For Lyle Jameson, it was a Jurassic undertaking.
The 27-foot brachiosaurus statue had been stationed alongside Interstate 35 for more than two decades, serving as a roadside attraction and attention-getter for Statuary World.
The business has since closed, but the dinosaur – nicknamed Big Jim – remained, and was part of an auction of remaining property in June.
Now, it’s back in Canadian County, not far from where it was originally built in 1996.
“I looked at it several times, and at first I thought, ‘OK, if there’s a chance, we would like that,’” said Jameson, who owns Jameson’s Discount Home Improvement at 12451 NW 10 St. in Yukon.
Jameson said he realized that moving a fiberglass statue that weighs about 15,000 pounds and measures 65 feet from nose to tail would be a logistical nightmare.
But he had to have that dinosaur.
“I thought, ‘Well, it’s been done before,’” he said. “And if it’s been done before, then we can do it.”
Big Jim was in pretty good shape, despite having been exposed to the elements – including, on one occasion, a tornado that flung him across I-35 – for 24 years.
One hole in his back leg needed to be patched before moving him, Jameson said, and some of his toes needed to be rebuilt, but he was otherwise ready to go.
The dinosaur had to be temporarily decapitated to make the move, Jameson said, but once he was in place at Jameson’s Discount Home Improvement on July 17, his neck was reattached, his toes were fixed, and he was re-glassed.
“It was a concern of ours that the neck wouldn’t go back just right, but it’s perfect,” Jameson said. “We’re really happy.
According to Jameson, the dinosaur’s history is rooted in Canadian County.
In 1996, Sam Emmert, owner of Statuary World at 3306 W. Reno, was in the market for an attention-grabbing feature for his new location along I-35. An employee brought in their child’s toy brachiosaurus.
“He said, ‘Sam, we’re gonna blow this up,’” Jameson said.
Emmert, Jameson said, asked the employee to first build the foot, and was pleased enough with the result that he commissioned the rest of Big Jim.
The dinosaur was built at the Reno location and installed along I-35 in 1996.
For as long as Jameson’s Discount Home Improvement is in business, Jameson said, Big Jim is there to stay.
He plans to paint the dinosaur a shade of ocean blue.
“We love that it has good I-40 visibility,” he said, adding that he wants to light up the dinosaur in connection with the city’s Festival of Lights activities.
“If people are coming to town to see the Festival of Lights, they’re going to see the dinosaur,” Jameson said.
And Big Jim is already attracting attention.
On July 18, a line of cars was waiting to see and take pictures with Yukon’s biggest new resident.
“There was one kid who was dressed up in a dinosaur costume,” Jameson said, laughing.
Jameson said he had the chance to meet Emmert, who still lives in the Yukon area.
“I like the idea that Sam is here, and it was constructed here in Canadian County, and that it’s back here,” he said. “I just scooped in and bought a landmark attraction – I think they (Emmert and the statue’s designer) deserve the credit. I just brought the dinosaur to Yukon.”