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Featured Story: The Big Pink Dinosaur
In the late 1950s and early 1960s my family lived just north of New York City. At holidays we would drive up to visit my grandparents on their farm in rural Northwestern Connecticut. Before Interstate 84 was completed, it was quite a long drive that seemed to take forever to a small child. The old roads had a lot of ups and downs and twists and turns, and I always got terribly carsick. My parents would try to distract me by having me keep watch for a huge pink dinosaur statue that stood along the route. When we passed the dinosaur I knew we were about halfway there.
The big dinosaur was two or three stories tall, and stood in the middle of a gravel parking lot in front of a rock and mineral shop on Route 6 somewhere between Brewster, New York and Danbury, Connecticut. The surrounding area was heavily wooded. The sight of that gigantic dinosaur–which looked like a cross between a duck billed dinosaur and a Tyrannosaurus Rex–appearing suddenly out of the trees was thrilling.
Perhaps it was meant to be one of the larger theropod dinosaurs whose fossilized tracks had been found in the Connecticut River valley. Who knows? In addition to being of fanciful size and uncertain lineage, it was painted bright pink. Or purple. Or Green. Part of the fun of watching for it was trying to guess what color it had become since the last time we drove by. If the shop was open when we passed by my father would pull in and we would spend a few minutes looking at the dusty displays of fossilized dinosaur prints and bones. I still have a tiny geode that I bought there for a nickle on one of our stops.
When Interstate 84 was completed in that area, through traffic was diverted away from Route 6 and onto the new highway, which ran parallel to it. The dinosaur was barely visible through the band of trees that separated the new highway from the old route. There was no exit in the immediate area, so we were no longer able to stop without taking a detour and following the old road. It was one of those quirky roadside attractions that were more common along American roads before the interstate highway system was built.
A Photo Gallery of Roadside Attractions Past & Present
Click on any photo to start our slideshow:
All images in the gallery except the Big Duck are from the online prints and photographs collection of the Library of Congress.
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