Dinosaur Park – Rapid City SD


"R. L. Bronson, secretary of the Rapid City Chamber of Commerce, first propositioned the idea of a Dinosaur Park to federal agencies after visiting the Chicago Century of Progress Exposition and viewed a mechanically operated reproduction of a brontosaurus. The government approved the five prehistoric sculptures, Triceratops, Triconodon, Brontosaurus, Stegosaurus, and Tyrannosaurus Rex, allowing WPA Project 960 to begin excavation work in March, 1936. An engineer, H. H. Babcock, initially supervised twenty workers as they prepared an area south of Hangmans Hill for the life-size reproductions. An office building that sat on the rim of the Stratobowl during the Stratosphere flights was moved to the area for use during the construction of Dinosaur Park and the completion of Skyline Drive. Dr. Barnum Brown, curator of the American Museum of Natural History served as a design consultant and provided exact measurements of the dinosaurs. Emmit A. Sullivan was appointed designer and superintendent of construction once the site was prepared, assisted by WPA engineer Walter Walking.

At the height of the project, twenty-five WPA workers assisted in the construction of the reptiles. Steel tubing shaped the framework of each dinosaur, covered by a heavy steel mesh that formed a foundation for the concrete. The Rapid City Journal reported that, reincarnated in steel and concrete on ground they once trod in quest of plant food, five giants of a past age will soon look down from Hangmans Hill on some of the wonders of the present agea ten story building, the automobile, and the airplane. Projects costs topped out at $25,000, with the Rapid City Chamber of Commerce donating $500 worth of welding equipment for the venture on land donated by the city. The project suffered a serious setback when Sullivan resigned as project foreman and left with the teeth belonging to the Tyrannosaurs Rex. The Rapid City Chamber of Commerce hired Sullivan to complete the project and the city dedicated the park on May 22, 1936, even though work did not officially end until early 1938. Sullivans wife operated the concession business at Dinosaur Park until 1968, when she retired after witnessing numerous improvements to the facilities. Overlooking Rapid City, the park remains a popular tourist destination and provides the residents of the city with a visual reminder of the critical role tourism played in the development of this area."

Project Details

Federal Cost Local Cost Total Cost Project #'s

Source notes

Bunkowske, Kathy. "Works Progress Administration Projects in Rapid City, South Dakota: Surviving into the 21st Century."


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Location Info

940 Skyline Drive
Rapid City, SD 57702

Location notes:

Coordinates: 44.078439, -103.246302

One comment on “Dinosaur Park – Rapid City SD

  1. jewel banes

    why did they want to build Dinosaur Park? Like canyon lake they wanted to “plan the develop rapid creak and canyon lake as a resort and something bout hotels” but what made them want to make dinosaur parks? What’s the back story?

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