Travel photography – The Neon Boneyard

Paris is known historically as “the city of lights” but I think in modern times we could consider Las Vegas to be the “light” capital of the world. It has been said that the beam of light from the Luxor Hotel on the Vegas strip can be seen from Space.

A few years ago when planning a trip to Vegas with my parents I wanted to do somethingvegas3 special with them and read about this great place where they house all the old Vegas signs after they are taken down. To the point it is called the Neon Museum Boneyard.

It is open to the public for guided tours only. They only operate a couple of tours daily and you need to book in advance as they sell out.

Our guide on the day we went was a young lady who was studying at the University in Las Vegas. Her major was Nevada history. She explained that the tour guides were volunteers and you could tell her passion for the signs and their history.

The museum is laid out very strategically in a chronological path and order. The guide LASexplained the history of Nevada and how Las Vegas came to be. That the city was established in 1905 and that is where the tour starts, at this sign in the image to the left. The one hour tour is a nostalgic, historic tour of Las Vegas, or self proclaimed Entertainment Capital of the world, or even Sin City.

You weave your way through time in the boneyard, learning about the way the signs wereNeon Boneyard put up, the kinds of light bulbs that were being used at the time. How there were posts that were attached to the signs, because before cherry pickers and large full scale equipment, workers had to climb up and change the light bulbs by hand.

Not all the signs were from hotels that are no longer there. There were several different GNsigns from the Golden Nugget. The guide explained that there is constant upgrading going on in every aspect of the evolution of Las Vegas. I was just reading an article that about the city trying to be more ‘green’ and spending millions of dollars converting lights to LED for less energy consumption.

You have some time to look around as the tour is going on, but for someone who really loves photography, it isn’t enough time. Because of the safety concerns (sharp metal, broken and exposed glass) they don’t let you roam around on your own too much. I would go back again, as I am sure that they change the exhibits as new signs come in and as they want to bring others to the front of the displays.

For someone that has been to Las Vegas many times (I think 19 at last count) it is always a great thing to be able to see and do something you haven’t done before. There is one thing that I haven’t done yet, and I would like to try one day – that is going to a shooting range. I don’t know, maybe someday, with the right person I would do it.

The next time you are planning a trip to Las Vegas, I would highly recommend that you add this to your list of shows, restaurants, shopping, etc. It is only and hour and it will be well worth your time spent!


The original skeleton from the Treasure Island hotel