Today, we are grieving the loss of one of many American feline legends. Today, we are here to pay homage to Dirt, the Nevada Railway mascot cat.
Dirt came into this world in 2008. Born from a stray that wandered to the engine house of East Ely Railroad, she and her siblings took their first breaths under one of the rotary snowplows built in 1907.
As soon as they gained some strength, her mom and her siblings left the railroad, but for whatever reason, Dirt remained there. At first, she was very frightened of everything that was happening around her, and she constantly kept looking for nooks and crannies to hide in.
Some of the train crew members saw her, and with the intention to get her out, they started to leave her cans of tuna every day.
Eventually, Dirt relaxed a bit, stopped being afraid, went out, and befriended the workers. From that point on, she became a part of their crew.
Like any other cat, Dirt was very curious. She loved to sniff around, inspect the things train workers were working on, roll around the dusty and dirty floors, and climb on top of coal pines.
These expeditions resulted in her being constantly dirty. Hence, the name – Dirt. The pattern of her fur was actually a combination of white and orange coloring, but because she was always covered in gray dust as though she herself had been working there, the colors were barely noticeable.
One of the workers, Mencis, said how she probably never learned to lick herself clean, which was very unlikely for a cat.
Maybe she never learned. Maybe she simply refused to be clean. We’ll never know for sure. All that we know is that her dirty coat was a part of her charm and that it actually served her some purpose – it kept her free from bugs.
Dirt’s rugged appearance perfectly matched her personality, too.
Mencis said that the workers there were doing one of the most dangerous jobs in the world – copper mining railroad work. This kind of job takes some toll on the men there, making them harsher and tougher. So, it was no surprise that Dirt emulated these characteristics, too.
For fifteen long years, Dirt had spent her time on the railroad, mingling with the workers. She acted as their supervisor, always checking if everything was in order. She was there to motivate the workers to keep up the good work and to offer them some cuddles when the break time arrives.
Dirt was friendly not only towards the workers but to anyone who came there in order to visit that historically significant railway. She would rub against visitors’ legs, steal a pet or two and be an absolute star.
Because she loved to greet every visitor that came there, they gave her a very special nickname – “The King of the Shop.” Little did they know that Dirt was more of a queen than she was a king.
To everyone’s surprise, Dirt became a mother several years ago. Her kittens were as beautiful as she was, all orange and white with the tendency to get dirty. However, they didn’t find their way around the railroad very well, so the workers had to find them another home and adopt them.
The adoption of Dirt’s kittens wasn’t hard at all. Due to her being internet famous, many people knew about her, so finding a forever home for her babies was an easy task.
Her social media popularity had been skyrocketing ever since the first time her picture got published. Almost instantly, Dirt became a tourist sensation of sorts. Many wanted to come, meet and take pictures with her.
This wide interest in Dirt resulted in the production of t-shirts, magnets, key chains, and coffee mugs with Dirt’s image on them. Visitors were able to either buy or order these trinkets, as a way of taking a sweet keepsake of Dirt back to their homes.
During her long and prosperous life, Dirt received an abundance of love and affection from many people. So, it’s not enough to say that the world felt devastated once they found out that Dirt passed away.
Sadly, Dirt left us on January 11 this year, after fifteen long years of living at the railway of the “Loneliest road in America.”
Even though she didn’t really have any owners (in a sense most easily comprehensible to people) and was pretty much considered a stray, she still had a family and people who cared about her. And those people are now probably struggling to get used to the absence her death had caused.
It is extremely difficult to get used to the absence of a cat. Those little furry and oftentimes annoying creatures make our lives that much better. And Dirt was no exception.
Well, one thing is certain: Dirt will definitely never be forgotten! Nevada Northern Railway is planning to make a memorial – a bronze tombstone in the place Dirt chose to be her final resting spot. She made such an impact that the people of Nevada Railway believe this is the least they can do to honor her.
Dirt had been such a big part of that railway. Her spirit will surely forever linger in that area. And in the near future, the memorial statue will be physical evidence of the influence cats actually have on people’s lives.