Park Description Dinosaur Park, Rapid City South Dakota

Dinosaur Park is situated just west of Skyline Drive on the crest of "Hangman's Hill" overlooking downtown Rapid City, South Dakota. Conceived in 1935, the original park consisted of five historic dinosaur sculptures a rustic pagoda of stone and log (no longer extant), and two long, stone stairways (recently reconstructed). Two more-recent dinosaur sculptures, a concession building, and a parking lot all located east of Skyline Drive were added much later.

All five of the original dinosaurs are built in an identical fashion. The frames of the figures are composed of two-inch-diameter black iron pipe, which is set into concrete. Around the central frame, body forms consist of a steel framework reinforced at close intervals. Over this is a wire mesh to which the concrete skin is applied. The thickness of the concrete averages four to five inches. Each figure was originally painted with oil paint and given a chemical glaze to protect from weathering. Subsequent paintings of the animals were not recorded in terms of the material used. Oral tradition purports that the dinosaurs were originally grey, but today they are painted bright flesh green and white, with touches of pinkish red.

Built to authentic size, the five original dinosaurs have the following dimensions:

1. Triceratops, which is 27 feet long, 11 feet high and has 40 inch horns;

2. Tyrannosaurus Rex, which is 35 feet long, 16 feet high, the head is 4 feet long and the teeth are 6 inches long;

3. Brontosaurus, which is 80 feet long and 28 feet high;

4. Stegosaurus, which is 11 feet long and 7 feet high;

5. Trachedon, which is 17-feet-6-inches high and 33 feet long.

E. A. Sullivan was the designer and chief sculptor. Dr. Barnum Brown, curator of the American Museum of Natural History in New York, was the scientific consultant. Dr. C. C. O'Hara, retired President of the South Dakota School of Mines and acclaimed Palaeontologist, was one of the originators of the idea. The Rapid City Chamber of Commerce took responsibility for the project, and the Works Progress Administration [WPA] Provided engineering assistance, materials, and salaries for the workers. Work on the dinosaurs began in February of 1936. At first, cost of the Project was estimated at $24,000. But, by November of 1936, the cost estimate had risen to $25,000. The Chamber of Commerce contributed welding equipment worth $500 to the project.

Work was halted for a short time in late-1937 and early-1938, when a dispute erupted between Sullivan and the WPA. Nevertheless, the project was substantially complete by mid-year 1938.

Skyline Drive was started by the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) and completed by the WPA as a necessary adjunct to the park. Work on the road consisted of installation of retaining wails, log supports, and gravel for the road bed.

At some later date, two dinosaurs were added to the park and are now located in front of the concession building. These figures are much smaller in scale and less finely detailed than the original sculptures.

After several years of poor maintenance, the park was refurbished in the late 1960s. In 1968, the U. S. Bureau of Outdoor Recreation provided a grant of $18,203, which the City matched, for upgrading the park. (In 1967, a grant Proposal for $96,373, was apparently not awarded.) The work included a new Parking lot (to hold seventy-five cars), retaining walls, reconstructed steps and walkways, and a new concessions building with public restrooms.