Standish Forde Hansell was a pleasant man with a playful imagination. He was known for his many "eccentric" ideas around town.
When he decided to build a pond on his family's farm, he had the idea to drive an old fire truck out into the field where he wanted the pond and "dig the pond around it". When asked why, he replied "So people will always wonder how I got it out on the island !"
Well, Mr. Hansell did dig the lake on his property, right next to the Poquessing Creek. Then he built a lock between the creek and his pond, so he could fill or drain his lake as needed.
As planned, he left an island in the middle of the lake, but, while the fire truck idea never worked out, he came up with another idea, just as unique.
Mr. Hansell placed two 8-foot tall dinosaurs out on the island, facing each other. And, then, around a tree, he wrapped a snake.
The dinosaurs and snake were made of cement. They were first shaped from wire mesh and then covered in the cement.
The lake isn't big; roughly a city block in size and 4-5 feet deep. It is more on the scale of a large pond. The island is roughly 50 by 100 feet.
The small size of the island made the size of the dinosaurs that much more impressive.
It is said that Mr. Wanamaker, of department store fame, used to bring some of the underpriveledged children from Philadelphia to the lake, for an afternoon of sun and swimming.
When I first came across Dinosaur Lake in the early 70's, it was already well overgrown and deserted. This was during a dry spell, so I could walk across the lakebed to the island. The remains of the dinosaurs were still there; the head of one still standing tall, while the bodies of both were ravaged.
Frank Hagen remembers - " I used to hang out at the lake in the early 70's. I would ride my huffy dirt bike, with a few of my friends, to the lake almost every day. When I first started going there the dinosaurs still had their heads. Back then you could walk to the island most of the time, because the water level was low and you could walk on the rocks. I can remember climbing to the top and sliding down the backs of the dinosaurs. My mom used to get mad because I either ripped or wore holes in alot of my clothes."
P. Sciscione comments - "I grew up at Doral apartments (off Knights rd) and played at the lake in the 70's. I never knew how the dinosaur statues got there. I caught snakes, built make shift rafts and even camped out there several times."
Entrance to Dinosaur Lake used to be from a dirt road that came off of Hulmeville Rd., at it's intersection with Cornwells Ave. in Cornwells Heights. Two 4-foot high brick pillars used to mark the entrance.
The dirt road ran straight back to the Poquessing Creek and ran alongside it until it came to the lake. The road and the fields it ran through have now been turned into the Village Green neighborhood.
Mr. Hansell's family farm is now the Bensalem Country Club, and the lake is still there, on the property.
Now, the only place where you can hope to catch a glimpse of the dried up lakebed that was once Dinosaur Lake is from the back of the Franklin Mills Mall parking lot. Go behind what was once the movie theater building and look over the guard rail, into the woods. If you look hard enough, you might see it between the trees.
It is unknown if the dinosaurs still stand on the island.
Feb., 2000 -
|Dinosaur Lake and Island||Island||Same Picture with Dinosaur Ruins Outlined|
Two Legs Standing and One Fallen
|Another View of the Island||Same Picture with Dinosaur Ruins Outlined
Two Legs Standing and One Fallen
|Dinosaur Lake and Island||Lake and Island|