The Land of the Lost Backroad, Bob Doris Sculpture

June 1st, 2009

The Country Doctor and I are backroad travellers, much preferring tiny towns and forgotten farmsteads to the monotony of the major routes.





On a recent trip to visit the CD’s sister in southeast Kansas, we took a backroad and happened across the fantastic sculpture of Bob Dorris.  We slowed down as we passed his house the first time, and I snapped a few photos from the road, but no one was around to ask if we could get a little closer to the dinosaurs.


on the way back home….

We saw two people sitting on the front porch.

I frantically tugged at the CD’s shirt sleeve and said, “We have to stop! We have to talk to them! We have to see if they mind if I take some photos!”

“Okay.” he said as he pulled into their drive, stopped the car and then looked at me expectantly.

“No. Not me!” I stammered. “I am no good at talking to people! You go talk to them!” I hissed. “You’re the one that likes to ask all the questions!”

The Country Doctor sighed deeply and got out of our van.  He approached the two people who were so peacefully settled in on their porch in the cool of a beautiful spring evening and he broke their bubble of serenity.

“Hi… we were just driving by and noticed the dinosaurs and wondered if we could look around?” the CD asked.

The lady on the porch looked up from her book and quietly welcomed our family to explore her yard. She is the widow of the sculptor, Bob Dorris, who passed away two years ago. She watched us head off into her yard and then she went back to her book.

Here is a woman after my own heart I thought.

Bob Dorris, the sculptor of these paleolithic roadside wonders began to make these life sized recreations after he retired from his job as an Air Force engineer.

He used a lot of salvaged parts, but he also formed many of the parts himself.

He was not afraid to work on a very grand scale, his largest sculpture being 300 feet long.

My family walked amongst the dinosaurs marvelling at what Bob had wrought.

I did manage to ask his widow if Bob ever did any commercial work.

“No” she said, “he just built them for his own pleasure.”

I thought about the hours and hours that Bob spent on his wonderful work. The time and the money he must have invested. The pleasure that so many people derive from a drive past his farm or a walk across his yard.

And then I thought about the places that a passion for something… anything can take you.

And the places that it takes the people who enjoy the results.
Passion and inspiration… these two things…

Perpetual gifts…

They never stop bearing fruit.

It really pays to take a backroad once in a while.

There could be treasure that awaits.


  • And I thought I was cursed having car carcasses all over the property. I’m not sure how I’d feel about eternal dinosaurs staring me down every day.

    But really, what a legacy. All I’m leaving behind are kids and pots.

    P.S. Your boys are adorable. Even the frowning one. I love boys. I have five myself. I bet they wanted to take every one of those man-eaters home.

  • I wanted to take one home too. Very badly

  • Curly:

    Those dinosaurs are incredible. I also have a penchant for exploring the back roads of wherever I am. I have made some awesome discoveries. The people in a hurry miss so much.

  • Bob must have had a soul mate here in Alabama…. in the next county over, on a back road, there is a house with similar sculptures roaming the front yard. Next time I’m over that way, I’ll have to get some photos to share. Thanks for showing us these marvels of Bob’s imagination.

  • Wow~I’m very impressed and it looks like your boys were also. Yeah, too bad you couldn’t bring one home!! :)

  • Those are incredible- back roads really ARE worth it!

  • dorabee:

    I have an uncle that lives in rural SE Kansas. He also makes sculptures from salvage parts. I have never seen them, but from what I hear his sculptures are “totem poles” and quite the attraction!! It is quite amazing what people can do with time and salvage parts on their hands.

  • that is the most wonderful legacy i’ve ever seen

  • Awesome!! You captured and shared his amazing talent with such beauty. Thanks for sharing. I can’t wait to show my kids and husband these pics. We are also fans of the backroads.

  • E-Jayjo:

    Those sculptures are really amazing!

  • I love backroad adventures! Having grown up in farm country in Illinois, there are lots of great things to be found on those back country highways. My mom always laughed that I knew the most obscure ways to get anywhere. : )

    Those dino’s are pretty awesome! I’m sure my boy would love to have a few.

  • Fran:

    This is so cool! It makes me want to hop in my car right away and take off into the hills. Down the road from where I work, some people have a UFO in their art with a silver alien standing right next to it. Well, sometimes, he’s laying on top of it – maybe when they mow the grass!

  • Those are fantastic. You need to take the kids on a field trip to Baraboo, Wisconsin to see Futuretron. Look it up on the Roadside America site. You’re guaranteed to love it.

    - Suzanne, the Farmer’s Wife

  • becky up the hill:

    yea for back roads! I like that old church pew on their front porch too!

  • It looks so wonderful! And I love the face your boy is making in the back in that last photo :)

  • Not something I’d want in my front yard but real works of art and love! I can see why your boys would love them. BTW your oldest son looks a lot like you in the one picture.! Thanks for sharing. My Mom was born in Independence (near Coffeyville).
    Hope you had a great trip.

  • Who knew! I grew up not very far from where those are at (Oswego), and I never even heard of them till now. Mind you, my parents were reclusive… but even so…

  • Wendy:

    Wow! Those are amazing…

  • Beautiful. We have a couple treasures similar to this one in our area….sometimes we take them for granted….but we’ll stop and smell the flowers and touch the dino’s next time. Thanks for sharing this great story!

    (Love the pictures of the kids~someone doesn’t look to happy, however! Is there a story there?)

  • Cool! I wish I could have been there.

    There’s a man near El Dorado who is a former English teacher, and he sculpts literary scenes. I’ll see if I can find the info. to send to you.

  • marcia:

    i know exactly where you were, about a mile from where my family lives and has since 1860-70′s homestead days.
    Before dinosaurs Robert had beautiful big chunks of slag glass; they said he made it.

    here’s a link for his dino park

  • I am amazed at how many people across Kansas do this sort of thing. There’s the guy out east of Augusta right on 54. I don’t think he uses salvaged parts, though. There’s Hubble’s Rubble in Howard, a series of sculptures made from farm equipment along Hwy 18 in Lincoln County, Ernie Poe from Sharon Springs who makes sculptures out of barbed wire, M.T. Liggett’s political sculptures outside of Mullinville, and a place just up the road from me in Rose Hill, not to mention all the many, many yards I saw while doing census work that had smaller sculptures made from old shovels and smaller farm equipment. Tom Otterness is a native of Wichita. When people think of Kansas, I think they typically think of farmland rather than the arts. They don’t realize how many creative and talented Kansans there are.

    I see Marcia has already left the link for Roadside America. It’s a great site! The Kansas Sampler Foundation also has lots of wonderful information on things to see and do in Kansas.

  • Flippin’ talented!

  • Don’t you just love Kansas?!
    I’m here too.

    My husband, however, would NEVER pull over and let me talk to those people. Ugh. He just doesn’t understand the value of a great blog post.

  • joann tx:

    oh thank you!!

    i so much enjoyed this post and looking at all those pictures! are in nature’s back yard! a place where anyone can see no matter what the weather might be. i thought this so interesting. and its free! something those in the area can enjoy at any time!

    thanks for the neat dino pictures!!!

    joann in TX

  • Passion, inspiration and dinosaurs. I LOVE it!

  • I love those sculptures and would have stopped too, especially if there were people outside. My kids would have been in heaven! Yea, for backroads, they’re my favorite way to travel! PS thanks for putting me on your blogroll!

  • Is that your oldest SMILING?! OH MY!

  • Val:

    I live on a back road myself, but have nothing like that on it. Those are amazing sculptures. He was a talented man.

  • Jill:

    This was the coolest post. I am in awe of his creativity. Thanks, Rechelle.