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THE BEST...THE BEAUTIFUL...AND THE BIZARRE | SAND DOOM
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Hold the Pterodactyls

September 27, 1998|Tim Harrison

First the Ice Age. Now this! For those traveling east on that blighted expanse known as Interstate 10, they're a break from the sprawl of bad stucco and tinted glass, an actual roadside attraction that harks back to days spent in the back seat of the family station wagon. Dinney and Rex, those larger-than-lifesize dinosaurs residing next to the Wheel Inn out in Cabazon, have long been an invitation to exhale and readjust your gaze--until now. Alas, seeing the world-famous duo featured in "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure" isn't so easy now that Burger King has come to town.

The late Claude K. Bell, a portrait artist at Knott's Berry Farm and self-proclaimed "dinosaur nut," built Dinney, the 150-foot-long brontosaurus, and Rex, the 65-foot-tall tyrannosaurus, with concrete and reinforced steel, some of which was cast-off freeway construction material. Unfortunately, when he began construction in 1964, Bell chose a flood plain as the site for his Dinosaur Park. And building codes being what they are today, drainage considerations forced a new, very un-Jurassic two-story Burger King to be situated above a drainage culvert--smack dab in front of the dinosaurs.

Gary Kanter of the Kanter Family Trust, which purchased the dinosaurs and the land around them from the Bell family four years ago, says, "We're proud of the dinosaurs and we'd like to see Burger King do something to incorporate them into their theme." The Kanters' plans for the site include a 25,000-square-foot "dinosaur museum." No word from Burger King thus far. But don't panic. Dinney and Rex continue to leave footprints in the sand--only you may need a paleontology degree to find them.

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