02 September 2015


Truck stop exit 106 on I-10 Cabazon, CA

The creation of the Cabazon dinosaurs began in the 1960s by Knott's Berry Farm sculptor and portrait artist Claude K. Bell (1897–1988) to attract customers to his Wheel Inn Cafe, which opened in 1958 and is now closed. Dinny, the first of the Cabazon dinosaurs, was started in 1964 and created over a span of eleven years. Bell created Dinny out of spare material salvaged from the construction of nearby Interstate 10 at a cost of $300,000. The biomorphic building that was to become Dinny was first erected as steel framework over which an expanded metal grid was formed in the shape of a dinosaur. All of it was then covered with coats of shotcrete (spray concrete). Bell was quoted in 1970 as saying the 45-foot (14 m) high, 150-foot (46 m) long Dinny was "the first dinosaur in history, so far as I know, to be used as a building." His original vision for Dinny was for the dinosaur's eyes to glow and mouth to spit fire at night, predicting, "It'll scare the dickens out of a lot of people driving up over the pass." These two features, however, were not added. With the help of ironworker Gerald Hufstetler, Bell worked on the project independently; no construction companies or contractors were involved in the fabrication. The task of painting Dinny was completed by a friend of Bell's in exchange for one dollar and a case of Dr Pepper. A second dinosaur, Mr. Rex, was constructed near Dinny in 1981. Originally, a giant slide was installed in Rex's tail; it was later filled in with concrete making the slide unusable. A third woolly mammoth sculpture and a prehistoric garden were drafted, but never completed due to Bell's death in 1988. (Wikipedia)


T. Rex

Wheel Inn Restaurant, closed

A shame to have missed out on visiting this national treasure when it was open.

 The truck stop with Claude's passing is now very much abandoned.


Dustin Bradford said...

Those dinosaurs played a major role in my childhood as my mother ferried us back and forth from Arizona to Palm Springs via I-10 and the Blythe, CA border between CA and Arizona (I had to confirm the name of that town just now, but somehow had it right, committed to memory all those years ago). I remember having to declare each time whether we had any fruit or house plants in the car. As a young child, I loved the smell of the freeway and somehow, to my senses, each state border crossing introduced an entirely new scent. I knew at that young age that many state borders were completely arbitrary lines drawn by men, but somehow, nature acknowledged them and created unique sensory experiences in each state, distinctly different from one to the next, even when the border was nothing more than a longitudinal invention.

D558 said...

After a long day driving, the dinosaurs have to make a lonely trucker feel human again.

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