You are making a trek through the California Desert on your way to the vacation resort of Palm Springs, when you encounter a strange sight. Are your eyes playing tricks on you, a road-weary victim of some time-warped primeval mirage? No, you have just come across Dinny and Rex, the world-famous and delightfully offbeat Cabazon Dinosaurs.
The first thought that might occur to you is “Why on earth are these dinosaurs here in the middle of nowhere?” Simple, they were built by sculptor Claude Bell to attract road travelers to his Wheel Inn Café. Using leftover materials from the construction of Interstate 10, he began to create his hundred-ton brontosaurus, Dinny, finished in 1964. Deciding that Dinny needed a companion, he added Rex, which was completed in 1982. Other plans by the sculptor, including a woolly mammoth, and a slide encapsulated within Dinny’s tail were, sadly, never realized due to the sculptor’s death in 1988.
The dino duo were originally only known to local and visiting motorists until Hollywood lent a hand and introduced them to the world, first in a Tears for Fears video of the song “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”, and later in the offbeat campy comedy Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, starring Paul Reubens.
And while one might find it odd and mildly ironic that creationists would embrace these prehistoric life forms, the area was recently turned into a “museum of creationism” to promote the theory of intelligent design.
Regardless of your beliefs on the subject, at least it suggests that the lovable duo will continue to receive the care and maintenance they deserve and ensure that Dinny and Rex will continue to startle and delight travelers for decades to come. If you’ve encountered these dinosaurs during your travels, or simply want to share your thoughts on this intriguing roadside attraction, we welcome your memories in our comments section, as we pay tribute to these unforgettable statues.