Dinosaur Park, South Dakota’s Dino-mecca

By Michael Bushnell

This week, once again in conjunction with our “Remember This” column, we bring you a linen era postcard number 232, published by Curt Teich of Chicago, Ill., showing the giant Brontosaurus at Dinosaur Park in Rapid City, S.D.

The park was dedicated on May 22, 1936 and contains seven dinosaur sculptures on a high hill just off South Dakota Route 44. It was created in an attempt to capitalize on the tourists coming to the Black Hills to see the soon-to-be-completed Mount Rushmore National Monument.

Constructed by the City of Rapid City and the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the dinosaurs were designed by Emmet Sullivan, a sculptor living in Montana at the time. Sullivan designed the dinosaur structures in 1934 and they were his first large scale work.

Sullivan also designed the Brontosaurus at the iconic Wall Drug Store located in nearby Wall, SD. Another of Sullivan’s works is the Christ of the Ozarks statue, located in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and the dinosaurs at the now closed Dinosaur World in Beaver, Arkansas.

Construction of the creatures was done with two-inch thick black iron pipe, over which a wire mesh frame and a concrete skin was carefully laid. Originally painted gray, they were given a face-lift of sorts in the mid 1950s, their color changing to a bright green with white undersides.

Being constructed in the 1930s, the dinosaurs reflected the thinking of the times. The tyrannosaur’s original finger claws, as well as its teeth, have been lost or damaged over the years to where its hands are nothing more than stumps and its teeth are all but gone. Vintage postcards of the T-Rex do show these were originally part of the sculpture. The Stegosaurus also had a shorter tail with four correct tail spikes, but this has changed recently where the tail spikes have been removed (perhaps due to safety concerns) and the tail considerably lengthened.

The printed description on the back of the card describes the Brontosaurus sculpture: “Famed as the largest replica of a prehistoric animal constructed, the Brontosaurus in Dinosaur Park is visible for a distance of forty miles. Its head is 28 feet above the base, its length is 80 feet and in life, this creature weighed about 15 tons. Many fine skeletal specimens of these animals are found in the South Dakota Badlands.”

The park was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 21, 1990. 

Want Northeast News articles sent straight to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!
Enter your email address and click on the Get Instant Access button.
We respect your privacy

Comments are closed.

  • Remember This?

    November 30th, 2022
    by

    Dorri Partain Contributor Five, six, pick up sticks! As children have been picking up and playing with sticks for centuries, […]


    Warneke’s TipTop: A Kansas City icon

    November 30th, 2022
    by

    Michael Bushnell Publisher When John Warneke arrived in Jackson County, Mo., in 1866, Kansas City’s population barely topped 15,000 souls, […]


    Drive to your gate at the new KCI

    November 23rd, 2022
    by

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News Fifty years ago this month, on November 11, 1972, Kansas City International Airport opened for the […]


    Remember This?

    November 23rd, 2022
    by

    Dorri Partain Contributor To light or not to light? Whether displayed on the mantle or the Thanksgiving dinner table, these […]


    Remember This?

    November 16th, 2022
    by

    Dorri Partain Contributor A handy book that fits in your hand, this student handbook from the archives of the Northeast […]


    Missouri Pacific: Route of the Eagles

    November 16th, 2022
    by

    Michael Bushnell Publisher Published for the Missouri Pacific–Iron Mountain & Southern Railway, this promotional postcard shows a picturesque view as […]


    Sheffield Car Works, part of the thriving Blue Valley Industrial District

    November 9th, 2022
    by

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News This week’s historic postcard is once again a companion to our Independence Avenue Community Improvement District […]


    Remember This?

    November 9th, 2022
    by

    Dorri Partain Northeast News Monuments and memorial plaques honoring those who served or gave their life defending our country are […]


    Time to get out the vote!

    November 2nd, 2022
    by

    Michael Bushnell Publisher The November midterm election is next Tuesday and right along with that we’ve got two vintage political […]


  • Remember This?

    November 2nd, 2022
    by

    Dorri Partain Contributor While autographs from celebrities may be the most requested, inscribed notes from family and friends can become […]


    Remember This?

    October 26th, 2022
    by

    Dorri Partain Northeast News Casting a warm glow on a Halloween night, illuminated blow-molded figurines once decorated numerous homes after […]


    Amusement park, beer garden once stood on the Avenue

    October 26th, 2022
    by

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News Traveling east on Independence Avenue approaching Hardesty today, it is difficult to comprehend that, at one […]


    REMEMBER THIS?

    October 19th, 2022
    by

    Dorri Partain Contributor A new type of candy named “Butter Cream Corn” contained no butter, cream nor corn, but could […]


    A Royal treat since 1899

    October 19th, 2022
    by

    Michael Bushnell Publisher The roots of today’s American Royal can be traced to 1899 when the fledgling event was referred […]


    Remember This?

    October 12th, 2022
    by

    Dorri Partain Contributor “Every bit of Bit-O-Honey goes a long way” Introduced in 1924 by the Schutter-Johnson Company of Chicago, […]


    Priests of Pallas, Kansas City’s original harvest festival

    October 12th, 2022
    by

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News In the late 1880s, Kansas City was awash with excitement that it too would soon have […]


    Remember this?

    October 5th, 2022
    by

    Dorri Partain Contributor Whether you only use a few drops or a tablespoon or two, Tabasco pepper sauce will add […]


    Electric Park’s favorite band

    October 5th, 2022
    by

    Michael Bushnell Publisher This week we celebrate October as Italian Heritage Month by featuring this Electric Park postcard published by […]


  • Northeast Newscast


  • Remember This?


  • Want articles sent directly to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!
    We respect your privacy and will not distribute your information.