When you first approach the real life Boulder City, you will be relieved to see it is not an indistinguishable pile of rubble. The people in Boulder City number more than just one, and they are very nice. Just be prepared for e n d l e s s “dam” jokes.
Boulder City is either at the beginning or end of each one of my excursions to the Mojave, simply because I always do a big loop and on times where I go counter-clockwise, it ends up being last, and vice versa. The good thing about it is that it has a lot of affording and nice airbnbs, cute retro motels, and delicious, not expensive food in the many mom and pop diners around the place. Oh and of course, it is the city that built the Hoover Dam, so everything is Hoover Dam themed or related, which for Fallout: New Vegas fans like me, is extra exciting!
# 112 – Boulder City
# 114 – 188 trading post
# 117 – Boulder Beach campground
# 203 – Big Horn Saloon
# 204 – Boulder City train station
# 264 – Boulder City memorial
# 331 – Boulder City ruins
# 437 – Great Khan hideout
# 112 – Boulder City – In our world and game world alike, Boulder City is the location that hosts the majestic Hoover Dam. In our world, I especially like that one of the welcome signs to the city looks like a cute little miniature Hoover Dam, and the downtown arch has a mini Winged Figures of the Republic statue. Even the street signs and road signs are little Hoover Dams.
I spent a great deal of time exploring Boulder City, and even though it is not a flashy location in the game, I found a lot of similarities and subtle details out here in our world. In the game, Boulder City is in and of itself, a casualty of the First Battle of Hoover Dam, being nearly wiped out during the battle. Thankfully in real life, it is more … un-wiped out. And it has a park filled with real life bighorners who look at you dismissively.
It seems like the vibe of this town is intentionally 1950’s, which I thought was pretty interesting and correlates, likely unintentionally, nicely to the game. The entire town had a sort of dated feel to it, but not necessarily in a bad way. I could tell that the developers had noticed the downtown area is comprised of buildings with arched walkways, because you can see them in the game as well.
# 203 – Big Horn Saloon – The archways of some of the downtown locations is actually what led me to the discovery of where this location used to be. The real life equivalent is the now closed Big Horn Restaurant, which sadly closed in 2013. A few more restaurants have been there since. It looks like the last establishment must have been closed recently, at least from peeking inside the window. I think the location is based on the in-game building that is across the street, simply due to the resemblance.
There is also a Big Horn Cafe in the Hoover Dam Lodge, which is similar in name only. Of note there is also Big Horn Park about one mile away on Boulder City Parkway. And I saw a place called Ike’s when I was in Freeside which reminded me of my good friend here, Ike.
Honorable mentions – I did my best to approximate the rest of the buildings based on finding this one using the game’s and real world’s map, as a scavenger hunt of sorts. These are all complete guesses, of course, and really was just a thing for me to do on an afternoon while I waited for it to be less hot outside.
Across the street from the Big Horn Saloon is this blown to hell building, which is maybe the Boulder Dam Hotel. I stayed in this hotel and can say it looks much nicer in real life than in-game. Plus it has a Hoover Dam museum that is free.
# 264 – Boulder City memorial – The most notable landmark here in game is the memorial to commemorate the NCR fallen at this battle. It is located on the west side of town in game. I can tell this is an inspiration because the real world Boulder City has an expansive veterans cemetery, complete with a memorial, albeit on the south side of town. Do not confuse it with Veterans’ Memorial Park, across Veterans Memorial Drive, like I did. I did not wear a vault jumpsuit here, or my hat for the entire time. I felt disrespectful with it on, but it was tough with the mid-day direct sun.
The cemetery is actually very large, with artificially sustained grass that really makes it stand out in contrast to the desert beyond. Almost poetically juxtaposed, the cemetery being the place that seems most vibrant and alive.
The two places that stood out to me that may have been inspiration are the war-specific monuments in the Memorial Garden section (pictured above), or the Committal Shelter and Columbarium Walls, across the grounds to the north. I circled the two areas on the map below.
Although I am here mainly for fun and the enjoyment of a video game, I had a somber time here, thinking of all those we have lost and paying respects to those who have sacrificed their lives. I could embark on a long soliloquy about how it is true that war never changes and draw real similarities addressing the human desire to create and sustain unending conflict. But I digress. I was glad to have found the location and spent some peaceful moments here.
# 204 – Boulder City train station – The real life equivalent to this location is likely the Nevada Southern Railroad Museum, which is a very cool place. You can check it out here. I especially enjoyed seeing the similarities in signs – our real world sign noting an elevation of 2475 and the in game slightly higher at 2500. The discrepancy is likely due to the barrage of C-4 that blew this town to the moon.
The trains are operational here, and you can take a ride in one for a small fee. The schedules are online and I remember them running two or three times a day on the weekends, which is when I hopped a ride!
Honorable mention – One fun fact I found is that on the train station sign it says “Home of the Eagles” – which turns out is the mascot and motto of the real world Boulder City High School. How cool is that?
# 331 / 437 – Boulder City ruins / Great Khan hideout – I can not help but think that this location, the area overall, was one that suffered from the game’s blink of an eye development cycle. The landscape reminded me of a ghost town I drove through a week ago or so, called Rhyolite, California. I will likely compare it to the landscape of South Vegas ruins as well.
# 117 – Boulder Beach campground – I found the real world Boulder Beach just north of Boulder City off of Lakeshore Road. This location in our world is in approximately the same location as its in-game counterpart and looks more or less the same. Keep in mind to get to this location, you have to pass through one of those checkpoints again, so get your pass ready to show to the rangers.
# 114 – 188 trading post – The real world equivalent of this location is called the Railroad Pass Travel Center. It is located at the (former) juncture of Highways 93 and 95, identically to the game, and serves as a main thoroughfare between the Boulder City area and the more centralized locations on the map. The travel center is atop an overpass as well. The junction is now located one mile away, but when the game was made, the two highways met here.
And you can still see the Lucky 38 from everywhere above the valley, in both the game and our world. A subtle reminder that Mr. House is watching. As opposed to Victor, the not-subtle reminder.