las vegas neon sign graveyard

posted by the scholar on August 21st, 2007
filed under: photography

they call it the neon graveyard. 3 acres of decades-old signs from the heart and soul (if there is one) of las vegas, signs that have seen better days in a city where hot, fast and new becomes instantly old. since i am a rogue, and also not as tall as my husband, i made him peer over the jagged chain link fence, complete with green wind screen and barbed wire, in a sketchily populated area north of downtown, to snap some shots. aren’t they cool?












there is talk of plans to open a museum featuring these pieces, and although we have heard such talk in prior visits to the city, we did not see any such evidence. those were, in fact, the same visits which found us asking concierges all over town about this place. although helpful, most of the folks behind those desks barely knew what the place was, let alone direct us to a tour company. it was only this trip that produced directions to the site.

it turns out that there is a company called boneyard tours that takes people in, by appointment only. we only found this out by seeing the random sign slapped on the fence after we got there, so it certainly isn’t a well-known fact.

it was a strangely spooky experience, even in broad daylight.

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22 Responses to “las vegas neon sign graveyard”

  1. sosser Says:

    what a waste to lock them up! they would be so impressive standing on either side of a long stretch of desert highway leading to the city, if there is such a thing.

  2. the scholar Says:

    yep, i agree sosser. and there is a long stretch of desert highway leading to town — but maybe junk men would steal them under cover of night if they were left outside without barbed wire protection! 🙁

    i think more people would go see them (and probably pay an admission fee too) if they were in a place that was more obvious than this!

  3. Kelly Says:

    those shots are amazingly gorgeous! love your site, too. glad i stumbled across it 😀
    best wishes!

  4. the scholar Says:

    hi kelly,

    thanks for your comment — glad you like the shots, it was worth the visual trespassing we did!

    i hope you come visit again soon! 🙂

  5. jan Says:

    these are amazing shots!! i’d love to go to a museum of these.

  6. the scholar Says:

    hi jan,

    thanks for the visit!

    i’m not sure if it will happen, but sign me up for the museum tour too!

  7. Jes Says:

    I think they’re amazing and best the way they are. It makes it a little more strange and special too see something that doesn’t have admission and tourist lined up to see. Beautiful!! I will be on the hunt for this in the fall when I trek out there.

  8. the scholar Says:

    hi jes,

    i like what you say about finding things while traveling that aren’t overrun with people or very touristy.

    it’s right next to this stucco motel or apartment building and i kept wondering if the people who had rooms on the top floor enjoyed looking out at all the signs from their balconies. or maybe they just don’t care…

    if you head north of town on the main drag, you will come upon it.

    thanks for your comment!

  9. Mary Says:

    This reminds me of the recent anthropolgie photo shoot. It was their spring or summer catalogue, but some of the photos are still on their site…

  10. the scholar Says:

    hi mary,

    yes! i think you are right about that catalog shoot — it looks VERY familiar!

    thanks for the visit!

  11. Keith Says:

    After much searching I was able to find info on these tours and this past fall (2007) was able to get inside the fence. All I can say is WOW! If you love all things Las Vegas you MUST do this tour! There are so many great pieces in the collection. I was just going through my picture collection (not online yet) remembering my visit.

  12. the scholar Says:

    hi keith,

    that is COOL – when we were there not a soul was around. glad to hear you got to see them in person!

    thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  13. Stewart Says:

    Very awesome collection! I was just wondering, Where is this place? How can I get there from Vegas?

  14. the scholar Says:

    hi stewart,

    well, it isn’t hard to find but it’s random (which i think goes along with the whole theme!). the lot is unmarked and is just north of downtown on las vegas boulevard. i don’t think it has an address. i remember they told us at the hotel to go under highway 515 and it is on a corner, right before cashman field, essentially on the corner or mcwilliams and las vegas blvd.

    btw you have a beautiful collection of photos. 🙂

    have fun, thanks for the visit and let me know what you think of the graveyard!

  15. Lauren Kilberg Says:

    This is one of those things I never knew I didn’t know. I’ve never wondered where those old signs go, but now knowing I’m glad I do. Great post. I posted it over on my blog as well (with full credit to you and your wonderful blog). Thanks for sharing!

  16. the scholar Says:

    hi lauren,

    the graveyard is a very special place. we felt an odd combination of respect and melancholy in the warm desert sun when we were there. i am so glad we finally found it!

    thanks for the visit, the link and the nice compliment – i am enjoying your blog too! 🙂

  17. Lauren Kilberg Says:

    I really do hope to visit someday. I read a lot of travel blogs/magazines/books and have never heard mention of this place.

    The thanks is all mine.


  18. Tony Says:

    I have be going to Las Vegas since I was 16 y.o. Iam now 43 and still enjoy all the new lights, but sadly miss all the old ones as well. Thanks for the flashback

  19. the scholar Says:

    i hear ya, tony, i hear ya. today’s lights are just not the same, even though they may be more exciting than the old ones to others. 🙂

    thanks for dropping by.

  20. josie Says:

    please give address if you have it, going to vegas in september 2oo8

  21. the scholar Says:

    read through the thread of comments – i think i mapped it out for someone else. i do not know the address.

  22. Bicycle Bill Says:

    The two crowns shown in picture #3 look to me to be part of the old “Gold Crown” logo of the “Best Western” motel chain, which was retired in the early 1990s.
    As such, these are nothing particularly unique to Las Vegas.

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