|Tucked alongside U.S. Highway 101south of PorOrford, Oregon, Prehistoric Gardens has excited children since 1953.|
|Although this exhibit may be less sophisticated than the dinosaurs of Universal Studios Jurrasic Park, here children can walk through a real rain forest, produced by this part of Oregon's 80 - 100 inches of annual rainfall, and spend as much time as they like with these life-size reproductions. Each animal is identified along with a pronunciation guide for their scientific names and facts about their diet and the period in which they lived.|
|As a child, I looked forward to a visit to Prehistoric Gardens. My father knew Earnie Nelson, the creator of this roadside attraction, as they were both square dance callers. Mr. Nelson would often treat us to free admission making us feel very special. My favorite display was the baby triceratops freshly emerged from its egg (pictured above). On each visit I would scold the Struthiomimus (pictured on the next page) for being an egg robber. My brother and I would always dart quickly under the long neck of the pleisiosaur whose head arched over the trail. Then we crept past the winged Pteranodon. The collection of real animal skulls scattered at it's feet clearly indicated its dietary preference. Although Mr. Nelson sculpted the creatures as accurately as he could by studying their fossil remains, he painted them brightly. I think he may have done this to make them appear less fearsome to his younger visitors. The Tyrannasaurus Rex, that greets visitors at the park's entrance, only recently acquired its green scales and fierce-looking eyes. When I was a child, he was brown with a yellow belly, like the "water dogs" that swam in our coastal streams.
Of course, as children we found the gift shop as fascinating as the exhibit. Mr. Nelson kept the gift shop brimming with all kinds of books, toys, and games featuring dinosaur themes as well as sea shells and items made from Oregon myrtlewood.
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|Page last updated:
||November 23, 2004