Dixie is a fifty-foot tall brachiosaur quite prominent from I-680. If you get off the highway, you can drive right up to her, but there's a fence around her, topped with scary barbed wire. The sign nearby said the fence was to prevent vandalism, as Dixie had cost $150,000 to build and set up. It just seemed odd, like she was in a pen or a zoo. However, she could have easily crushed over the fence, so the wire seemed designed not to keep the zoo animal in, but to keep the visitors out.

I liked Dixie a lot, she was a highlight of a road trip for us, but something about her made me feel... not like a child, giddy and excited that dinosaurs had been resurrected... but queasy. Perhaps it was the fact that she's owned by a company that sells cigarettes. The fact that so many children love her immediately conjurs to mind thoughts of Joe Camel. Is Dixie any better just because she's a dinosaur? And didn't Gary Larson show that smoking killed the big fellows?

This, from a sign nearby:

"Dixie is a life-size Brachiosaurus. She is 71 feet long from the tip of her tail to the end of her snout. She stands 50 feet tall. The Brachiosaurus lived in North America and East Africa. They were abundant during the Jurassic period, 130,000 to 180,000,000 years ago. Dixie's predecessors lived in water and ate plants.

"Dixie was built by William Kreysler & Associated in Petaluna, California. The statue is made of a steel structure covered by a fiberglass skin. It weighs 15,000 pounds, not including the concrete piers which anchor the statue to the wildflowers. The statue is protected by a fence because it cost over $150,000 to construct and install.

"The dinosaur was flown by a Sikorsky S-64 Sky Crane helicopter to Dixon, California on October 9, 1994. The statue was installed without an official permit, so there was a brief uproar. There's something about a life-sized Brachiosaurus which gives pause to bureaucrats. Fortunately, Dixie was beloved by children who passed her on I-80. Thanks to the rapid response of a few local heroes, the bureaucrats backed down and allowed Dixie to stay. When the location was sold, Dixie's owners announced plans to move the statue to Benicia. There were tears in Dixon when Dixie flew here on July 18, 1996.

"Although Dixie still lacks a Dinosaur building permit, the statue was welcomed to Benicia by a unanimous vote of the Benicia City Council. If you enjoy this statue, consider putting up art in your own yard.

"Dixie is owned by Cigarettes Cheaper!, a national chain of retail cigarette stores where adults can save money and be treated with dignity and respect."

Detailed Image of Construction of Dixie (BIG image)

Site visited August, 1998. No fee. Directions: Northbound: On I-680 north, go across the Martinez-Benicia Toll Bridge, and take the first exit (Bayshore). At the bottom of the exit ramp, take a left at the stop sign and go under the highway. You'll come to a stop sign, and take a right onto Park Rd. Keep going through a stop sign (but stop first), up an incline, and past the railroad tracks. You can't miss it. Info: (707) 745-6691.

Rumor has it that a groundswell is building to rename Dixie "Bennie" since she's not in Dixon anymore but Benicia.  But the name "Dixie" seemed too ingrained, and I think it's stuck.

Jan Yarnot has an excellent page that shows pictures of Dixie/Bennie being airlifted! Click here.

Also, Cheaper has a really excellent store overrun by little green Martians in Lathrop, Ca., and a store where it's raining cats and dogs in Sacramento (which I haven't visited yet, but it's on my list).

For more big dinosaurs, check out Claude Bell's dinos of Cabazon, California.

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