Archive for February 25th, 2010

Death of a dinosaur

by Treloar Bower, Curator of Education

Damaged dinosaur sculpture (photo from the Coloradoan)

Such a bummer of a headline in the Coloradoan this morning: the Swetsville metal dinosaur sculpture that has stood watch over cars traveling I-25 for 20 years was crushed in an accident overnight.

My daughter and I pass the dino daily on our way into Fort Collins, her for school and me for work. My daughter is three, so the conversation as we pass the sculpture generally goes as follows:

“Look Mommy! I see a dinosaur!”

“Wow! That’s so cool! What does a dinosaur say?”

“Roar! Roar!” (said with clawing hand motions).

I imagine this same conversation repeated over and over in any number of cars by any number of kids and parents. This simple moment will not be repeated again. One of the Swets family members was quoted in the paper saying that the dinosaur can’t be repaired.

That makes me sad.

The other part of me is mad. The Swets have maintained the Swetsville Zoo on their property for decades. Open to the public for FREE, it’s a wonderland of fantasy and whimsy created from iron scraps. Bill Swets, the creator, was a farmer with imaginative eyes and able hands, an artist whose medium was metal.

One of his creations, “Tiny,” had a home in Old Town Fort Collins before it became a much-loved fixture at the old Discovery Science Center on Prospect. When Discovery Science Center moved to the Fort Collins Museum building in the summer of 2009, Tiny returned home to the Swetsville Zoo. In recent years, some other sculptures have been moved and remaining parts of the zoo consolidated to make way for improvements to Harmony Road. Now comes this additional loss.

Reportedly, the Swets family will be selling the farm at some point in the future. We will be losing this unique part of the artistic landscape of Fort Collins. We’ve already lost pieces of it to progress and reckless driving (the driver admitted to speeding). Happily, the town of Timnath has purchased some of the sculptures for their park areas but they can’t preserve the zoo as in its entirety as it is now.

It’s a reminder to our community to appreciate what we have now – before, like “Dino,” it becomes just a memory.

February 2010

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