Dinosaur Park, Rapid City, South Dakota

When I was 11 years old, my Mom took me on a vacation to Rapid City, in the Black Hills of South Dakota, where we visited Dinosaur Park, located atop a hill overlooking the town…


















…and to the Museum of Geology at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.











Dinosaur Park and the Museum of Geology had nice gift shops that sold, among other things, dinosaur models and real vertebrate fossils. Of course I bought and saved some of these items, including some indigenous dinosaur and related pennants from the area and lots of Dinosaur Park postcards.

At this time I was just beginning to collect prehistoric items – some books, also a few metal and ceramic figures bought at museum gift shops in my home town of Chicago. Who could have guessed what the future would bring (including these souvenirs (e.g., cups and plates) featuring Dinosaur Park).


Dinosaur Park cup


Dinosaur Park was erected as a WPA project during the middle 1930s. The statues were made of cement, sculpted by local artist Emmet Sullivan. (In 1955 the park produced and sold copies of a small Protoceratops model also made by Sullivnan.) This was the first park of its kind in North America. There would be many more such prehistoric parks over the years and decades.

There were (and would  be) many attractions in the Black Hills of South Dakota that of interest to paleontology and geology enthusiasts, including a “petrified forest.” And. of course, we also had a tour through the fossil-rich Badlands.