Just off I-80 in Dixon there is a roadside attraction with a prehistoric back story.
The sculpture started out as an artist’s dream. Now it's on the verge of going extinct.
You may have seen it...some call it the Dixon Dinosaur. It sits on a trailer at Cool Pumpkin Patch, near exit 66A. Owner Matt Cooley bought it four years ago.
"When I bought it, the thing was for sale on the side of the freeway for two weeks and the price kept dropping so I said we have to get it before someone else does," Cooley said.
The 40-foot brontosaurus is made up of scrap metal welded together. It even has moving parts.
"I need to get in touch with the guy who built it,” Cooley said. “I want to make more."
The Dinosaur is the star attraction at Cool Pumpkin Patch. Other scrap metal dinosaurs used to roam in Stanislaus County on a rotating exhibit. The artist who made the prehistoric sculptures has kind of vanished from the art scene, but we managed to track him down.
"I made some bad business choices," says Dino artist Allen Clark.
We found the 64 year old in a Modesto senior home. Clark has one heck of a back story.
"Believe it or not, I used to be a male stripper. This is me spitting fire," Clark said, adding he loves to show of pictures from his past. Some may not be suitable for our website.
Aside from being a ladies man, Clark is a guy with many talents. The Modesto man has a knack for inventing. Right now, he's working to solve the world’s energy problems by creating a free energy machine.
"It doesn't work right now," Clark.
Failure doesn't bother Clark. His apartment is full of drawings and blue prints of various failed or unfinished projects.
"Dinosaur Land was my biggest dream," Clark said. For the better part of Clark’s life, he worked to build a dinosaur theme park on a 28 acre piece of property he owned in Modesto. He built five different dinosaur sculptures out of scrap metal. Unfortunately, the county didn't approve it.
"I didn't feel like I lost,” Clark said. “I feel like the kids lost."
The dinosaurs were paraded around different areas for a long time, but a few bad business choices drained his bank account and Clark was forced to sell everything, including his Dinosaurs.
"It broke my heart," Clark said.
The scrap metal dino's are scattered around California. Clark says he lost track of most of them, but he hasn't given up on his dream. A welding machine still sits in a closet in his 10 story apartment.
"I would love a comeback," Clark said.
That comeback could come sooner than he thinks. Cool Pumpkin Patch owns Clark’s 40 foot brontosaurus and they want more dinosaurs.
"I am a farmer. We have the junk. He has the brains. Let’s make another,” Cooley said.
The pumpkin patch may not be "Dinosaur Land,” but it would seem life is throwing artist Allen Clark a bone.
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