Dinosaurs Keep Watch Over Cabazon

Monday, March 14, 2011

Nope, that’s not an illusion - those are two dinosaurs staring at you from the side of the 10 freeway in Cabazon.

Dinny the Dinosaur and Mr. Rex have been keeping watch in Cabazon for decades. The creation of Claude Bell, a Knott’s Berry Farm sculptor and portrait artist, the 150 ton Apatosaurus (Dinny) and 100 ton Tyrannosaurus rex (Mr. Rex) were completed in 1975 and 1986, respectively. The goal of the dinosaurs was to bring customers to Bell’s Wheel Inn Cafe, right next to the giant sculptures.

Today, visitors come from around the country to see the dinosaurs that have made appearances in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure and The Wizard. There is a gift shop located inside of Dinny, featuring dinosaur merchandise and collectibles. About three years ago, the new owners opened a museum with robotic dinosaurs and small rides for children. The company believes in Creationism, and the new catchphrase of the attraction is “By design, not by chance.”

On a recent weekday, only a few visitors were on hand, standing at the giant feet of Mr. Rex and perusing merchandise inside Dinny.

“We’re busier on weekends and three days weekends,” said employee Jeff Brock of Redlands. “We’ve had people come from as far as Missouri, and a lot of military people come from the local base.”

Katharina Napoletano, 9, came from Redlands to visit the dinosaurs with her brother, grandmother and aunt.

“My brother loves dinosaurs, so we brought him out here after school for a fun little trip,” Napoletano said. “The dinosaurs are awesome.”

She was surprised to see how lifelike the sculptures are.

“They look real and the actual size of a dinosaur,” she said. “You don’t get to see that every day.”

Her younger brother Eric, 5, was intrigued by the items for sale inside Dinny.

“There are so many toys and a lot of candy,” he said. “This is fun.”

He was surprised when his grandmother pulled up to the dinosaurs, because he had never seen them from the freeway before or visited Cabazon.

“They are so, so cool,” he said. “I want to come back again tomorrow.”

For more information related to dinosaurs, visit rareresource.com.


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