The Dinosaurs From Pee-Wee's Big Adventure Have Gone Creationist

Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
Nov. 12 2013 8:11 AM

Pee-Wee's Big, Adventurous, 6,000-Year-Old Dinosaurs


Atlas Obscura on Slate is a blog about the world's hidden wonders. Like us on Facebook, Tumblr, or follow us on Twitter @atlasobscura.

Since the 1980s, travelers barreling through Cabazon along Southern California's Interstate 10 have been greeted by a 150-foot-long Apatosaurus and a 65-foot-tall T. rex.

Theme park artist and sand sculptor Claude Bell began building the steel-and-concrete dinosaurs, known as Dinny and Mr. Rex, in 1964. The main aim was to create hollow, climbable structures that would attract more customers to his Wheel Inn diner next door. But Bell also had a more personal motive: after spending years building sand sculptures and watching them disappear in the wind, he wanted to create something permanent.


Bell finished the Apatosaurus in 1973 and began construction on the T. rex in 1981. He died in 1988, but not before seeing his dinosaurs achieve fame -- they were featured in commercials, music videos, and the 1985 film Pee-Wee's Big Adventure.

Since being sold in the mid-'90s, the Cabazon dinosaurs have changed dramatically, but not in a way that's visible from the outside. In short, they've found God: the site is now run by Creationists. Dinny's belly contains a gift shop where you can buy Noah's Ark puzzles and coloring books featuring a dinosaur giving a thumbs up sign with a speech bubble that reads: "God does great work, doesn't He?" Laminated Bible quotes dot the walls and colorful signs espouse the view that dinosaurs were created 6,000 years ago along with other animals, Adam and Eve, and the earth on which they roamed.

Beside Dinny is a dinosaur sculpture garden installed by the current site owners. It features a medieval knight throwing rocks at a T. rex.

Dinny, the Apatosaurus with a creationist gift shop in her abdomen

Photo: Eric Allix Rogers

Inside the mouth of Mr. Rex

Photo: Andrew Ranta

T. rex and medieval knight (in red at bottom right)

Photo: Mike Souza

Other dinosaurs that have caused a stir:

View 50800 Seminole Dr in a larger map



Crying Rape

False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Why Men Can Never Remember Anything

The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Why Men Can Never Remember Anything

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

How Will You Carry Around Your Huge New iPhone? Apple Pants!

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.


The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

There’s a Way to Keep Ex-Cons Out of Prison That Pays for Itself. Why Don’t More States Use It?

No, New York Times, Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman” 

Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 1:39 PM Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman,” New York Times. Neither Are Her Characters.
Sept. 19 2014 11:33 AM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
Sept. 19 2014 1:56 PM Scotland’s Attack on the Status Quo Expect more political earthquakes across Europe.
Sept. 19 2014 12:09 PM How Accelerators Have Changed Startup Funding
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Why Men Never Remember Anything
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 2:44 PM Where Do I Start With Mystery Science Theater 3000?
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 12:38 PM Forward, March! Nine leading climate scientists urge you to attend the People’s Climate March.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 12:13 PM The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola  The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.