On a turn of State Road 476 between Lake Lindsey and Nobleton a headless dinosaur stands on the side of the road. It has become a landmark and merchandise for the area bears its likeness. The dinosaur is extremely realistic, the cement has been textured to resemble a leathery skin. On a foggy day you could imagine you are seeing a real live Brontosaurus as they existed 150 million years ago.
The dinosaur was never finished, because it’s creator, August F. Herwede fell off the scaffolding while working on the neck of the dinosaur and broke his legs. He died a few months after the fall on February 20, 1967. This means the that dinosaur was created in 1966 and possibly early 1967, so it is 50 years old.
The Headless Dinosaur is showing signs of age. It was built out of cement over a wire mesh. It has thicker metal underpinning and wooden supports, but the dinosaur was not sealed and has not had significant maintenance since it was created. A portion of the tail that stuck through a wooden fence has broken off. There are holes in the cement that exposes the wire mesh underneath. The wooden supports are showing signs of weathering.
August lived in a little white house a little to the west of the dinosaur. According to the property appraiser the dinosaur sits on land that is owned by the Cathryn Chapman. She was interviewed by the Ocala Star Banner in a June 26, 2011 article on roadside attractions. She said she was not aware of the headless dinosaur ever having had a name. Some neighbors interviewed in the article report the headless dinosaur caused accidents as distracted drivers paid attention to the dinosaur and not the curve in the road.
August was inspired to build the dinosaurs by the 1964 World’s Fair held in New York which featured a dinosaur exhibit named “Dinoland.” This same exhibit inspired a number of other dinosaurs that were built during the 1960s in the area. Dinoland was sponsored by Sinclair Oil and featured 9 full sized dinosaurs including the company’s trademark brontosaurus. Sinclair Oil also built a service station on US 19 in the shape of a brontosaurus in 1964 which is now Harold's Auto Center.
In addition to the headless dinosaur August created many other animals including an elephant, wooly mammoth, a pair of lions, fighting dinosaurs and was working on his biggest creation a brontosaurus. In two years he built more than 30 animals around the house.
He would have liked to have started creating his animals earlier, but apparently there were complications. August’s daughter-in-law told the St. Petersburg Times that August once expressed, “I wanted to build an elephant but Mama wouldn’t let me.” So when his wife died, August unleashed his pent up desires to sculpt animals.
After August’s passing, his collection of animals were sold off and scattered about to attractions, parks, and even a golf course. If you know what became of one of August's animals please contact us at 352-238-5454 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We are working on an article where the remaining August F. Herwede creations are located.