LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nevada’s Northern Railroad Historical Museum is mourning the death of its cat, which became an unlikely Internet sensation.
Dirt – short for Dirtbag – died in Ely on Wednesday aged 15, the railway said her website.
The semi-feral cat was a fixture at the Las Vegas Review-Journal museum reported. His online fame, stemming from a Facebook photo an employee posted five years ago, led to the creation of Dirt merchandise including keychains, T-shirts, mugs and even his own coffee blend.
The museum, which is 240 miles (386 kilometers) north of Las Vegas, was free to come and go. He was born in the railroad’s engine room, railroad president Mark Bassett said. His name came from his orange and white coat, which was always stained with dirt and grease and from nasty baths.
When Dirt’s pictures first hit the internet, social media treated the cat less like dirt and more like a dignitary.
“We had a family fly from China to LA to Las Vegas, rent a car and drive to Ely to see Dirt,” Bassett told the paper. “And it’s like, ‘It’s a cat! It’s not exposed.'”
The museum is known for offering train rides pulled by century-old steam engines and tours of the engine room and engine room. Bassett said Dirt always came out during the tour to the delight of visitors who wanted his picture.
He said the cat has undoubtedly increased traffic.
The museum plans to honor Dirt with a funeral service and two bronze statues, Bassett said.
Meanwhile, Dirt Jr. – or DJ – another rescue cat, still living in the museum.
Copyright 2023 Associated Press. All rights reserved.