E.V. Nelson at Prehistoric Gardens.

Prehistoric Gardens

Field review by the editors.

Port Orford, Oregon

Port Orford is a great place for prehistoric monsters. It's a genuine rain forest, sheltered in a small valley, mild in climate, drenched with rainfall; a place overrun with giant ferns, drippy mosses and lichens, and ocean mist that filter sunlight through towering trees (when it isn't raining).

Ernie "E.V." Nelson settled here. He'd always loved dinosaurs, and in 1953, inspired by his surroundings, he started building them on his property. In January 1955 he opened it as an attraction, Prehistoric Gardens, and kept building dinosaurs until he had 23 in all.

E.V. often boasted that his life-size replicas were "scientifically correct," but his sense of color is what will impress you most.

His creations look like pop-art refugees from the Land That Earth Tones Forgot. And their authentic jungle setting wraps everything in green and shadow, ready to swallow anyone who might stray off the trail to get a better shot.

E.V. died in 1999 at age 91, not far from his dinosaurs, which are now under the care of his grandchildren. We asked E.V. in 1985 if he had any suggestions for others who might want to build their own dinosaur attractions. His reply was, "Don't," but it was advice that he never would have taken himself.

Prehistoric Gardens

Address:
36848 Highway 101, Port Orford, OR
Directions:
10-12 miles south of town on US 101.
Phone:
541-332-4463
RA Rates:
Major Fun
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April 18, 2014

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