In the eastern part of Apple Valley, California, visitors might be surprised to come across some very unusual creatures in the desert: dinosaurs. These remarkable creatures, all made of concrete, are found about three miles from Highway 18 on the Cahuilla Road.
From a young age, Lonnie Coffman had been fascinated by dinosaurs, and he wanted to build an attraction that would bring joy to hundreds of children. When he became the owner of a house that was near to a dilapidated golf course, he hired Air Force serviceman Gregory L. Wicker to help him start building his dream.
Coffman’s plan was to build a miniature golf course featuring thirty dinosaurs. His creations were made out of wire mesh, steel rods, and concrete. When interviewed later, he said he’d had no intention of charging admission to the course once it was complete. He merely wanted to make a magical place for children.
Construction began in the early 1970s, and some of the dinosaurs were over 15 feet tall. As building progressed, Coffman allowed buses of school children to come out and visit his attraction, telling them facts about the dinosaurs he was building.
It has been reported that Coffman also wrote to Washington to obtain the exact measurements of Noah’s Ark so that he could add that to his collection as well.
For 12 years, Lonnie was able to pay for the construction from his personal funds. Neighbors described how he would be out there at every available opportunity, working on his creations. But when his personal money ran out, he turned to the county for help in financing his 17-acre park.
Sadly, Lonnie was denied his request and was forced to give up his dream. Frustrated, he left the area in 1982, leaving his dinosaurs to the mercy of the desert.
Today, the impressive concrete creatures are slowly crumbling away. Many of them have lost some part of their anatomy. As the outer layer wears away, the wire mesh inside is increasingly exposed. In some cases, sunbleached newspapers from the 1970s that were used to stuff the frame can be glimpsed inside.
While these forgotten statues form a unique and enticing attraction in the desert, many of the structures are known to have become home to snakes, wasps, bees, and desert rodents. Visitors need to be careful not only of these animals but also of sections of a disused barbed-wire fence that are still lying around.
In addition, this forgotten dinosaur park is also quite close to various occupied residences, so explorers need to be mindful not to stray onto private property.
This place is not well known, and there are even some Apple Valley locals who are not aware that it exists. But from time to time, news of it flickers across the internet, drawing more curious people to Apple Valley.
Visitors have mixed reactions to these crumbling desert creatures. Some find the ruins allow them to reminisce about the Jurassic era and childhood passions, while others find the structures peculiarly creepy.
A big thank you to Alex Papa for giving us his permission to share these photos of abandoned concrete that has turned into such a curious sight in Apple Valley, CA. His passion is photography, and he publishes his works on his Flickr account. Check it out via this link.
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