The area around where Novac and Gibson scrap yard would exist in our world is a long stretch of semi barren wasteland, peppered with massive transmission towers and those weird dust tornadoes on the west side of Highway 95. In my game, the location also included like half a dozen Jeannie May Crawfords.
# 126 / 397 – Gibson scrap yard / shack
# 127 – Southern Nevada Wind Farm
# 129 – Novac
# 132 – Abandoned BoS bunker
# 374 – Dinky the T-Rex
# 375 / 386 – Cliff Briscoe / Ranger Andy bungalows
# 376 – Dino Bite gift shop
# 377 / 380 / 379 – Dino Dee-lite Motel / motel room / front desk
# 378 / 381 – Boone / Manny rooms
# 382 – 385 – Jeannie May Crawford / McBride / No-Bark / Novac houses
# 126 / 397 – Gibson scrap yard / shack – Not wanting to tread old ground, but I really do think that the Nelson ghost town had a strong influence on this in game location. Not only in general geographical whereabouts, but the look and feel of the layout overall. The ghost town area is a cacophony of old, broken down and rusted car hulls, piles of tires, tools and scrap piled high in abandoned shacks. I can just imagine Old Lady Gibson sitting there, being helpful as usual with her pups standing around, really wide eyed and panting at me.
Of note there is an “Old Gibson Road” and a neighborhood called “Gibson Springs” in southeast Vegas. There are two other locations I visited, farther west in California, that reminded me of the Gibson Strap Yard – one was an art installation by Noah Purifoy and one was an abandoned gas station (I think).
# 127 – Southern Nevada Wind Farm – When I was in Searchlight, I asked the gas station attendant – the one not crazy person I met there – if the area had any wind turbines and she told me that surprisingly no, the area is pretty poor generator of wind. I found this to be quite bizarre, given how wind seemed to be constantly whipping me around for the entirety of every journey thus far. She told me Nevada only has one wind farm, way north of here. It is called Spring Valley Wind Farm, in Ely, Nevada. She also told me that there was a proposal for a wind farm closer, just south of here, but she thought they had scrapped the plans for good a few years back (and she was right).
I have not yet driven to the wind farm in real life, it is located a significant 300+ miles away, about five hours of driving. Being the only wind farm in Nevada, perhaps it was the inspiration. Or maybe the plans for the Searchlight wind farm project was the inspiration, it having not been tabled yet while the game was in development. It is called Spring Valley Wind Farm.
# 129 – Novac – In the game, Novac can be found at the intersection of Highway 95 and Nevada 165, but this intersection in our world is north of HELIOS One. If you head south, the next named highway is Nevada 164, which intersects at Searchlight. So there seems to be a road missing in between.
Please see below for my very professional rendition. I was going to redo it when I started writing this guide, but the version I drew in the car is kind of endearing (and started a theme throughout the rest of the guide of equally crap drawings that I am sure you have noticed).
The road that is between Nevada 164 / Searchlight and Nevada 165 / HELIOS One is … “unnamed road” … (thanks a lot, Nevada). It is located at Highway 95’s mile marker 31. The road leads to the real world location Delphi Village, or Delphi amphitheater, east of the highway as opposed to west.
I really could not make sense of what this location actually is in real life. It looks to be privately owned land that has been previously used for small scale festivals or meet ups, with future plans for a multitude of developments that never came to fruition. There are no permanent structures currently and only contains a few scattered items. The corporation that purchased the land appears to have had it’s business charter revoked by the State of Nevada in 2018, presumably ending the initiative to create a sort of off the grid, ecologically friendly, festival destination resort town utopia (?)
Although I know the way the name of Novac came about was the burned out “no vacancy” sign outside of the motel. But in Ballarat, far west of here, I found out that there is a person who lives there – the only person who lives there – named Rocky Novak. There is a canyon beyond and in order to traverse it, you have to walk on Rocky Novak’s land. He does not mind as long as you stop by his house (the general store) and say hello, or if he is not there, legend says leaving some soda or other offering on the step will grant you safe passage through his lands.
There is also a Novak Street in the very, very northeastern corner of North Las Vegas. I know that it is not related to Novac the city, but was an interesting coincidence.
# 374 – Dinky the T-Rex – The part of Novac that is the most iconic is the enormous dinosaur, which I believe is based on the Shan-Gri-La Prehistoric Park, a museum and park at the home of Steve “Dinoman” Springer, a retired school teacher. You can find it at 733 Greenway Road in Henderson, Nevada. Dinoman Steve established the park in 2006, and enjoys teaching visitors about prehistoric creatures and events, while showing the relationship to what is presently occurring in our world. The park is home to 57 dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures, not for profit, self guided, wholesome, and totally free! You can visit the website here and learn all about it. He is super nice and I highly recommend going there. He even has a dino themed car. It is really wholesome meeting a guy who dedicates his whole life to educating people, even after retirement, in such a unique and exciting way.
Also if you look very closely, you can see either Boone or Manny waving hello and not dying of being eaten by a dinosaur.
The other likely inspiration is Claude Bell’s dinos in Cabazon, California. He was an artist and ardent believer in evolution, as seen in many murals around the place. Unfortunately, upon his death it was sold to a creationist group that supports the opposite of Claude’s beliefs, and the rest of the educated world’s beliefs. One of the statues here, the first one built, is named Diny (pronounced di-ney), instead of Dinky. But it is not the T-rex, it is the brontosaurus. If you swing down to Lucerne Valley, as I usually do when I am in the Mojave, you are only about a half an hour from these statues.
# 376 – Dino Bite gift shop – The thermometer is likely inspired by the World’s Tallest Thermometer, located west in Baker, California. It is to mark the world record for temperature, set here in 1913 – 134 degrees F / 57 degrees C. Every time I come here, I always hope it is not 134 degrees. You can see very closely that the in game version says 2nd tallest thermometer – nice. The Baker location is atop a gift shop, too. A nice lady runs it and she will make sure you sign the guest book, trust me. I like the snap koozies and thermometer keychains they have here, all of my friends have them now.
Honorable mentions – I saw a dinosaur in Boulder City that looked as if they were disapproving of me, and a sign in Freeside that reminded me of Novac, but with extra letters.
Locations included here are where in-game equivalents would be, including # 375 / 386 – Cliff Briscoe / Ranger Andy bungalows, # 377 / 380 / 379 – Dino Dee-lite Motel / motel room / front desk (there was only one motel in Baker and it was called “Santa Fe” or something non-related), # 378 / 381 – Boone / Manny rooms, and # 382 – 385 – Jeannie May Crawford / McBride / No-Bark / Novac houses.
# 132 – Abandoned BoS bunker – In our world, the Abandoned Brotherhood of Steel bunker (BoS) is in the same general spot as the El Dorado Mine, if not less than a mile down the road. In game, the road does not reach all the way to the Colorado River, just like in real life. I found a manhole cover when I was hiking off the Nevada 165, to the northwest of the mine. I didn’t try to get in and go to the Sierra Madre, though. Maybe next time.