The Wheel Inn Cafe's owner was looking for an attraction to lure people off the highway in 1964. The dinosaurs did the trick.
There are two kinds of people in the world: those who "get" "Pee Wee's Big Adventure" and those who don't, and I'm not sure I can be friends with someone if they don't. Alright, that's a bit harsh, but I firmly believe if there was justice in the world of entertainment, "Pee Wee's Big Adventure" would win a Best Picture Oscar every year. We were lucky enough to be passing by one of the backdrops of this epic opus while visiting California recently. The Cabazon dinosaurs figure prominently in the scene where Pee Wee and Simone spend an evening together and are then chased by Simone's jealous boyfriend Andy.
Claude K. Bell created the dinosaurs to attract attention to his Wheel Inn Cafe at the Cabazon exit off of Interstate 10. Construction began on the first dinosaur, "Dinny," the one one that looks like the Sinclair gas logo, in 1964 and was eventually completed 11 years later. The second dinosaur, "Mr. Rex," was completed much later in 1981. Dinny has a gift shop inside of him and the inside of Mr. Rex can also be toured. Mr. Bell died in 1988 and the dinosaurs' current owners have spruced up the place with some nice landscaping and a parking lot.
The current owners have also added a twist that puts them in the eccentric roadside attractions hall of fame: a dinosaur park with a creationism theme. The current owners are "Young Earth" followers, believing most dinosaurs were created on earth 6,000 years ago to coincide with Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden. The Dinny gift shop has dioramas of both an evolutionist (Mr. Bell's originals) and creationist nature. Who knows... maybe "The Flintstones" got it right after all.