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These Nostalgic Dinosaurs In The California Desert Are Now Part Of A Creationist Museum

Updated September 23, 2021 11 items

Along California's I-10, the monumental sculptures of the Cabazon Dinosaurs scrape the desert skyline. Since Claude Bell erected these dinosaurs, they've become somewhat of a national cinematic treasure. Aside from being featured in an array of commercials and music videos, the dinosaurs hit peak stardom when they were featured in Pee-wee's Big Adventure.

Although familiar landmarks of the pop culture landscape, the dinosaurs' purpose has shifted since their purchased by a creationist museum. No longer just beacons of interactive entertainment and a complement to Bell's restaurant dining experience, the Cabazon Dinosaurs are now the gatekeepers of a creationist exhibit and gift shop.

Inside the exhibit, visitors can find activities and toys that push anti-evolution theories and claim that dinosaurs still roam Earth, even to this very day.

  • Claude Bell Started Building The Dinosaurs In 1964 To Draw Attention To His Restaurant

    Gracing the small town Cabazon, CA, are the Cabazon Dinosaurs. Although they've been considered an eyesore by the local government, they're an endearing attraction for people passing through on California's Interstate 10.

    Claude Bell began constructing these massive prehistoric beasts in 1964 to gain traction for his restaurant, the Wheel Inn, and did not complete them until 1981. While the restaurant closed down in 2013, the dinosaurs still stand tall as a roadside attraction.

  • The Brontosaurus, Named ‘Dinny,’ Was Constructed From Spare Parts From An Interstate

    Photo: Binksternet / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    Bell, the crafter of the Cabazon Dinosaurs, spent his life building sculptures and painting portraits at Knott's Berry Farm. The first of his dinos was a 150-foot-long Brontosaurus named "Dinny." Dinny was no easy feat to build, and ended up costing Bell $300,000. Erected alongside I-10, the dino was pieced together using discarded highway materials.

    Erected as an interactive attraction meant to last through the ages, the inside is made of a steel boning, the rest filled in with concrete. 

  • According To Bell, Dinny Was The First Dinosaur In History To Be Used As A Building

    Dinny, the bold and boisterous brontosaurus of the Cabazon Dinosaurs, has something extra special about it. At least, according to Bell, it does.

    Bell boasted that, as far as dinosaur buildings go, Dinny is the first of its kind. He claimed that no other dinosaur buildings existed before it. 

  • Bell Wanted His Dinosaurs To Have Glowing Eyes And Spit Fire

    For a big-thinking artist like Bell, simply building the shell of a dinosaur wasn't enough. His original idea for Dinny included glowing eyes and pyrotechnics.

    In Bell's vision, the dinosaur would terrify his guests, spitting fire with the eyes of a glowing demon. However, he ended up scrapping the idea. Dinny's dinosaur sibling, Mr. Rex, never got any glowing eyes or pyrotechnic upgrades, either.