Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
There’s A Theme Park About That Time The Union Tried To Use Dinosaurs To Win The Civil War
After a long weekend day drinking, floundering in swimming holes, and inner tubing in rivers — in between visiting the sights from which the city of Natural Bridge, Virginia takes it name — I decided to make a pit stop at Dinosaur Kingdom II in late August to learn about that one time the Union Army tried to harness dino-power to win the Civil War.
The premise of Dinosaur Kingdom II is what you might get if Jurassic Park was a two-hour Nickelodeon special drawn in the style of Ren & Stimpy and set during the Civil War. Designed by Mark Cline, a local artist and celebrity who also runs Lexington’s Ghost Tour, the alt-history parody park is remarkably affordable, uncrowded this late in the summer, and an utterly rewarding mindfuck:
For the low, low price of $10 for adults (and $6 for kids), entering the park means stumbling back in time to an alternate 1864 when, according to the tourist destination’s website, “them wacky Yankees is at it again! Tryin’ to use living dinosaurs as weapons of mass destruction against the South. But ole Dixie has more than a few tricks still left up her sleeve.”
As you make your way through the park, there’s a Ken Burns'esque documentary playing in a ramshackle theater, and in it Cline describes the Union’s failed attempt to reawaken a menagerie of dinosaurs they discovered frozen in a cavern. The plan? To use the prehistoric reptiles as beasts of burden, and, unsurprisingly, as devastating tools of war. Those dastardly Yankees!
"The Yankee troops wanted to use these dinosaurs as weapons of mass destruction against the South. It kind of backfired on them," Cline told VICE News in July. "And this is the story that was left out of most of the history books. So I'm trying to bring the story to light to make sure that history is told the way it's supposed to be."
And one of the ways history is supposed to be told, according to Cline, involves Stonewall Jackson tricked-out with a steampunk bionic arm doing battle with some misbegotten hell-beast in a graveyard.
The park also includes pterodactyl named Squak who was sent to steal a draft of the Gettysburg Address from a flummoxed Abe Lincoln. The latter is not just a real exhibit in Dinosaur Kingdom II — it’s also a scene from a comic based on the theme park, written and illustrated by Cline. The comic even includes a detailed breakdown of how Stonewall Jackson’s mechanical arm works. (Spoiler: There’s a crew of miniaturized Confederate soldiers inside. I’m completely serious.)
Okay, so Dinosaur Kingdom II may not be entirely accurate, but who cares? It has dinos squaring off against Union troops armed with muskets; bizarre slime creatures; a cowboy corralling a herd of brontosauruses; and informational panels at each exhibit with, well, let’s call them alternative history facts. If nothing else, it’s a fun way to spend an afternoon, especially if you begin the morning with the hair of the dog.
Search efforts are underway to find a West Point cadet, who has gone missing along with his M4 carbine, the U.S. Military Academy announced on Sunday.
"There is no indication the Cadet poses a threat to the public, but he may be a danger to himself," a West Point news release says.
Academy officials do not believe the missing cadet has access to any magazines or ammunition, according to the news release, which did not identify the cadet, who is a member of the Class of 2021.
Three soldiers were killed and another three injured when their Bradley Fighting Vehicle rolled over during a training exercise at Fort Stewart in Georgia on Sunday morning, Army officials announced.
KABUL (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper arrived in Afghanistan on Sunday in a bid to bring talks with the Taliban back on track after President Donald Trump abruptly broke off negotiations last month seeking to end the United States' longest war.
Esper's trip to Kabul comes amid questions about the United States' commitments to allies after a sudden withdrawal of U.S. troops from northeastern Syria and Trump's long-time desire to get out of foreign engagements.
Mark Esper is the third person after James Mattis and Patrick Shanahan to helm the Pentagon since Donald Trump became president, and he's apparently not making much of an impression on the commander-and-chief.
On Sunday, Trump sent a very real tweet on "Secretary Esperanto," which is either a reference to a constructed international language developed more than 130 years ago and only spoken on the PA system in Gattaca or an egregious instance of autocorrect.
This rifle could be a dark horse candidate for the Army's next-generation squad weapon — and you can snag one next year
The Army says it's settled on three defense contractors to battle it out to become the service's M4 carbine and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon replacements, but at least one other company is hoping that a bit of consumer approval could help upset the competition.