Saturday, August 6, 2022

Saturday's postcard: Dinosaurs and a doggy overlooking South Dakota

This undated (but probably 1950s or earlier) postcard shows a pair of dinosaurs and a dog (for scale) overlooking Rapid City, South Dakota. It's a "Natural Color Post Card" made by E.C. Kropp Co. of Milwaukee, and it was published by Johnston & Bordewyk of Rapid City.

I've featured a bunch of E.C. Kropp postcards on Papergreat over the years; you can use the search bar to track down the other ones. In 2015, I quoted some historical information about Kropp from page that is no longer on the internet. So much for the knowledge being housed in perpetuity here. Here's that history again:
The company "began producing chromolithographic souvenir cards and private mailing cards in 1898 under the name Kropp. These cards were of much higher quality than those that would printed under the E.C. Kropp name. They became the E.C. Kropp Company in 1907 and produced large numbers of national view-cards and other subjects."
Dinosaur Park, which was dedicated in 1936, is one of the oldest dinosaur-themed attractions in the United States, and it's still around. According to Wikipedia, it was "created to capitalize on the tourists coming to the Black Hills to see Mount Rushmore" and constructed jointly by Rapid City and the Works Progress Administration (project #960). 

In a paper titled, "Works Progress Administration Projects in Rapid City, South Dakota," Kathy Bunkowske writes that "R.L. Bronson, secretary of the Rapid City Chamber of Commerce, first propositioned the idea of a Dinosaur Park to federal agencies after visiting the Chicago Century of Progress Exposition and viewed a mechanically operated reproduction of a brontosaurus. The government approved the five prehistoric sculptures, Triceratops, Triconodon, Brontosaurus, Stegosaurus, and Tyrannosaurus Rex, allowing WPA Project 960 to begin excavation work in March, 1936."

Emmet Sullivan was the designer and superintendent of construction, and Bunkowske notes that "the project suffered a serious setback when Sullivan resigned as project foreman and left with the teeth belonging to the Tyrannosaurs Rex."

Two more dinosaurs were later added to the original five. Wikipedia notes that the statues were originally gray, but "but by the 1950s the statues were painted bright green with white undersides." notes that Dinosaur Park is "probably the only dino park that encourages kids to climb on all its displays. This may also explain the rounded and worn edges." 

It should also be noted that the park, as you can perhaps tell from his postcard, sits atop a hill that can only be reached via a steep set of stairs, creating accessibility issues. Those have persisted for decades. But it was reported this past February that bids were being sought on a project that would bolster inclusiveness for those who wish to visit this historic attraction.

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