The Cabazon Dinosaurs
Beside the Wheel Inn · 50900 Seminole Drive, Along I-10 · Cabazon, CA
In the year 1964, a man of transcendent vision and talent embarked on a project of incredible magnitude. "Construct a creature that will bring new life to this barren desert," the voices said to him. "Build the largest concrete reptile these mortals have ever seen." And Claude Bell answered the call. As if in an overrated Kevin Costner film, he gave in to the drives that urged him, although his field of dreams was to be tended by a 150-foot-long brontosaur.
Claude began constructing his masterpiece part-time as he operated a pastel-portrait studio in Knott's Berry Farm. While working there, he appeased the concrete gods as long as he could by creating smaller works for the park, such as a 9-foot prospector and his mule. But, eventually it had to be done. And Cabazon was the place to do it an ideal stretch of desert land along Interstate 10 which made the perfect location to emphasize the immense scale of the creature and to produce a constant flow of admirers.
It took him 11 years and $250,000, but Claude completed his dream and that dream was to be known forever as Dinny. (It's pronounced Diney, but we won't argue rules of grammar here.) Fortunately, however, he didn't stop there. In 1981, another creature began to rise from the dry, dusty floor. This time, it was a 65-foot tyrannosaur named, appropriately, Rex. In January of 1986, Claude retired from Knott's to complete this more ferocious being and was close to completion when he passed away prematurely in 1988.
To the uninformed, Rex does appear to be finished. However, Claude had originally intended to install a slide along his tail for visitors to enjoy. Unfortunately, it was never added. But, these two creatures are enjoyable enough without superfluous contraptions, although there is a shop deep in Dinny's abdomen where you can climb up and purchase a variety of prehistorically related merchandise to commemorate your visit. Still, Rex is pretty much there just to look menacing. (Even though for some reason during my stopover, light jazz emanated from his belly. Perhaps he had devoured a local KISS station as a favor to us all.)
Visit these two incredible monuments as soon as you can. Commercialism has started creeping in and taking advantage of the dinosaurs' celebrity. Although the Wheel Inn had provided travelers with the essentials for years, a Texaco and a Burger King were just being completed and I'm sure there is more to come. Of course, if you can't make it, you can always see the two stoic beasts at the height of their fame by renting Tim Burton's Pee-wee's Big Adventure.
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