An interview with Nevada Northern Railway Museum's Dirt the Cat

Posted by Jim Wrinn
on Wednesday, April 1, 2020

On Wednesday, we followed up with a promise to Dirt the Cat, shop feline and spokescat for the Nevada Northern Railway Museum in East Ely, Nev., to conduct a formal interview with him after our live ambush journalism interview was carried on the Trains Facebook page March 7. Our thanks to Dirt for the interview and to the Nevada Northern Railway Museum's Eric Mencis for interpreting and transcribing on behalf of Dirt. - Jim 

Q. Dirt, thanks for agreeing to do this interview. How are you doing during this crisis? What’s going on at your world headquarters at the Nevada Northern Railway Museum?


Meow, things are going well here, even with the Coronavirus happening all over the world. Our staff are being responsible and keeping in good health but also still working and getting project done behind the scenes, thanks to donations and memberships to the museum still coming in.


Q. Are you good with your name or would you prefer something else?


Meow, my name fits me well, it was born in this engine house, and I crawl around climb on the trains. I was orange and white at one time but now the white is gray and I would not have it any other way


Q. How big is your following?


Meow, well the railway has over 100,000 followers on its social media pages, I hear my following extends past that and could perhaps be in the millions. People around the world keep up with me and what I order my crews to do around the shop here.


Q. What’s your daily routine? Has it changed since coronavirus?\ 

Meow, Well I have my own comfy bed in a corner of the machine shop, I get up, eat some of the dry food they leave out for me at night. As our crews arrive I climb out of my sleeping area and go order them to pet me before they start working, sometimes I have to rub against their legs to get their attention. After some ear scratches and pets, I go on my inspection tour. Usually the checkout everyone’s favorite locomotive first, #40. Then I move onto locomotive 93 and the steam crane. I usually climb up on the crane’s tool car, crawl under the decking and take a nap under the floor in one of the storage areas. After a few hours napping there I then do my inspections around our diesels, have to make sure those old Alcos keep puttering down the tracks and make my way to our blacksmith shop. Now the blacksmith shop has a dirt and cinder floor I love to roll around in and keep myself dirty. This keeps bugs away from me in the summer. Then I move on to my old bobber caboose stored in a back corner of the engine house, more cat naps. Usually after a little nap, I hear a tour coming thought and I know my people await. They come just to see me you know, Meow. I walk from my caboose, doing my proud I am the boss kitty here walk, sit down in the center of the tour group, look up and pose for pictures and let all pet me! Our crews usually go to lunch as tours come along, so after the tour pets, I have to go tell them to get back to work, this involves more pets and ear scratches. Then I grow crawl under one of our machine shop machines and nap again, as long as the crews don’t need it. The afternoon continues, as visitors come in, I go greet them, make sure they pet me for passage through my shop and then I craw in a pit under one of the locomotives and nap some more. It’s a hard life for a shop cat but someone has to do it. 


The Virus hasn’t change my routine much, for the time being we are just not giving tours. I miss my fans visiting


Q. In the shop, where you live, do you have a favorite locomotive?

Meow, I like to hang around locomotive 40 but I ave to make sure all the locomotives are in tip top shape. The steam crane tool car, or the rotary snowplow are the best place for naps and exploring adventures.


Q. Any mice living there? Meow not on my watch

Q. You’re a well know railway cat. How has that changed your life?

Meow, more fans come here now knowing my name before they walk in, and people have rerouted their entire trips to just come see me in the shop and hang out, because they took all that time to visit me, they spend the time to ride the train too.


Q. There are a lot of other railway cats out there. Do you communicate with each other? What advice do you give them?


Meow, I keep track with other cats on their social media pages. My favorite shop cat friend has to be Turbo at the Naugatuck Railway. He is one cool Cat.


Q. The C&O once used Chessie as its spokescat… what are your feelings on Chessie?


Meow, Chessie was one cool cat, a clean cat compared to me but cool. People said I am the modern day version of him!


Q. What’s your favorite part of being a railway cat?


Meow, I have this entire engine house to work and climb around. The building is huge and we can fit over 12 locomotives or pieces of rolling stock in here. It’s the biggest cat climbing jungle in the world.


Q. What’s your least favorite?

Meow, don’t think I have a least favorite part. I have everything a cat could need.


Q. What’s the best way for people to support you and the railway?


Meow, well we are non-profit museum, and running a railroad is no cheap task. We welcome any donations we get, but we also have a membership drive program, that allows you to not only support the museum, but you also get benefits on train tickets and merchandize, like my very own brand line of merchandize. We our gift shop and on our online store, you can find Dirt T-shirts, Coffee Mugs, and even Coffee! Every purchase supports the museum and also keep some money set aside for my visits to the vet and anything else I need. Following our Facebook page my searching Nevada Northern Railway is helpful and sharing my adventures as well is always a way of supporting us. It is Social Media of course, so get to work and be social!


Q. Any last words for the public?


Meow, Just want to say thank you to all my fans out there for all the love and attention you give me, it makes this cool cat happy to know I bring joy to millions of people around the world. Now get out there and get to work planning a trip to Ely to visit me. This Virus won’t last forever and we can get out and enjoy the railway together!



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