T. rex
Gideon the T. rex at SMART Centre Market

Centre Wheeling’s Dinosaur Named After Scientist

Wheeling, meet Gideon — the T. rex that can be seen bursting through the second-floor window at the SMART Centre Market.

“The name ‘Gideon’ won by a nose,” said Robert E. Strong who, along with his wife Libby, owns the SMART Centre Market.

Forty-eight classes from 22 elementary schools participated in a contest by submitting a suggested name accompanied by a 50-word or less explanation.

Julie Loy’s fourth-grade class at Ritchie Elementary School came up with the winning moniker, naming the dino after Gideon Mantell — the first to discover dinosaur fossils. This discovery of an iguanodon tooth was made in 1822 when Gideon and his wife, Mary Ann, found the then-unidentified tooth in England, the Strongs explained.

Funding for the T. rex came from Wheeling Heritage’s Show of Hands last fall. The Strongs received the most votes at the crowd-funding event, winning $5,257, which paid for the dinosaur’s creation and installation. READ: Couple Makes Strong Case for Dinosaur Project, Wins By a Head at Show of Hands

Every T. rex should have a nickname, Libby and Robert noted, so the T. rex will be known as Gideon AKA T-bone.

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“T-bone was a close second in the votes for the T. rex name. The third- and fourth-grade classes at Martin’s Ferry Christian school and teacher, Darla Hennen, simply said, ‘Who doesn’t love a good T-bone?’” Robert said.

Each teacher of the winning class will receive a $100 gift certificate to SMART Centre Market, and the school will be eligible for a school-wide program by the SMART-Center.

Wheeling Heritage staff members, Centre Market merchants and others helped to choose the winning name and nickname.

Libby Strong stands in front of SMART Centre Market.

Gideon has gotten much attention since he burst through the window, Libby noted.

“Everyone who has come in has either mentioned Gideon AKA T-bone. … We have been giving a mini T. rex to young scientists who have seen the T. rex. … We have had quite a few folks in who have never been in to visit,” Libby said.

“Today’s pre-K field trip from Woodsdale Elementary did a dinosaurs and sharks program where the T. rex was featured. We stood arm to arm outside and under the T. rex with the 16 children to approximate the length of Gideon, tip to tail,” she added.

The dinosaur was installed in January. READ: ‘Prehistory Meets History’ in Wheeling’s Centre Market.