South Broadway & California
South St. Louis, MO
One of the most delightful sights in South St. Louis is the pristine green Sinclair dinosaur on South Broadway near Interstate 55. Or it was…
…until May 5, 2010. I drove by on that evening and its absence was glaringly obvious. Where did he go?
His disappearance was bothering me more than I felt comfortable with, so I drove to the station two nights later to get some answers.
A hastily erected canvas Conoco over the Sinclair sign revealed all. But I went inside, bought anything to stand in line and ask the guys behind the counter, “What happened to the dinosaur?”
They said some men came on the very day I noticed it gone, picked it up and carted it off on a flatbed truck, and that they were collecting all the dinosaurs because Conoco had bought out all St. Louis Sinclair stations. Did they ask where the dinosaur was headed to? Their responses were “Probably someone’s back yard” and “I heard one guy say something about an amusement park.”
A half hour of web research did not reveal any news about Conoco buying out Sinclair, but since the dinosaurs have been going extinct for quite some time, at least one site has been cataloging what remains and helping out those who want to buy or sell the green dinosaurs with the sardonic smile.
The Sinclair station (above) at Big Bend near Hwy 44 closed in the summer of 2007. Its dinosaur disappeared a few days before the “Sorry, We’re Closed” sign hit the door. The building has since been re-purposed as a scooter and ATV retail outlet.
The reason for this Sinclair’s demise seemed obvious; QT is the Walmart of gas stations. But Sinclair has been dwindling in the Metro St. Louis area for the past 10 years, and I’ve been snapping the empty buildings across the region for several years. Because of the gas tanks underground, the sites tend to sit unused in perpetuity. Only mega-corporations like CVS have the cash to sniff around their vacant sites.
So, the few remaining Sinclairs in operation have a deep, nostalgic resonance in my soul, and when one so close to home still had a dinosaur, it was a point of privilege and pride.
Saint Louis Patina may have the last official photograph of our South Side dino. And I will call the Conoco media relations during normal business hours to see if they have an official process for retrieving and re-using the dinosaurs. I can already feel their eyes rolling as I ask the question. I’m also picturing a Citizen Kane-like warehouse filled with hundreds of dinosaurs, their necks intertwined, a fine coat of dust dulling their luster…
In the scheme of things, the extinction of the Sinclair dinosaur in St. Louis is a pimple on the ass of the universe. But it’s the little things that tend to bring the most satisfaction, and I already miss that little jolt of happiness received every time I passed by Dino. Farewell my prehistoric fossil fuel friend!