August 15, 2006


Most folks are just like me when they visit Las Vegas...lazy. Once you arrive you don't want to worry yourself too much with additional plans or reservations, you just want to find that "World's Largest Souvenir Shop" and spend hours selecting gag gifts and a new desk clock with dice for numbers. Well, I've learned that vacation is better when you travel with someone like my friend Jason. While the rest of us were relaxing he didn't mind hunting down phone numbers, making maps and scheduling private tours. That's what you have to do if you want to get inside the YESCO Las Vegas neon sign graveyard, a dirt lot just a couple miles from the old Vegas strip which is home to dozens of historical signs that have been discarded for various reasons. You may recognize it from movies like Mars Attacks and National Lampoon's Vegas Vacation.

A search at Wikipedia revealed this.. Young Electric Sign Company (YESCO) is the oldest and largest producer of electric signs in Las Vegas, Nevada. YESCO has designed and produced many of the signs which have helped define the Las Vegas Strip. Their 'neon sign graveyard' stores signs from the city's past. Many of the signs are being restored and will be displayed in the neon museum.

We made our rendezvous with the tour guides outside a chain link fence over which giant eyes peeked back at us. I found it odd that the company would go out of their way to give tours, though they did require a minimum number of guests. (We didn't meet the minimum so some of us paid double.) An enthusiastic and knowledgeable young couple showed us the whole shebang of signs while filling our heads with back stories and answering our most ludicrous questions. Unfortunately, I can't remember much of their lecture but I thought I'd share a dozen of the snapshots I took during our unforgettable visit. They enlarge when you click 'em.

Who on earth would throw away a sign like this?

This would have been an awesome coincidence if my name were Pat Clark.

Dead signs DO wear plaid. Haw, haw, haw!

Unscrambling the letters almost reveals that this was once the Horseshoe Casino sign.

I'm pretty sure this is from the defunct Dead Leprechaun Casino.

You could still use these if you opened a place called Horn Pa In.

Does the chef's hat indicate that the Colonel actually got up from his white wicker chair for once and made a batch of chicken?

That's one thing you don't see a lot of.. Alpine Hobos.


I must admit that I take great joy in the fact that the stupid fools at the Treasure Island resort and casino decided to downplay the whole "pirate thing" in favor of a more sexed-up image mere months before the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie created a national swashbuckling craze. Pictured above is the skull that used to adorn their once-cool sign. They even changed the name from Treasure Island to the more sultry TI and they swapped the hourly pirate ship stunt show for the insulting Sirens of TI festival of bad innuendos (well, that's what I call it). I hope some group of marketing wizards lost their jobs.

I hope you enjoyed the photos. This post was brought to you in part by the letter...


AWG said...

Col. Sanders was a hard worker ... when he wasn't downing mint juleps and harassing the folks behind his "secret recipe of herbs and spices."

Famous Monster of Mpls said...

Interesting post Kirk. Why are these signs left lying around anyways? What are they saving them for? And if I were you, I'd change your name to Pat Clark and go back for the sign!

Best, Terry.
The Famous Monster of Mpls.

Kirk D. said...

AWG- My theroy= he spilled a mint julep on a pot of chicken and the secret recipe was born!

Terry- if I were a writer worth my salt I would have answered those questions in the original post. I hang my head in shame.

Your comment inspired me to update the post with answers to those questions and add some informative links.

Pat Clark

Scout said...

We seem to have a mutual friend in Jason Rovenstine. Nice signs.

chuckbaris said...

I enjoy these, though I would also like to see a post of the giant sign grave yard from wisconsin.

John Rozum said...

Great post, Kirk. I just finished putting up a post about finally encountering one of those strange bits of American pop culture, and now you've reminded me of another place I've always wanted to visit.

Don't throw away those contact numbers, I may want them one of these days.

RC said...

How cool is that, thanks so much for sharing these pictures and the experience...

it's pretty interesting and entertaining.

--RC of

Kirk D. said...

rob- I don't even want to know how you made the connection. I prefer to believe that mental powers were responsible.

chuck- that's actually a great idea. Itim have added it to my list of future posts.

rozum- I'll check out your post. I hope you make it to the graveyard someday.

rc- you're quite welcome. I took a look, and you have quite a fine and interesting blog over there.

Prather said...

KD: I worked with Yesco during my days at Disney. Those guys are amazing. I wish I could have had you come over to D-Land when I worked there. I had the full access as an imagineer and saw some really cool vintage Disneyland Items. Yesco built the Large entry sign as you enter the worlds largest parking structure at D-Land.

Flashfink! said...

I'm amazed by the amount of work that you put into your blog, although I'm guessing that to you it doesn't SEEM like work.

Bob Quinn said...

Hi there!
I am desparatley trying to find an image gallery of Topp's Monster Initials - they were an entire alphabet with monster pictures in the letters

If you find them - please post them - they freaked me out as a kid (they came out sometime in the early 70's)


- Bob

HarveyMidnight said...

Hokey Smoke... I used to live in Vegas a LOOOONG tme ago. I actually think I remember that Col Sanders chef-hat sign.

It's been thru so many changes, since I was there, though. The sign I remember most is, of course, the giant moving cowboy.

Jamey Clayberg said...

Hee haw, I hope those marketing goons lost their jobs simply because they ruined our last Vegas trip with their un-sexy de-pirating tricks! Argh! They should have walked the plank for that...

Kirk D. said...

Prather- you're a lucky buck. I would have loved to see that stuff.

flashfink- Thanks so much! Yeah, when the inspiration hits it's more fun than it is work, though I'm interested to know if I'll be as inspired six months from now. :) But knowing there's an audience, and getting nice encouragement (like yours) is a powerful motivator.

bob quinn- I know just the ones you're talking about and they're great. I don't have them, but I'll keep my eyes open for you.

harveymidnight- that's pretty cool! It makes me wonder if that KFC Chef sign was a 'vegas original' or what.

herva- T.I. stands for total imbeciles
haw! haw!

Flashfink! said...

This is for Bob Quinn: You asked for information about Topp's Monster Initials. Did you mean NUTTY INITIALS? If so, you can find them if you go to this site and scroll down:

Anonymous said...

just saw a report about it in german TV - n i'm glad that there is someone, who was there n shares his experiences :D

nice one

Kirk D. said...

Thank you anonymous, glad you like it, and thanks for taking time to comment!

glenn said...

Kirk, I just requested a tour of the graveyard, but didn't see any mention of the minimum number of guests. Do you remember what the minimum number was? I hope that number is 1!


Kirk D. said...


This was years ago, and I wasn't the one who made the arrangements but I THINK the minimum was ten. (but its really more of a minimum admission fee as opposed to visitors.)
I hope you get a tour!