Highway 40 is road to extinction for Dinosaur

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(First Edition)

DINOSAUR, Colorado - Make no mistake about it, this is no Jurassic Park. Paint is peeling off the town's stegosaurus and the annual summer 'Bedrock Day' festivities had to be cancelled. Dinosaur, Colorado may be on the road to extinction.

Nevertheless, the town and its 400 inhabitants hope to ride the coat tails of Steven Spielberg's blockbuster Jurassic Park. The town clerk, Wilma - yes, she has heard all the jokes about Fred Flintstone's wife - Sims, said the phones have been ringing with people intrigued about the town after seeing the film.

Trouble is, having enjoyed the film's lifelike computer-animated dinosaurs, people might find themselves disappointed if they braved dilapidated US Highway 40 to get here. There isn't much to see. Three small motels, two restaurants, a couple of gift shops, two petrol stations with shops and a liquor store constitute the shopping district.

'I feel like a real Lone Ranger up here,' said Dick Blakley, whose restaurant - until last week the only one - offers such delicacies as Bronto Burgers and Chicken Frinaosaurus.

The town's troubles began in the Sixties with the arrival of expressways to the south and north that lured traffic away from US 40, until then the main east-west route. In 1965, it renamed itself Dinosaur, hoping to benefit from traffic to the nearby Dinosaur National Monument.

Times, though, have remained hard. Mayor Dennis Sims, Wilma's son, said Bedrock Day was called off this year because of a lack of money and volunteers. Past festivals included games, a dance, a talent show and a parade.

The Rev H D Pattison, pastor of Dinosaur Baptist Church, said that if there is a spirit of gloom it may be because people put all their faith in last year's attempt to legalise gambling. The town bought a police car and maintenance truck on the assumption that gambling would go through, but the proposal failed on a statewide ballot in November.

In the meantime, while America goes dino-crazy, the 15ft fibreglass stegosaurus outside City Hall is falling apart.