WHO: Dirt the Cat was the Official Mascot of the Nevada Northern Railway up until his passing in January 2023. His nickname is "King of the Shop."
WHY: Because Dirt carried out his role as official greeter and mascot in such a regal way. He was regularly there to greet visitors.
It is with a very heavy heart that we report Dirt, our Boss Shop Cat, passed away January 11, 2023. He was 15 years old, and beloved by everyone here at the railroad and around the world.
In 2008 Dirt was born here, in the main locomotive repair shop, under one of our historic steam locomotives. He was shy little kitty who looked for nooks and crannies in the shop to hid. The shop staff became attached to the little guy. Both the shop staff and the locomotive crews always liked to have him hang around the shop with them as they went about their tasks. With a can of Tuna here and there, and some attention every so often he became very familiar routine in the shop. He fit right into the work being done here, and seemed to want to keep an eye on it all.
Dirt was almost always front-and-center to great our museum guest and tours. He also loves to greet the locomotives as they return to the shop after a day of work out on the line. He is unflustered by the routine noises in the shop as the machinery operates. The shop was his home, and all that he really knew. He just loved the attention from his fans all over the world!
Dirt got his name because loves to roll in the Dirt in the back rooms of the engine house. He got his title, King of the Shop, because he carried out his role as official greeter and mascot in such a regal way.
You can come to Ely Nevada and visit the Nevada Northern Railway. Dirt Jr., the new mascot, is still holding court in the main locomotive overhaul shop of the Nevada Northern Railway. While your at it, come take a train ride! A guided tour of the main yards and shop is included in the cost of the train ticket.
We still have a stock of Dirt Coffee Mug, T-shirt. Magnet and more in the General Store . Click here for details.
We are planning to put a tombstone with a bronze statue on Dirt's final resting place, which is within a short walk from the main depot. Stay tune for details.
We appreciate all of the heartfelt affection that has been extended to Dirt from around the world. We were very lucky to have Dirt as our official ambassador. We will continue the special fund for those of you who would like to contribute in memory of Dirt the Cat. Contributions in any amount are always welcome. We are an independent non-profit 501(c)3 historic foundation that maintains and operates this wonderful slice of history through the support of fans like you.
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I was lucky enough to get to come by Ely and visit the railroad and Dirt a few months before his passing. As I was in the shop, he sauntered up to me and looked up as is to say, "OK, pet me!" I reached down to do so and he obliged by pressing himself against me. What a wonderful memory of a wonderful cat! RIP dear Dirt!
Tom, thanks for your note. Glad that you were able to meet him. We are all going to miss that guy.
It was sad to hear that this wonderful cat passed away. Even if i don’t know him personally, he was special to be a wonderful cat around guests. Rest easy in the sky and and you’ll be missed
Rest In Peace Dirt! Sad that i never got the chance to meet you but you'll always be with me spiritual and in my heart!
Though I'm one of many Nevada Northern railfans who has never had the opportunity to visit your railroad in person, I still follow your operations and history very closely because you are, in my opinion, the very best tourist railroad on the planet, period!
Over the years, dogs and cats, were and continue to be adopted by railroad roundhouse forces and depot agents worldwide.
Dirt (RIP) belonged to a unique "Fraternity of Railroad Critters" who became NN's official mascot and was known internationally. While placing a tomestone with bronze statue in Dirt's final resting place is most fitting, Dirt's spirit is very much alive as he has been appointed president to represent all members of the "FRC" in the Roundhouse in the Sky which is located just beyond the Big Rock Candy Mountains. In respect to all the railroaders and railfans and steel rail critters alike who now call this special resting place their eternal home, I believe it fitting to listen to the recording of "Life's Railway to Heaven", sung by the late great George Hamilton IV, which begins with the words "Life is like a mountain railroad".
Joseph, Well said! Greeting to you in Bavaria.
I am so glad that Dirt had a happy life at the Neveada Northern Railway Museum.
Fifteen good years! RIP dear kitty...
It always gave me joy to see photos and commentary about Dirt. I will surely miss him and seeing his stories on line.
LuAnn, thanks for sharing. It is true, we all miss him. All the best to you.
To everyone at the Railway...
I'm so sorry for your loss. I never got to meet Dirt but the ol' Dusty Boye made me cry today seeing that he passed. I used to work with a "Work Cat", and have always been very allergic, but Lunchbox (the cat I worked with) became my little buddy. I loved him so much I would get shots for allergies instead of complaining, because after all, he was there before me. Dirt reminds me of Lunchbox. It broke my heart to leave that job because of that sweet cat, and I think about him a lot, but Dirt's journey reminds me of him. Dirt had a job, and he was fantastic at it. His job was to love your Railyard and to be loved. He served to the last day, and I have no doubt he was loved to the last day and beyond. Thank you for sharing him with the world. I hope he is happy in Kitty heaven, keeping the trains on the track and rolling in clouds of dirt. May he rest.
RIP - Dirt
Very sad news about Dirt! I had a chance to meet Dirt Jr. in September, 2023 during the 2022 Iron Horse Symposium. Unfortunately, Dirt wasn't available during my short visit. He was probably busy corralling some recalcitrant mice. I'm very glad that there will be tributes to you, including two sculptures. Rest easy, good cat!
My big gray tab cat lords over my HO scale 'western' railroad, he asked me to pass on the message "steam on my brother"
You will be missed by all of us, Dirt. You were an important part of so many lives.
Here comes greetings from Sweden to my sweet idol Dirt
My biggest fear came true when Dirt passed away. I would have loved to visit him but the pandemic put an end to my plans....
Sleep well little one
Kära Sun, tack för den vänliga hälsningen från Sverige till vår lilla vän, Dirt. Allt gott till dig!
I heard of your loss of “Dirt” tonight on Fox 13 news,my heart goes out to you.
I just heard about Dirt I can't quit crying thanks to all of you for giving him a beautiful life he's adorable so sorry for your loss but I'm sure he had more love than some cats would ever have rest in peace little dirt you're adorable adorable ❤️
What a wonderful story and a wonderful cat. May he rest in peace. Sympathy with you.
Its so sad to hear about Dirts passing he was a special Cat for sure, you might say he was like an Ambassador that was part of the UN, but instead to the Railroad Museum and its people. Rest in peace Dirt in that big Train Depot in the Sky you will be missed for sure!
Well said. Thanks, Paul.
RIP Dirt the Cat
What a great story and life! Our pets take a piece of our heart and the time with them is never long enough. So sorry for your loss.
Thank you, Charla.
Felix from Age of Steam Roundhouse located in Sugarcreek, OH could temporarily fill in for Dirt until you can find another cat and so Dirt Jr. can have someone in company.
Hayden, thank you for the offer, but let Felix enjoy his roundhouse there. Looks like will have a new little friend for DJ soon. The railroad has a long tradition of cats in watching over the shop.
RIP Dirt I did not not get to meet you but I felt like I knew you, you will be greatly missed.
Yes, he will be.
Visited Dirt several times over the years. My family loved Dirt and the NNRY. RIP Dirt.
So sorry to hear of Dirt's passing, he escorted me around the shop during a visit several years ago, and allowed me the honor of a pet. He was a noble and gracious feline and honorable shop mascot, I hope Dirt Junior can fill his paws. My condolences to his clowder, shop crew and his many human friends.
Sorry to hear of Dirt’s passing, never got to meet him, but enjoyed reading about him he had a good life at the railroad shop.
He will be missed by all that knew him.
I hope to visit eventually.
Abell rail service's Choo Choo and crew are saddened to hear this news...and hope he finds a nice loco to sleep in across the Rainbow Bridge
I never got a chance to meet Dirt. I loved seeing his picture and the posts at the office. I will come see Dirt Jr. Rest in peace, Dirt. You are loved and will be missed.
We saw and enjoyed Dirt when we visited and rode your train a few years ago. He was indeed the King of the Shop and enjoyed the attention he always got. I grew up with cats and have always appreciated the gregarious ones who enjoy crowds of people. We'll vicariously miss him. Glad Dirt Jr. is around, the shop needs a resident cat! -- Nancy and Lloyd
Nancy and Lloyd, thank you for your words about Dirt. So glad that you were able to see him "hold court" in the shop. Hope to see you down the tracks.
So sorry to hear of Dirt's passing. I know you all gave him a great life and showed him the love he deserved. May his memory live on.
Art, Thanks! All the best to you.
So sorry for everyone's loss. He sounds like such a special friend. What a wonderful life you gave this sweet boy. Fly high
Dirt was beautiful and truly matched the environment, but added unique personality, as cats do:) I'm sure he will be missed but remembered fondly.
I'm so sorry to hear of Dirt's passing. I know that you all loved him and gave him a good life. He's flying high over the rainbow bridge looking down on all that loved and cared for him.
I'm sorry to hear the passing of Dirt. My he live on in his little buddy.
so sorry to hear of dirts passing, sounds like to me he lived one of the best 15 years alive with you all there.
Yes, it was a great time for all of us. Dirt was definitely a great team member. He loved to greet all of the visitors to the shop, as well as standing guard when the machinery was in operation. We are going to miss him.
We love Dirt & are so sad he’s gone over the rainbow bridge. We will miss him. We are happy to see DJ fill the paws of the new boss. ❤️
I am sorry to hear of Dirts passing
I was sorry to hear about Dirt and understand a couple of bronze statues are in the works? Or might there be a display or book at some point (amazing how noise didn't phase him and he fit in so well)?
In memory of DIRT the Cat....and the the good health of DJ...regards Dennis Middlemiss...West Wodonga....Victoria...Australia
I’m so sorry to hear about Dirts passing. I had hoped to be able to visit long before his passing. Dirt was such a special cat and I’m sure Dirt Jr. will do a great job. RIP Dirt!
Donna, thank you for your words about Dirt. We all wish that we could have spent more time with him. All the best to you.
I am so sorry for your loss of Dirt Sr. I know Dirt Jr. will try his best to fill those larger pawprints. I lost my kitty Morgaine the day before, so this story about Dirt (or should I call it a Eulogy) was absolutely heartwarming. Your love for Dirt knew no bounds; I can only wish that more people were just like you all. Thanks for loving Dirt, and thanks for your work at the Nevada Northern Railway, you all deserve a good life and appreciation! I wish I could have met such a phenomenal kitty, may he rest in peace now as he deserves that peace for a job well done!
Rust in pieces Dirt!
This is on my list to visit and to see Dirt final resting place.
Little Man, I was never able to have the pleasure, but my son and parents met you on the same journey last summer. I do hope to truly pet you one day when we’re all in the same place together. ❤️
Rachele, thank you for your thoughtful note. We will all miss Dirt.
I was so sad to hear of the passing of Dirt. I send my sincere condolences along with my thoughts and prayers. I sure hope that Dirt Jr can fill those giant pawprints. Much love from Mesquite, Texas
Met him in July of 2016. He insisted on meeting each one of us and getting his ears scratched. He was the best greeter any railroad could wish for.
I have just heard about Dirt's passing. This makes me so sad to hear. He would come running to see me when he would hear my voice when I would visit the railroad museum. I had met him as a young kitty when I would visit the museum when in town for the Silver State Classic Challenge events. I would stop by both times I would be in Ely for the races. May you be chasing mice in Heaven, I will miss that dirty ball of fluff.
Hi could you send me a link to seen some money for Dirt the cat sorry I lost the letter I live in the UK so I can send by credit card
Phillip, thanks for asking. The link is https://nnry.doubleknot.com/donate/dollars-for-dirt/2741328
Dirt greeted us, posed for pics, and let me pat him. Followed me to get another pat Very happy to meet him in person.
I loved reading about Dirt, he is a fabulous star!
If I ever get to Nevada I will pay my respects to the king
Dirt greeted mas if on cue as I entered the railshop and let me pet him before he nonchalantly walked away. What a nice little treat!!
My wife and I met Dirt whilst touring USA in 2017, I had met him 3 years earlier on a motorcycle tour.Newark to San Francisco then back to Newark via Death valley in 20 days..it was marvellous.I wanted my wife to meet him which is a big thumbs up for you all as we are from England
Thank you for those kind words from across the pond.
I've met dirt WHAT A CAT. I think he knew I was a cat lover, his kitty motor started the second I petted him. Dirt Jr is also a very cool feline. I can't wait to get back to the yard and see finished locomotives and of course dirt and dirt Jr.
Jeffrey, thanks for the shout-out to Dirt and DJ. We will pass your greetings on to them :)
Wonderful story about Dirt. Makes me want to fly from PA just to meet him.
How do I get a Dirt calender?
Dirt the Cat has graced several items in our general store, including our current 2021 calendar. You can find all of the Dirt merchandise at our General Store page. Go to https:nnry.com, then look on the main menu under GIFTS.
I love Dirt! He is awesome!! I would live to meet him in person. My dad worked for CSX for 42 years. I love all railroad stories! I am a railroad story fan too!
We're going to make our way to meet Dirt when we can. He looks like a real good cat! - Dave & Gail
Dirt is a really dirty cat. Despite the fact that he need a bath real bad. He won over my heart as I toured the engine room. He trotted out when we visitors came in the room. He was front and center, ready for affection, made us feel real welcome. I've loved trains since by Dad used to come home on the 505 from work in Boston. I guess I'm kind of jealous of Dirt. He gets to work on the railroad all the live the day. When we were out in Nevada, we missed out 2 cats, Radon and Caillum, so Dirt was a welcome site. I know he has a home in his caboose, but that caboose has seen better days, but the caboose was well stocked with cat food, so Dirt won't stray to far from there, I'm sure.
Terry, thanks for coming all the way from Massachusetts and visiting us! Gald that you enjoyed it, and got to see Dirt the Cat in action. Yes, he loves to lead the tours around "his" engine house. He is almost always there to greet the locomotives as they return from their day of service.
It was the best train ride and train experience we have been on And we got to meet Dirt the mascot
We need Dirt face masks! Bet they would be a good seller!
Initially learned of Dirt a year or two ago via photos posted to Railpictures dot net then just today got notification of You Tube video featuring him by channel Toy Man Television. Way back in 1980s I wrote a short story about a fictional short line which had a cat named Fred (Feline rodent elimination device) who lived in the engine shed and liked to ride along on the RR's secondhand GP9 but my friends said that was totally unrealistic because cats would never put up with the loud noises. Well, it would now appear that there's "never" and then there's the Nevada Northern ... :) Anyway, say Hey to Dirt from the two orange tabby rescues who live with me. Would be nice if my health and income allowed for a trip to the NN to see the outfit and to visit Dirt, but, hey, I am thankful to have the internet which offers virtual visits.
Scott, thanks for your note. Yes, Dirt is very used to all that goes on in the engine house. He seems to be able to tell one sound from another. He is often on-hand we welcome the locomotives back into the engine house at the end of the day. The noise does not phase him one bit.
Glenn already said what I was thinking about. A Dirt Calendar would take up a prominent position in the railroad room. Thanks to Dale and Karyn Angell, I got to meet Dirt on their Toy Man Television post this morning (Sunday 11-17-2019).
Y'all need to put out a Dirt calendar, please. Then we could enjoy him all year long.
Thanks for the suggestion. Please stay tuned. We are putting together next year's calendar. It will soon be available in our online general store (see GIFT tab on the main menu bar)
Being a cat lover, I enjoyed your article about Dirt. One of our cats, the late Sadie, liked to sit on the bookcase in my layout room and watch the train run. She never got on the layout, just sat there and watched. Please give Dirt a pat from me and from Brownie, Daddy, Madam, and Golden Rocket, our three.
I always enjoy your posts about "Dirt"! I would love to meet him.
Thanks for your note all the way from Saskatchewan. It is true that Dirt has a lot of friends all over the world. We hope to see you down this way sometime to see Dirt in person.