Americana Through the Years: Dinosaur Park - Atlas Obscura
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Americana Through the Years: Dinosaur Park

Americana Through the Years is a series of archival photographs, snapshots, slides and postcards from classic American roadside attractions.

There is barely an American roadside attraction more quintessential than the dinosaur park. There are at least seventeen still in existence, spanning from California to Connecticut, Florida to Texas. One of the most famous, and definitely one of the oldest of these is Dinosaur Park in Rapid City, South Dakota.

1960, via <a href="http://robotcosmonaut.tumblr.com/post/14359631258/dinosaur-park-rapid-city-south-dakota-1960-via">Robot Cosmonaut</a>

1960, via Robot Cosmonaut

Atop a hill in the Black Mountains, five life-sized dinosaurs have perched in standstill since 1936 (two more dinosaurs were added to the pack later). Dinosaur Park was created by Rapid City and the WPA during the Great Depression in hopes of attracting some of the hoards of Americans who would be visiting nearby Mount Rushmore (which was still in the process of being constructed). Not only did it do just that, it joined the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.

Still going strong after more than 75 years, Dinosaur Park continues to be a popular road trip stopover, and children continue to climb all over the not-so-modern vision of the creatures which once roamed our country, and surely will do so for many years to come.

1936 Press Photograph of park under construction, via <a href=http://www.minnesotajones.com/dinosaur_park.htm">Minnesota Jones</a>

1936 Press Photograph of park under construction, via Minnesota Jones

 

I love that a dog was included in some of the postcard depictions, presumably to show scale.

Vintage Postcard, via <a href="http://www.ebay.com/itm/Postcard-Triceratops-Dinosaur-Park-Rapid-City-South-Dakota-SD-/300647458543?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item45fffc26ef">Ebay</a>

Vintage Postcard, via Ebay

Vintage Postcard, via <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/craftydogma/6193240975/">Crafty Dogma's Flickr Stream</a>

Vintage Postcard, via Crafty Dogma’s Flickr Stream

Vintage Postcard, via <a href="http://www.ebay.com/itm/Postcard-Triceratops-Dinosaur-Park-Rapid-City-South-Dakota-SD-/300647458543?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item45fffc26ef">Ebay</a>

Vintage Postcard, via Ebay

1956 Photograph by Walter Reed, via <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/leonandloisphotos/1480427307/">Flickr</a>

1956 Photograph by Walter Reed, courtesy of Leon Reed’s Flickr

1940 Photograph, via <a href="http://images.google.com/hosted/life/22b6d6058b37966c.html">Life Photo Archive</a>

 1940 Photograph, via Life Magazine Photo Archive

1952 Postcard, via <a href="http://www.ebay.com/itm/SOUTH-DAKOTA-Rapid-City-DINOSAUR-PARK-T-Rex-Bronto-1952-Curteich-Photo-Postcard-/260964626967?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3cc2b43217">Ebay</a>

1952 Postcard, via Ebay

1940 Photograph, via <a href="http://images.google.com/hosted/life/993aebc6f35aeb24.html">Life Magazine Photo Archive</a>

 1940 Photograph, via Life Magazine Photo Archive

1978 Snapshot, via <a href="http://www.minnesotajones.com/dinosaur_park.htm"<Minnesota Jones</a>

1978 Snapshot, via Minnesota Jones

Vintage Postcard, via <http://www.etsy.com/listing/91955361/brontosaurus-dinosaur-park-rapid-city-sd>Etsy</a>

Vintage Postcard, via Etsy

1952 Snapshot, via <a href="http://www.ebay.com/itm/1952-RAPID-CITY-SOUTH-DAKOTA-Dinosaur-Park-Brontosaurus-SNAPSHOT-/400285382792?pt=Art_Photo_Images&hash=item5d32de3888">Ebay</a>

1952 Snapshot, via Ebay

Vintage Postcard, via <a href="http://www.ebay.com/itm/Dinosaur-Park-Rapid-City-South-Dakota-SD-Postcard-/230715417028?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item35b7b5e1c4">Ebay</a>

Vintage Postcard, via Ebay

1956 Snapshoy, via <a href="http://peggy-w.hubpages.com/hub/South-Dakota-Road-Trip-from-the-1950s-with-Family-Pictures">Hubpages</a>

1956 snapshot, via Hubpages

Father’s notes from this 1956 family road trip: “Next stop was the Reptile Gardens. Snakes of all kinds. Watched them milk a rattlesnake. They let us pet a tame South American Boa. Held up by a hail storm when we wanted to leave. In parts of the Black Hills they had hail stones the size of baseballs. Wouldn’t have believed it if we hadn’t seen them ourselves. Next on Skyline Drive to the Petrified Forest and to Dinosaur Park which was on top of a hill overlooking Rapid City, South Dakota. Enough for one day and so back to the cabin and get ready for tomorrow.”

 

1952 Snapshot, via <a href="http://www.minnesotajones.com/dinosaur_park.htm">Minnesota Jones</a>

1952 Snapshot, via Minnesota Jones, which has a wonderful collection of Dinosaur Park Photos.

License Plate Souvenier, via <a href="http://donglutsdinosaurs.com/dinosaur-park-souvenir/">Don Glut's Dinosaurs</a>

Vintage License Plate Souvenir, via Don Glut’s Dinosaurs

Vintage Photograph, via <a href="http://deepspacedaguerreotype.blogspot.com/2011_03_01_archive.html">Deep Space Daguerreotype</a>

Vintage Postcard, via Deep Space Daguerreotype