category: Ghost Towns

The Boulder City Pet Cemetery

Last year on a trip to Las Vegas, I was on the lookout for off-the-beaten path places to visit. Of course, I had to hit up Redd Foxx’s old house, but even more fun and further off the path was the Boulder City Pet Cemetery, which got a brief mention in Weird Las Vegas and Nevada. There was surprisingly little online about it, especially about its specific whereabouts. I was able to find a blurry map and enough of a textual description to get to the general area. Given that it’s in the middle of the desert right off of route 95, you might figure it’s obvious and easy to see, but it’s amazingly well obscured considering it’s only a hundred feet off the highway. It’s not something you see when driving by, even if you’re looking for it.

It’s rumored that people started burying their pets in this surprisingly expansive area as early as the 1930s. Over the following decades, dozens–if not hundreds–of families came to build memorials to their dogs and cats. Some are very simple crosses with a name written in pen while others are more complex, involving fences, decorations, and professionally chiseled headstones. The cemetery is on what was originally federal land (and now owned by Boulder City) and it was never legal to bury any remains there, yet folks did anyway. And the remains are undisturbed to this day.

This site (which refers to the “El Dorado Pet Cemetery,” but it’s the same place; I’ve also seen it referred to as the “Searchlight Road Pet Cemetery”) offers up an explanation from Brok Armantrout, Director of Community Development for Boulder City:

The pet cemetery was an unsanctioned use of federal land from the very beginning (1931). At one time, friends of the cemetery tried to work out a deal with the federal government to legitimize the site, went as far as getting congressional assistance, but for one reason or another, the project stalled and died. If you have three hours of free time, the history of the effort can be found at the BLM field office on the far northwest side of the LV Valley.

When the City purchased the Eldorado Valley in 1995, roughly 85,000 acres were designated as Desert Tortoise Habitat through a formal easement designation that was adopted by ordinance. The ordinance prohibits all sorts of activities, one of which is the internment of remains.

It’s unclear why citizens started burying their animals in the desert (I don’t believe for a second the idea laid out in this piece that offers the unlikely possibility it’s a mafia dumping ground). I suspect it grew out of a simple need: folks needed to bury their pets, had no where to do it, and wanted to find a location that would remain undisturbed.

While there is an element of eeriness about this rogue pet cemetery (I swear I heard the sound of a leash jingling), I found myself moved by the tributes to clearly beloved family members. If it hadn’t been 150 degrees outside, I suspect I could have stayed there all day.

Here’s a video I shot in an attempt to show the expanse of the cemetery. Excuse the annoying lens dust.

And some photos:

The cemetery has still-readable graves dating back to the mid-1960s and technically shouldn’t be there, but the (first federal and now local) government has wisely left it alone.

The cemetery is still in use today and had a grave that was only a few months old.

There were some heartfelt tributes, like this one to “Mr. Kitty.”

Magic’s was amongst the more elaborate, complete with a fence, dog house, and a sitting bench.

Friskey’s grave was adorned with dozens of stuffed animals.

Jazz’s name seemed to be written out in dried poop… but that can’t be, right?

No caption needed.

Here’s the full slideshow of all the photos I took at the cemetery.

The Center

There’s a mid-sized city being built in New Mexico with a population of zero. Yet, there will be traffic lights, energy, and other things you might expect in a town with inhabitants. Except there won’t be any. Sounds like a Twilight Zone episode, but it’s not.

The Center will resemble a mid-sized American city, including urban canyons, suburban neighborhoods, rural communities and distant localities. It will offer the only of its kind opportunity to replicate the real-world challenges of upgrading existing city infrastructure to that of a 21st Century smart city, operating within a green economy.

“The idea for The Center was born out of our own company’s challenges in trying to test new and emerging technologies beyond the confines of a sterile lab environment,” Robert H. Brumley, Pegasus Global’s CEO said. “As entrepreneurs, we saw a global need and stepped up to address it. The Center will allow private companies, not for profits, educational institutions and government agencies to test in a unique facility with real world infrastructure, allowing them to better understand the cost and potential limitations of new technologies prior to introduction.”

Construction of The Center’s test facilities and supporting infrastructure may require as much as 20 square miles of open, unimproved land. It will be designed to represent the current mix of old and new infrastructure found in most modern U.S. cities.

The Center will provide the opportunity for “end-to-end” testing, evaluation and demonstration of new intelligent and green technologies and innovations emerging from the world’s public laboratories, universities, and the private sector with the goal of determining the direct and indirect benefits and costs the innovations tested would have on our existing infrastructure.

For example, this controlled environment would permit evaluation of the positive and negative impacts of smart grid applications and integration of renewable energies for residential, commercial and industrial sectors of the economy. Additional testing opportunities would include technologies emerging in intelligent traffic systems, next-generation wireless networks, smart grid cyber security and terrorism vulnerability.

Is it weird that I’d like to take a vacation there?

(via Engadget)