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by Mandan Lynn
Smithwick, South Dakota
August 27, 2007
From journal My Black Hills
August 5, 2005
The park was built as a WPA project(Works Project Administration) in 1936 by paleontologist C.C. O’Hara. O'Hara, a retired professor, was a dinosaur enthusiast, and had even helped in uncovering many dino digs in the Badlands. He saw Rapid City taking shape as a tourist town, and wanted to help bring some more light (along with Mount Rushmore) to Rapid City. So he went to work on the concrete monsters (that actually are quite unimposing and friendly looking). This is a fun and free adventure complete with gift shop in this prehistoric park!
From journal A Touristy Tour Through Rapid City
Rodeo, New Mexico
September 3, 2004
We at first took a wrong turn, ending up on aptly named Tower Road, also high up, and home to many radio, microwave, and cell phone towers. Backtracking, we found where we’d missed the turn, which isn’t signed at all when you’re coming from the south off Highway 16, and proceeded to drive along the spine of the hill that is Skyline Boulevard. Quite a few nice houses have been built and are sprouting up amidst the pines here.
Soon we arrived at Dinosaur Park and pulled into the parking lot in front of the gift shop. Across the street steps lead up to the abode of five bright green dinosaurs: besides the 80 foot long, 28 foot high brontosaurus at the highest spot on the ridge, there are a trachodon, triceratops, stegosaurus, and not so ferocious tyrannosaurus rex. Several families were walking the paths and climbing and descending the steps leading from one dinosaur to the next. The younger kids were taking particular delight in climbing on the rather friendly-looking dinosaurs, looking more like those on "Flintstones" than "Jurassic Park".
Dinosaur Park was built in 1936 by the WPA (Works Project Administration), brainchild of paleontologist C. C. O’Hara. During his career, this retired president of the South Dakota School of Mines had discovered ancient dinosaur bones in the Badlands, and thought dinosaur sculptures might be just the ticket to put Rapid City on the map. Rapid City promoters were also hoping that this would be an additional tourism draw to their city, besides the famous Mt. Rushmore sculptures. The dinosaurs were constructed of iron pipe set in concrete. The steel skeletons were covered with wire mesh, and concrete skins applied. It must have been fun for WPAers to help create these giant creatures and see them take shape. When the park first opened, the dinosaurs were all gray; at some point, they were repainted green. Now that theories hold that dinosaurs may have been as colorful as birds, I wonder what Rapid City will do when the dinos are due for another paint job.
From journal Slowing Down in Rapid City