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Beehive Archive: Dinah the Dino

By Staff | Jan 17, 2024

Welcome to the Beehive Archive — your weekly bite-sized look at some of the most pivotal — and peculiar — events in Utah history. With all of the history and none of the dust, the Beehive Archive is a fun way to catch up on Utah’s past. Beehive Archive is a production of Utah Humanities, provided to local papers as a weekly feature article focusing on Utah history topics drawn from our award-winning radio series, which can be heard each week on Utah Public Radio.

She’s big, pink, and has long beautiful eyelashes. Learn more about this unique rural Utah icon. Looming large on the side of Highway 40 in eastern Utah, a sign reading “Vernal: Utah’s Dinosaur Land” greets visitors as they enter town. It’s a welcoming message, though this is no ordinary sign – for it is clutched in the hands of a ginormous andy-pink dinosaur named Dinah. More than just a quirky roadside art installation, this dinosaur is an icon and symbol of community preservation in Vernal.

Across the American West, roadside statues of prehistoric dinosaurs are common. These ancient creatures and their cartoonish caricatures today represent grand landscapes and adventure. In Vernal, dinosaurs are integral to community identity and history. Located near Dinosaur National Monument with its precious paleontological sites such as the Carnegie Bone Quarry, Vernal is a gateway to dinosaur tourism. But Vernal residents also take special pride in their unique collection of roadside dino art.

Dinah was commissioned from the YESCO Sign Co. in 1958 by businessman George Millecam, who owned the Dine-A-Ville hotel in downtown Vernal. Between 1967 and 1970, Millecam commissioned the construction of seven dinosaurs across Vernal to draw attention to the area’s fossils and other attractions. Although these roadside dinosaurs vary in size and color, Dinah is one of the oldest. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, she was originally crafted with a steel frame supporting 4,200 pounds of fiberglass, and had mechanical eyes that could light up and roll around. Dinah became an instant favorite for residents and visitors alike and was used by the area’s Chamber of Commerce to promote local events and tourism.

Today, public statues built by Millecam – including Dinah – are a source of local pride. Some are preserved with public funds, and many are dressed up and decorated for the holidays. As for Dinah, she wasn’t always bright pink – originally she sported a similar shade of orange – and in the 1990s, she had to move to the opposite end of town when the Millecam’s Dine-A-Ville hotel closed. But the city of Vernal was happy to take her in, and after some restoration and a new paint job, she is now the city’s mascot welcoming everyone with her lovely large eyes, long eyelashes, and cheeky grin from 40 feet high.

Beehive Archive is a production of Utah Humanities and its partners. Sources consulted in the creation of the Beehive Archive and past episodes may be found at www.utahhumanities.org/stories.


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