If you’ve read Weird NJ issue #57 (Fall 2021)
then you are familiar with the story of the dinosaurs hidden in the woods of Allaire State Park. The sculptures were brilliantly crafted from found objects from the forest floor by artist Robin Ruggiero. Unfortunately, this week the giant, fragile sculptures were destroyed by unknown vandals.
Constructed from branches, bark, and animal bones, and suspended from trees with twine, the sculptures have been cut down and now lay in piles on the ground.
The site had became a popular destination for hikers and families to visit over that past year, for those who were actually able to locate the unmarked display, which included life-sized skeletal representation of Stegosaurus, with large bony plates running along its spine, and a tyrannosaurus locked in mortal combat with a triceratops. There was a giant Pterodactyl nest and even a Brontosaurus!
When we interviewed Robin, the artist, she told Weird NJ that she had been creating the sculptures alone in the forest as a type of therapy, and she’d spent countless days working on her Mesozoic menagerie. She said that a couple of years
back, when she was getting herself out of an abusive relationship, she was feeling like a misfit and just wanted to be alone. Without much money and nowhere to go, she sought the solitude of the woods, somewhere nobody would find her.
Then one day she saw something and thought, “that looks like a dinosaur tail,” and that’s when she began to build. Each day after work she’d go to the woods and stay until well after dark, gathering materials to make into teeth, eyes, scales and horns.
Unlike most artists, who create work for people to see, Robin’s sculptures were never intended be found, they weren’t even meant to last. They’re held together with biodegrades twine. But they stayed strong, and Robin too began to feel her own strength and self-esteem returning.
The dinosaurs were held upright by twine tied to high tree branches. Sometimes on a windy day when the trees would sway, they seemed to move and breathe, like giant marionettes.
The people of New Jersey truly enjoyed and appreciated Robin’s Cretaceous creations…well, most of them, anyway. Here are some photos from issue #57, along with some unpublished bonus photos so that you can see just what we have all lost.
The preceding article is an excerpt from Weird NJ magazine, “Your Travel Guide to New Jersey’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets,” which is available on newsstands throughout the state and on the web at www.WeirdNJ.com. All contents ©Weird NJ and may not be reproduced by any means without permission.
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