Cabazon Dinosaurs

Everyone who has ever driven out the 10 freeway towards Palm Springs has wondered about those giant dinosaurs at Cabazon, now more famous for its casino.

According to the Wikipedia, the Cabazon dinosaurs were started 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. Dinny (Dine-ee), a 150-ton, larger than life-sized sculpture of an Apatosaurus and the first of the Cabazon dinosaurs, was started in 1964 and created over eleven years out of spare material from the construction of nearby Interstate-10 at a cost of $300,000 (USD). With the help of ironworker Gerald Hufstetler, Bell worked on the project independently, and no construction company or contractors were involved in the construction. From 1981 – 1986, Mr. Rex, a 100-ton Tyrannosaurus rex, was constructed near Dinny.

More than mere sculptures, Dinny and Mr. Rex are habitable buildings; the entrance to Dinny is located at the base of his tail.

Weirdly, since 1996 they have been owned by a christian group that uses them to “prove” the case for intelligent design. Still, regardless of your religious proclivities, the Cabazon dinosaurs are first-rate roadside attraction sculptures and a fitting legacy for Claude Bell’s unique genius.

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~ by ravenjake on June 30, 2008.

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