At a roadside attraction in Natural Bridge, Virginia, dinosaurs face off against Civil War soldiers in a series of bizarre scenes. In one, a steampunk Stonewall Jackson with a trench coat and telescoping arm battles a Spinosaurus. Elsewhere, President Abraham Lincoln sits atop a building as a pteranodon makes off with his speech.
This is Dinosaur Kingdom II, a theme park that acts as a funhouse mirror that squeezes the nation’s history into an absurdist revisioning complete with slime monsters and mazes to nowhere.
As part of the Folkways Reporting Corps for West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Inside Appalachia, I reported on Dino Kingdom II creator Mark Cline, his long road into weirdness, and how he’s passing the tradition on to younger artists like metal-playing, action figure-sculpting Brently Hilliard.