-looking dinosaur figures.
Mr. Kanter believes that the dinosaurs were created 6,000 years ago on the same day as Adam and Eve were created. Most people believe that the place is run by religious nuts who misinterpret Bell’s original vision. As a firm believer of the evolutionist theory, I was left speechless when first confronted with the gift shop’s frescoes in which dinosaurs appear to have lived among humans.
The dinosaurs are placed in positions in order to surprise visitors, and it’s obvious that the creator had put forth a tremendous amount of time and effort to make these dinosaurs look alive and real.
We finally reached the dino dig, where most people spent time digging for clues to these giants of the past. Everyone was looking for rocks in which different types of dinosaur names were carved. The goal is to collect them and bring them to the gift shop to get miniature dinosaurs in return.
My kids were eager to find those rocks, and they were thrilled to find some in order to receive small toy dinos. Overall, it was a fun day at one-of-a-kind attraction in the desert 13 miles west of Palm Springs.