Boulder City’s Pet Cemetery

Posted: May 11, 2015 in Cemetery
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The cemetery doesn’t really have an official name; instead it’s a little place that might well have been given a history thanks to the Las Vegas Mafia, who may well have used it as a great place to dispose of their snitches, thieves and troublemakers. The pet cemetery is used perhaps as a luscious rouse to the more nefarious activities… Next to Rover the Dog you might well be inadvertently paying respect to a former snitch or otherwise.

Even with the help of Google earth and modern satnav etc. it is still quite hard to find, and then you have the speculation of the Mafia which may well put many off heading to the site anyway. If you try to find it then the best information I got was take the 95/93 from Las Vegas towards Boulder city and then about half way between the 95 changes towards Laughlin, you need to turn off there for a few miles then opposing lanes split in two, take the first possible U-turn, drive back the way you came for a few seconds before the lanes come back together. Right before this lane merges you will see a dirt track on the right and an open white gate that leads to the beginning of the cemetery.

The creation and abandonment of the cemetery seems to also go with the rise and fall of the Mafia success. Stories on the internet go around about a Boulder City veteran who wanted a place to bury his pets, so it was created in 1953 by said gent, Marwood Doud. Another says that it was a civil engineer that year, Emory Lockette, who offered a pet funeral service for fifty dollars per pet. The two stories might well have merged at some point but at least the year is consistent so I will go with 1953.

The fact does remain that the cemetery was placed on federal land and therefore built illegally so no official name was given, possibly to help avoid it being found. Later on it was acquired by Boulder City but there is still no firm decision on what will be done with it, so it’s still pretty much abandoned and for the most part lost to many.

The earliest of the graves are from the 50’s and are closest to the road, and many are in poor shape, having gone or on the verge of doing so. The graves are small and would have been bordered with little wooden fencing; some of the remnants still remain. The layout shows that they are arranged in a linear fashion with plays to keep it neat and orderly as the grounds expanded. The further you travel around the three acre land you see that some are more complex graves, with more creative displays involved.

Amongst the pets you find dogs, cats, rabbits, a fish named Spike II and a little hidden gem, a headstone for Flash, the son of the TV star Rin Tin Tin IV. He was groomed to be the star of the 50’s show but was replaced due to the poor screen showing, he was nominated for an award in 1958 and 1959 despite that.

The graves show a lot of love to the former pets and some make a slightly more ghostly allure because they have lights on them that come on at sundown, which leads me into ghostly tales. There is really only one mentioned in a couple of places with brief lines, about a friendly ghost kitty that will follow you to the gates if you visit at night.

In regards to the Mafia story it seems a little unlikely for body dumping, given how well it seems to have been constructed for the pets. The area is susceptible to flash floods and would make it likely to be a place where the bodies would be found too quickly, natural erosion of the desert would push the heavier bodies downstream from their original locations. Graves could be dug up by coyotes and other desert inhabitants, this is shown where they have dug up little ‘mittens’ etc. and exposed buts of fur etc.

Really this seems more like a little hidden gem of a history of showing love for pets, not a Mafia dumping ground, and it’s a shame that it’s likely to end up lost entirely one day due to it’s location.

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