t: A n I K tellllnillllillllVMilWl'tmiMliril!!,) '.I Wi II V Lonnie H. r -ft - -t iH,V 4 Staff photos by Karen Eichert my :;7 ' ' V it a ilr ' X -'"X f ;,; ? " ' --0 . ' ' v :: XXxXx: XX --jC '''-- :? Xx X'Xi JX y1 XA ' ; X Xx - t XX N v " milling i1-V W w" A -"" Coffman fashions a Tyrannosaurus eye r "mhkWvA .i :5 ' J? mM Brachiosauruses in dry "swamp" have nostrils in topknots X ! v. ' "- &x i-y I i-m-,y.;sy Huge figures, broken bottles and palm trees in a surrealistic F ! ore! APPLE VALLEY "I started it as a 17-hole private miniature golf course but things got out of hand," Lonnie Coffman said. Out of Coffman's hands has come Dinosaur Swampland, a prehistoric menagerie of life-size dinosaurs and reptiles he started on his 20-acres seven years ago. - "When I was a child, we heard folklore stories about dragons and giants," Coffman said. He said that when he went to school and learned about dinosaurs, he wondered how big they were. "So I started to build one," he said. In seven years that one has become 19 dinosaurs and 26 reptiles and amphibians that look like a mirage of gracefully arching pale-green shapes rising from a flat desert area. "I work six days a week on them, sometimes seven," Coffman said, strolling among the statues. He said he knows the names of most of the animals but he has a few yet to learn. Coffman knows how the animals lived and he explained their habits. He has formed statues of the familiar dinosaurs children read about in textbooks and of some not so familiar. "The tyrannosaurus is carnivorous" Coffman said as he led the way toward a sinister looking 14-foot-high dinosaur with gaping jaws standing on two legs. "Look at how the legs are like a chicken's legs. The feet have three toes in front and one in back just like a chicken's," he said. Near the standing tyrannosaurus Rex, an unfinished "dead" tyrannosaurus lay on the ground. The standing tyrannosaurus has a backbone of steel pipe that also supports its legs. An interior wooden -w 7H;.i 7 "..... ;ij1;7 f itMwM Sin' 7: ;:;:7' " 'v;.77v:7. . : i ;: :!i . m 7 ..::. -. ' , y 7 ;i7 7-;T V 7?-75. f ; ..7 : ,7 : i amSW: i J 7: mmmmmMimmf:ffi- 7 7S ...:::!':; V?7- 'XifV 7i7:7777 f.fcS Son., Nov. 2, 1 A. 41 Xtl Miniature golf course gets prehistorically out of hand frame was covered first with stucco wire, then with a layer of waterproof cement and finished with a coat of stucco, Coffman said. The stucco gives the dinosaurs a natural-looking greenish tint. The biggest of Coffman's dinosaurs lies on its side at the front of his property on Ocotillo Road near Cahuilla Road in northeast Apple Valley. It is 105 feet long a size he calculated by proportion after reading a newspaper article about the discovery of dinosaur shoulder blades eight feet long. ' The dinosaurs lying on the ground are built by a method different from the one used for the standing figures he said. Coffman first thoroughly waters the ground. Then he marks an outline of the dinosaur with stakes and uses a tractor to. scrape dirt into the outline. Finer details are hand-shoveled and smoothed into the outline. Coffman lets the dirt figure settle for a week, watering it every day and tamping it down. The solid base form is then covered with concrete half an inch thick. In the middle of the original golf course, a triceratops equipped with a shielded head and three horns stands ready to defend itself. Lying on its side, is a stegosaurus with a row of blade-like spines on its back. One of Coffman's current projects is a standing stegosaurus he is forming in his workroom. In an imaginary swamp, three brachiosauri, with long arching necks and topknots on their heads, are submerged to their haunches. A 33-foot-long sea serpent stands in a dry pond, and in a less-placid scene, bright red blood stains the ground where a predatory allosaurus has killed a duckbill dinosaur, A 57-foot-long brontosaurus stands : " - lllll - Sr : v7 , landscape 975 THE SUN-TELEGRAM B-3 near a 67-foot-long diplodocus behind the row of apartments which serves as Coffman's house. The diplodocus has a longer neck and tail and a thinner body than the brontosaurus. Coffman has also built two "giants" in human form which are twice the height of an average person. Coffman's dinosaurs aren't the only works of art he has done near his property. As you approach the group of buildings near Dinosaur Swampland in the sparsely populated area, you can see in front of the houses, large sections of ground covered with concrete painted forest green, white and red and filled with quartz and broken colored glass. ; In front of Coffman's apartments, small yellow dinosaur silhouettes are painted on a maroon sidewatk. There is also concrete painted grfcen with planter holes showing off chol-la, prickly pear cactus, angel wing cactus, pampas grass and palm trees. Scattered around the lavender-painted apartment houseware remnants of unfinished projects; equipment, tools and materials. '. A skimpy wire fence surrounds the land of the "thunder lizards" and a no- trespassing sign reminds that Coffman's creation isn't public .. . yet. He has welcomed visits from elementary schools classes. But for now, Dinosaur Swampland is open to public eyes but not public feet Coffman said that's because he doesn't have the permits he would need to open the place "Someday, if people want it, I can find a way to open it Right now is not the right time to open." But, he added with a touch, of pride," People are welcome to look at it from the road." '. Who said dinosaurs are extinct? 7. .:. y,:r -! - j!''S' ' ' n.,Ld-l.
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