As a recent resident of Las Vegas, I was excited by the prospect of visiting the Neon Graveyard. Located on Las Vegas Boulevard (The Strip) north of Downtown and the Fremont Street Experience, the Neon Graveyard (a.k.a. Neon Museum or The Boneyard) offers an eclectic mix of old Vegas and new. From pre-WWII signs to the recent Stardust implosion, I glimpsed at a world of ever-changing fonts, ideas, and images.
As I strolled through rows of old signage, visions of Old Style Vegas floated in the day’s hazy heat – you could practically hear Deano and Frank sharing quips over a martini. Ironically, the museum is located in the oldest neighborhood in Las Vegas and is adjacent to the first settled area in the valley – the Old Mormon Fort.
My guide, Erin, regaled us with tales of eccentric millionaires, of “atomic packages,” of mob-run delis, traveling icons, and more. I especially enjoyed the little tidbit on Howard Hughes & The Silver Slipper. Originally spinning on the top of its namesake, The Silver Slipper so disturbed Hughes that he bought the aforementioned establishment and turned the offending eyesore off! Later, Wayne Newton, during a photo op, cracked it after resting his foot on it.
Costing $180,000 USD to move from The Strip to the graveyard, signs from the newly imploded Stardust rest here amid piles of neon detritus. Surprisingly, I learned that the original font for the Stardust was created to showcase the infamous Atomic Tests – the casino went so far as to create drinks and vacation packages to celebrate this scientific feat.
Casinos, restaurants, pool halls, trailer parks – if there was a neon sign, most likely this place has it. Even a sign from Cedar City, Utah – China Garden Cafe – holds court with Caesar’s Palace & the Coin King. Sadly, the Neon Graveyard does not contain all the famous signs from Las Vegas’ neon past. For instance, only one piece of the Dunes survives – others may exist in the collections of private individuals.
The non-profit cultural center that runs the museum is in the process of building a permanent exhibit and offering structured tours, so I was fortunate enough to be included on one of the last private tours offered. Hopefully, on your next visit to Las Vegas, you might get a chance to see these neon behemoths!
Editor’s Note: You can browse more of Sue’s snaps on the Viator Flickr Site: Las Vegas’ Neon Graveyard. Planning a trip? Browse all of Viator’s Las Vegas tours & things do, including Las Vegas helicopter tours and Grand Canyon tours from Vegas. Viva Las Vegas!