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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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

Photo: Eric Allix Rogers

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Inside the mouth of Mr. Rex

Photo: Andrew Ranta

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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

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