Gene Cockrell's Dinosaur
In early 1992, Gene Cockrell took $2,000 dollars worth of concrete and steel and built a dinosaur on a bluff outside his home town of Canadian, Texas. He did it, he said, so that local children heading up US 83 would always know that they were almost home. He also wanted curious travelers to ask about it in town, then be directed to his house to see his yard art. He named the dinosaur "Aud" after Audrey, his wife since 1947.
Aud is 50 feet long, 17 feet tall, and weighs a ton. The road to the top of the bluff is gated, but Gene took us up for a few photos. "Watch out for the rattlesnakes," he said. The view was impressive but we mostly eyed the weedy ground.
Gene told us that he painted Aud black and gold because those are the colors of Canadian's high school football team. "I don't especially like it, and nobody else does either. But when they say something to me, I say, 'Well, what color was dinosaurs?'"
For years Gene has regularly visited Aud to give her a new coats of paint and patch her bullet holes. It's a labor of love, but Gene is in his eighties, and the bluff can be an unforgiving place in Texas weather (and rattlesnakes).
"I tried to give the old gal to the city manager one time," said Gene with a smile. "I said, 'It only costs about $40 to paint.' And he said, 'Ha ha, no you don't!' He didn't fall for it."