A T-Rex in Texas: Dinosaur Valley State Park’s Sinclair Giants!

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Ideally, cross-country road trips are planned well in advance and performed with the company of a good friend or family member. A couple of weeks ago, however, I basically tossed conventional wisdom out the window in favor of doing a quickly-thrown-together solo vacation to Texas.  It wasn’t without purpose, mind you, I had to be in San Antonio for my son’s Air Force training graduation on Veterans Day. I’d gotten the date of this proud event just a little over a month before it happened so I suppose the sensible thing for me to have done would have to simply flown in from Chicago for the weekend. Instead I decided it would be a lot more fun spending a week on the road while scrambling to get hotels and giving some out-of-state friends last minute notice that I’d be passing their way. I basically treated it as I would any Terror Daves road trip, minus a Dave. That meant lots of zoos and goofy roadside stops along the way which, in this case, included a town full of albino squirrels and a great white shark sitting in someone’s front yard. It also meant dinosaurs.

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As mentioned in my last post, I was determined to track down more of the scattered Sinclair dinosaur statues that had been featured in the 1964 New York World’s Fair. My son’s graduation created the perfect opportunity to start with the two most prominent ones; T-Rex and Brontosaurus – not far from Dallas which I’d be passing through anyway. Both of these beasts were currently standing at the Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose and, like my fellow Chicagoans Jake and Elwood Blues would say, I was determined to get da band back together again..or at least see them individually with my own eyes.

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I drove in to Glen Rose from Little Rock, AR on the evening of Tuesday November 8th  having stayed up way to late the night before watching the Trump vs Clinton Presidential election and shocked media reaction that followed. Since I have friends and family members on both sides of the Political aisle I’m going to refrain from making any commentary of my own but, suffice it to say, on Wednesday November 9th I was never more anxious to leave this world in favor of a “lost” one. After eating my complimentary hotel breakfast (which included a waffle shaped like the state of Texas), I eagerly took off to see the Sinclair dinosaurs!

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My hotel was only ten minutes away and spotting them was hardly climactic since they were both standing just inside the Park’s entrance. Dinosaur Valley State Park offers visitors hiking trails with actual dinosaur tracks scattered throughout. I needed to get to San Antonio that evening and debated whether I’d have time to do a hike plus visit another dino-themed attraction nearby (which I’ll discuss in my next post). In the end, Mother Nature would make that decision for me since heavy rain the night before closed some of the trails and a ranger told me most of the tracks were now underwater.  The only ones I’d end up seeing this day were featured at the “Welcome” center as I drove in.

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I arrived an hour before the Park opened but, after explaining to the Ranger that my objective was to simply photograph the dinosaur statues, he gave me permission to enter and take as many pictures as I’d like. As soon as I got a clear look at them I could immediately tell they’d been well cared for and could hardly believe they were over fifty years old!

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I’ve heard that some alterations were made to the long-neck as it had originally been created as a Brontosaurus; a species later debunked in favor of Apatosaurus. I’m not sure what, if any, changes those may have been but current science suggests they should have left things as is. The “Thunder Lizard” (Brontosaurus) is now back in the dino lexicon.

Near the statues was signage explaining their history which I had discussed in my last post.I can’t get enough of seeing the old photos while imagining myself time-traveling to the fair.

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After I’d photographed both dinosaurs at every possible angle, I went into the Welcome center to read up on the park itself. Though the tracks had been discovered well over a hundred years ago, Dinosaur Valley State Park didn’t open until 1972; two years after their Sinclair dinosaurs arrived.

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Despite the rain dousing the trails, I definitely considered this a successful venture as I crossed off the second two Sinclair giants (after the duckbill I grew up with at Brookfield Zoo) from my list. It was just 10am and I had plenty of time to see another dinosaur attraction that was just down the road.

Coming Up…Dinosaur World!  

Dave Fuentes~

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