If you drive between Las Vegas and Searchlight Nevada, out towards Boulder City, you have passed it and never knew it was there. In fact, many people living around here don’t know its there. Yet it’s so close to the highway that if you look closely, you may see the signs of its existence. A pet cemetery. Maybe not a “secret” pet cemetery. It is an illegal one since people are still burying their pets out there.
It’s There Hidden in Plain Sight
I’ve been living here for 19 years and I didn’t know it was there until I went looking for information on another Boulder City project that I am working on. I found a neat little blog by Jim Sullivan of PlacesThat Were.com. He mentioned visiting the old “Illegal and Secret” Boulder City Pet Cemetery. That caught my attention. What was that? An old pet cemetery? Where?
Supposedly it was started in the 1950s by a veteran who lived in Boulder City who wanted a special place to bury his pets. So he went a little way out of town and started to dig. Some other townspeople found out what he was doing and they wanted the same for their deceased pet, so the man started to offer his pet burial services.
Problem was that he was doing this on Federal land and apparently it’s illegal to bury your pets on Federal land. Besides that issue, the area is prone to flash floods and is really popular with some of the local coyotes who hunt that area looking for food. Fresh buried dog, hungry coyote. Hmmm… what could possibly go wrong??
Boulder City Steps in
In the 1990s, Boulder City did some land trades and purchases with the Federal government. Taking this land for a tortoise habitat. That meant they were going to go in and clear the area of anything that was non-native to the area. Like pet cemeteries! So “friends” of the pet cemetery got together and they made a deal with the federal and local governments to allow it to stay there, “as is”. It’s still illegal to bury any bodies out there (when did that stop anyone from Las Vegas??). At least they got everyone to agree to let what was there, stay there.
It’s Still There
Over the years, Mother Nature, wild animals and maybe even a few unfriendly tourists, have taken its toll on the place. People still go out there to bury pets, but it’s looking abandoned and obviously neglected. Looking around, it is interesting to see what people have done to honor their beloved pets. How they wanted the best for them in the end or maybe just a place to remind them of what they lost.
Leave No Trace
If you decide on your next journey to Las Vegas that you want to visit Boulder City, and you really should, and you want to stop to see this place… Please be respectful and leave it as you found it.
Yes, Mother Nature is taking its toll on the landscape. Wind blowing, flash floods, hot scorching sun, along with years of coyotes looking for food, all have done a lot of damage to the gravesites. That doesn’t mean you should add to the damage or take home a souvenir. Stop, look around, take some pictures, then leave with the memories. Save it as you found it for the next people who want to follow you out there.
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