November 25, 2008
In 1863, a group of paleontologists discovered an abandoned mine shaft in Natural Bridge, Virginia. They were shocked to find that it led to a lost world where dinosaurs still lived, a discovery of great interest to the Union Army. The Yankees devised a plan to unleash some of the toothy beasts against the Confederacy, but the dinosaurs, were not keen on complying. The carnage is captured at a roadside attraction called Dinosaur Kingdom:
As you enter, a lunging, bellowing T-Rex head lets you know that the dinosaurs are mad — and they only get madder. A big snake has eaten one Yankee, and is about to eat another. An Allasaurus [sic] grabs a bluecoat off of his rearing horse while a second soldier futilely tries to lasso the big lizard. Another Yankee crawls up a tree with a stolen egg while the mom dinosaur batters it down. Mark [the proprietor] has augmented some of these displays with motors: toothy jaws flap, tails and tongues wag.
This is all fiction, of course; dinosaurs and humans never co-existed. The fiberglass monsters that are now seen in the park, though, have only recently begun munching on 19th century soldiers. They first appeared in the nearby town of Glasgow as part of a “Town That Time Forgot” promotion. It was a success, and Dinosaur Kingdom is so outlandish that it almost has to be seen to be believed. The next time I’m traveling through Virginia, I think I might have to make a side trip.
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