Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sinclair Dinoland, 1964

Sinclair Oil had used a cheerful green Brontosaurus as their mascot for years, so it only made sense that their World's Fair attraction would feature dinosaurs. You DO know that oil is made from the juice of smooshed dinos, don't you?? It appears that all of the critters featured in this exhibit used to roam North America, and that was probably less due to patriotism than the fact that the amazing critters from South America, China, and the rest of the world hadn't been unearthed yet.

I love this photo of the 20 foot high (but 50 feet long according to the souvenir guide!) T. Rex towering over the crowds. And speaking of the crowd, what's with the black knee-socks and shorts? Anyway, the Tyrannosaur's tiny hands look poised to play the piano. Were his arms animated? They look jointed, perhaps they waved about spastically the way mine do.

The Corythosaurus was a plant-eating dinosaur of the so-called "duck billed" variety. They lived in North America, were good parents, and their fossils were often found near giant tires.

At some point the theory emerged that dinosaurs might have been mottled or striped or otherwise wildly patterned instead gray/green or earthen brown. This Trachodon is sporting both stripes and giraffe-like mottling, which makes him a fashion disaster. He had 1500 teeth, which were mostly used for grinding up waffles and Slim Jims.

The Triceratops was one of my favorite dinos when I was a kid. "Old Pointy" here is non-plussed by the (French?) sailors passing by. I don't care what Michael Crichton (author of "Jurassic Park") says, I want my pet dinosaur!

OK, the Stegosaurus was one of my favorites too! Those bony plates and the spiky tail, and that tiny noggin all added up to one interesting animal. Stegos apparently had the misfortune of having to battle Tyrannosaurs all the time, it really got tiresome, especially when you were killed and eaten.


Rod Bennett said...

Thanks, Maj.

These are powerful icons of my childhood but I never found such terrific pictures before!

You're the man!

Anonymous said...

Whether it's Disneyland, Knott's or the World's Fair, I enjoy your photos every bit as much as I enjoy your commentary! Please keep it up.....and thank you!

Dan Goodsell said...

great photos and hilarious commentary (a rare thing in the world of blogs).

I never get tired of the Sinclair Dino exhibit. I love the way the people are in the photos, the other exhibits in the background and the walls that enclose it. Just great

Katella Gate said...

Yep, I agree, it does look like the T. Rex's arms are jointed, so they probably did move. I see he remembered to put his truss on too (you can see the straps under his skin, just like Wile Coyote.)

I bet there's a connection between the French sailors and the contingent of black socks boys. Maybe the French consulate hired a bus and took the day off.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoy your commentary. Great sense of humor!


Anonymous said...

Aww what cute monsters heha! I just want to reach out and ah... ride them. Aw.

The Viewliner Limited said...

Absolutely beautiful pictures Major. The best I have seen. Thanks.

Todd Franklin said...

Wonderful post! I wish I could step into these photos.

Anonymous said...

Sensational pics!

I remember when the traveling version of this exhibit came to my town as a kid! I got a bunch of the wax mold-a-rama dinosaurs from those souvenir machines.

Here is a scan of the complete souvenir booklet online:

Anonymous said...

Definitely a great memory. It was a long time ago, but from what I remember, the T-rex's arms did not move. Its lower jaw moved up and down, and there was a brontosaurus whose head and neck moved back and forth, but other that that, none of the dinosaurs moved at all.

Anonymous said...

We were discussing those wax Dino's at work last week. I went to my folks house for Thanksgiving and they still had two of them stowed away in the basement - a green stegosaurus and a blue corythosaurus. I was about four at the time but vaguely remember the glass encased machine making them for us.

Sherry Pierce Thurner said...

Yes - I was there. I took a terrible out of focus snapshot, and the result was nothing as good as these. What I mostly remember is backing up to take the picture, and sliced open the back of my ankle on the sharp lava rocks that lined the path. Those creatures really were dangerous!

JG Fuller said...

The tyrannosaurus arms didn't move. These were fiberglass moldings on a steel pipe frame.

For comparison, here are some photos taken by an eleven year old boy with a Sears Instamatic camera when the Dinoland exhibit came to his town, ca. 1964 or '65.

Major Pepperidge said...

Thanks for the info JG, and for the link to those great photos... that must have been pretty exciting for an 11 year old boy!

JG Fuller said...

I stand corrected. The TRex' jaw and forelegs did move, and the Bronotosaurus' neck would sway - but only at the World's Fair. The animation machinery was removed before the exhibit went on tour as it was considered too fragile to withstand the rigors of travel (with the constant loading and unloading, assembly and disassembley, etc.).

All but one of these models are still one display in parks, zoos, and museums around the country. The Struthiomimus disappeared years ago and, currently, no one knows its whereabouts.

FWIW, some sources state the Ankylosaurus is in a Chicago museum but there is substantial evidence that this is a reproduction of the original which is in a museum in Texas.

Unknown said...

Just awesome pictures! Thank you so much for sharing them with us! I was there in June 1965 with my brother, sister, mom, and dad. We lived in Philadelphia at the time and had stopped by the NY World's Fair on our way to Niagara Falls. I was only seven years old but I do remember going to this exhibit and afterwards watching my precious green wax brontosaurus being made right before my eyes. What a thrill! Wish I could go back in time and visit Dinoland once more. Dinoland was every little boy's dream. I'm scheduled to visit my parents at the Villages, Florida next week and I plan on going through the old photograph albums in hopes of finding a NYWF photo. Hopefully there's a few of Dinoland.
Bill Rutecki
Hanover, Maryland
December 17,2010