Dirt (King of the Shop)

Item #ABD109

Size: 14in W. x 6in H. x 16in L.

Gallery: Click any photo to enlarge...

  • Dirt the Cat Nevada Northern Railway Company custom bronze statue cat memorial
  • Dirt the Cat Nevada Northern Railway Company custom bronze statue cat memorial
  • Dirt the Cat Nevada Northern Railway Company custom bronze statue cat memorial
  • Dirt the Cat Nevada Northern Railway Company custom bronze statue cat memorial
  • Dirt the Cat Nevada Northern Railway Company custom bronze statue cat memorial
  • Dirt the Cat Nevada Northern Railway Company custom bronze statue cat memorial

Art of Bronze

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Art of Bronze is deeply privileged to collaborate with Nevada Northern Railway Company in commemorating Dirt, the cherished king of the shop cat, through a timeless bronze statue memorial. Meticulous attention to detail and a profound sense of reverence went into crafting this tribute to Dirt, ensuring that his spirit is immortalized in bronze for eternity.

With great care and dedication, our artisans have captured Dirt in all his regal glory, depicting him majestically seated with his long mane flowing around his chest. Every contour and feature of Dirt’s noble visage has been faithfully recreated, honoring his presence and significance in the shop and in the hearts of all who knew him.

This bronze statue memorial stands as a lasting tribute to Dirt’s enduring legacy, a testament to his strength, loyalty, and unwavering companionship. May it serve as a cherished reminder of the indelible bond shared between Dirt and all who had the privilege of knowing him.

Dirt’s Obituary

It is with a very heavy heart that we report Dirt, our Boss Shop Cat, passed away yesterday. He was 15 years old, and beloved by everyone here at the railroad and around the world.

Here’s Dirt’s story. In the spring of 2008, a little kitten of orange and white fur was found in the engine house by himself. The mother and any other kittens were long gone. The crew at the time would sit for hours each day with cans of tuna and soft cat food, to get the little fur ball to trust them.

When he finally came around to trusting them, Al, the railroad’s Master Mechanic, took him to the vet for a checkup, shots, and eventually he was neutered. It was live and let live. The shop guys did their thing, and the little kitten did his thing. The warmest place in the shop is in the cab of a coal-fired steam locomotive. There is coal dust everywhere. Over time, our little ball of fur started picking up some of the black coal dust, and he was named Dirtbag. As our visitors started discovering the shop’s cat, it was decided to shorten his name to Dirt.

The engine house and machine shop are very dirty, noisy environments. In addition to the locomotives and railroad cars being moved in and out. Repair work goes on all the time. Dirt got very wise, very fast, quickly figuring out where not to be when locomotives and cars were moving, or work was being performed. He grew into a large rough-and-tough tom cat that ruled the shop and surrounding neighborhood. We saw him playing fetch with gophers and bats. Don’t ask us how he got them, he just did. He hated being cleaned up, but loved being a railroader. It was not uncommon to find him rolling around in the dust outside the shop.

The shop knew he was special, and did what they could to protect him. When Angie, our superintendent, went to work in the mechanical department she became one of his caretakers. She became his nemesis, since she took him for his vet visits. She cleaned him as much as she could, which Dirt did NOT like at all. To make amends, she would sneak him turkey dinners on the holidays. Mike Calchera, our grizzled track guy, got to scratch Dirt’s ears and would make sure he had clean warm beds, it was Al who was his favorite. Al was our master mechanic at the time, had a soft spot for Dirt. Dirt could do no wrong and was given the run of the shop and the engine house.

The arrangement of Dirt doing his thing, while the shop guys did theirs, would have stayed that way, had it not been for the keen eye of photographer extraordinaire, Steve Crise. It was during the 2018 winter photo shoot; Steve was walking through the machine shop. He happened to notice Dirt, sitting regally, in front of locomotive 40. He laid down on the machine shop floor with his camera, and grabbed the shot with Dirt posing the whole time.

It was a great photo, but there are thousands of great photos out there. What Dirt needed was a publicist, enter Eric Mencis, who was our Guest Services Manager at the time. Eric posted Steve’s photo on our Facebook page and the rest, they say, is history!

Who knew that a semi-feral cat, living at a National Historic Landmark Railroad, in the middle of the “Big Empty” of Nevada, would become so famous? We sure didn’t, but boy howdy did Dirt become famous! Google “Dirt the Nevada Northern Cat,” and stories, videos and articles pop up. Dirt has been featured in the Washington Post, Trains Magazine, and newspapers in Europe, not to mention the thousands of individual posts of our visitors that got to take his picture.

All this publicity brought people to Ely to see him, many traveling hundreds, if not thousands of miles. This stunned the staff and volunteers. After all, Dirt was just Dirt, right? Nope! Dirt was a media and social media sensation, and Dirt knew it!

As part of the experience at the Nevada Northern Railway, we offer scheduled guided tours of the machine shop and engine house. Dirt knew the schedule. He would hide away all morning long, but let the 2:30 pm tour come into the machine shop, and Dirt was there to greet them. When the tour was over, Dirt would wander off to one of his many hidey-holes until the next tour.

Dirt has fans that love him from all over the world. But we few at the Nevada Northern Railway Museum are the lucky ones. We got to love him in person. As he aged, we found a vet that loved him as much as we did. Dirt also received more care takers including Jasmine, who would be his last. He never missed a meal, or a head scratch. As he aged and slowed down, he learned to love watching shows on our phones while he was sitting in our laps. After the show, he would leave streaks of dirt on the pants of his visitors, or drool on their boots. Dirt was one-of-kind. He was the Boss Shop Cat at the Nevada Northern Railway. Con, our Trainmaster, selected a spot on the grounds in between the Depot, and the Freight Depot in the shade of a pine to serve as his final resting place. His burial site is opposite where all our excursion trains’ locomotives sit prior to departure, and it gives a view of the yard, that in addition to the shop, was Dirt’s domain.

But be forewarned, if you’re visiting the Nevada Northern Railway Museum and you’re admiring one of our steam locomotives just prior to departure, don’t be surprised, if, out of the corner of your eye, you see a lanky old guy, holding an orange and gray cat, looking over the locomotive. The old guy will be cursing a blue streak at the crew, while the cat just looks on knowingly. If you turn to confront them, they will have disappeared. But don’t fret, that was just Al and Dirt checking out the locomotive, making sure that everything is running smoothly. After all, they don’t call us the Ghost Train of Old Ely for nothing. We are all saddened with the passing of Dirt. He will be missed. The machine shop and engine house won’t feel the same without him. His last days were spent with the crew that loved him best. Gathering around, our crew laid him to rest while a Nevada snowstorm blew through. They shared their memories and thanked him for his service. Knowing that they were laying to rest one of their own, a part of the Nevada Northern Railway family. They will all tell you, this was one of the hardest things they have done here.

To commemorate Dirt, Nevada Northern Railway Museum commissioned two life size bronze castings of Dirt. One serves as his gravestone, the other is placed in the machine shop allowing Dirt to continue watching over the shop.  Life-size and ½ life-size can be purchased through the museum.

If you would like to immortalize your cat’s own unique personality, call Art of Bronze and speak to a specialist.  Let us capture the essence and spirit of your beloved family pet.  A special urn can be made that will not only house your loved ones cremated remains, but it will also permanently secure and display the sculpture.  Art of Bronze can also have a custom personalized plaque made for the front.

  • Patina / Coloring

    Art of Bronze is known for its exclusive and beautiful patinas. We specialize in creating traditional patinas of brown, burgundy, green (verde) or a brown & verde green combination. We are also experts in creating exotic colors. Let the Art of Bronze enhance the wonderful quality and detail of your new sculpture with our world-class patinas. No two patinas are exactly a like which will make your sculpture a unique treasure.

  • Maintenance

    Bronze lasts forever and will never rust, warp or contort. It is an alloy (a mixture of metals) and will oxidize over the years. This process will not hurt the statue. In fact, it can enhance the beauty by turning the statue many wonderful shades of greens, blues, whites and yellows. For the client that wants to maintain the original patina/coloring of their newly acquired work of art, Art of Bronze has several secrets. Every statue and placement will have different requirements and it is best to discuss your needs with Art of Bronze.

  • Installation

    Art of Bronze specializes in creating monuments for city and state governments, corporations and developers throughout the country. We are very proud of our 30 years of expertise. No matter the size of your sculpture, you can be assured we will help guide you through the installation to permanently secure your statue. Every sculpture whether private or public will have different requirements. Call Art of Bronze today and we will discuss your needs with you.