If a barn and a dinosaur had a baby, it would look like this.
If a barn and a dinosaur had a baby, it would look like this.

Vermontasaurus

Field review by the editors.

Post Mills, Vermont

The ramshackle Vermontasaurus is an evolutionary throwback from the Hollywood-perfect creatures in today's commercial dinosaur parks. Depending on where you stand when looking at it, the wooden sculpture could be a prehistoric beast or a collapsed barn that somehow came to life and sprouted feet. Its appearance -- the way a child might scribble a dinosaur with a crayon -- is endearing to its fans, and its creation story -- equal parts DIY and eco-friendly -- resonates in its namesake state.

Spiky head of Vermontasaurus.
Spiky head of Vermontasaurus.

Vermontasaurus was the vision of Brian Boland, zany owner of Vermont's small Post Mills Airport. In June 2010 he had a pile of bleached old scrap wood on the property that reminded him of fossil bones, and decided to turn them into a dinosaur. "We had certain ground rules," he recalled. "We weren't going to spend any money, and all the wood we used had to have been recycled." Also, once something was nailed into place, it couldn't be removed.

Tucked beneath the dinosaur's head are bulletin boards filled with early press clippings and photos.
Tucked beneath the dinosaur's head are bulletin boards filled with early press clippings and photos.

In ten days Brian and a crew of volunteers created a creature 25 feet high and 122 feet long. They used old lattice and busted 2x4s, broken bed frames and pallets, guitars, chairs, crutches, ladders, tables, Tiki torches, toboggans, and the splintered roof of Brian's Museum of Rusty Dusty Stuff, which had collapsed in 2007. The resulting cacophony of disjointed planes and irrational angles accomplished what many professional artists never achieve: a sculpture so unphotographable that it had to be seen in person to be appreciated.

Stegasaurus built around an old minivan; you can slide open its side and climb in.
Stegasaurus built around an old minivan; you can slide open its side and climb in.

The press initially christened it "Barnzilla," but a visitor from Boston called it Vermontasaurus, and the name stuck.

Despite Brian's good intentions with Vermontasaurus ("I thought it would help bring the town together"), he had to fight to save it from extinction. Grumpy neighbors called it an eyesore. A local zoning administrator said it was a technically a building, and possibly illegal. Vermont's Natural Resources Board suspected that it was some sort of weird commercial enterprise. The state Division of Fire Safety worried that it might be dangerous. These obstacles were overcome one by one, and in July 2011 Brian cleared the final hurdle: a District Environmental Commission ruled that Vermontasaurus was not a threat to wildlife, and was an appropriate addition to Brian's airport, "a setting where a variety of out-of-the-ordinary events take place."

Grain silo Soviet space capsule.
Grain silo Soviet space capsule.

Vermontasaurus also proved capable of handling Vermont weather. Brian said that despite the creature's tumble-down appearance, its ragged carpentry had by accident made it geodesic and incredibly strong. And the countless spikes and flanges on its body serve -- again unintentionally -- as a shield; they take the brunt of the wind and snow, flake off, and leave the bulk of the beast unharmed. If Nature had made dinosaurs as higgledy-piggly as Brian Boland's, they might still be around.

Another minivan, this one modified into a camo war wagon.
Another minivan, this one modified into a camo war wagon.

Having escaped Vermont's bureaucratic tar pits, Brian set about burnishing his airport's out-of-the-ordinary credentials. He's dotted the property with dozens of custom-designed treehouses; a fleet of ridable, solar-powered boats; a motorized tank and Viking ship; and five additional dinosaurs, including one built around an old minivan, an aquatic version that floats, and another one on wheels that spits fire: the Mobilesaurus. "I try to think like a 10-year-old when I build these things," said Brian. "And I use a ten-year-old's budget, which is almost no money." The original Vermontasaurus -- now 160 feet long -- has evolved, through gravity and repairs, into a shape even further removed from a traditional dinosaur. But its admirers don't seem to mind.

"It's amazing the number of people that come to see it," Brian said. "I'll go out first thing in the morning and there'll be a car or two there already, then right through the day, and then after dark people come and park with their headlights on it so they can keep taking photographs. Holy crow! It's bizarre, the license plates and where they're from. I'll say, 'Oh, you're up here visiting someone?' And they'll say, 'No, no! We came here to visit this thing.'"

Vermontasaurus

Post Mills Airport

Address:
104 Robinson Hill Rd, Post Mills, VT
Directions:
Post Mills Airport. From VT-244 turn southeast at the white church and cemetery onto Robinson Hill Rd. Drive a quarter-mile. You'll see Vermontasaurus, which looks like a pile of wood, on the right.
Phone:
802-333-9254
RA Rates:
Major Fun
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Experimental Balloon and Airship MuseumExperimental Balloon and Airship Museum, Post Mills, VT - < 1 mi.
Drive-In Movie MotelDrive-In Movie Motel, Fairlee, VT - 7 mi.
Chip's Sculpture GardenChip's Sculpture Garden, Bradford, VT - 9 mi.
In the region:
Big Lady Squirrel, Salisbury, VT - 42 mi.

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October 26, 2020

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