Vault 34 and Cannibal Johnson Cave

Today I am going to dutifully explore a few locations in the northeast part of town, of which I am not quite sure how to get to ahead of time. I try to determine each route ahead of time, but some roads and paths are not marked, so it requires some adventuring!

Locations

# 37 – Durable Dunn’s sacked caravan
# 47 – Aerotech Office Park
# 357 – Aerotech suite 200
# 358 – Aerotech suite 300
# 359 – Aerotech tent
# 48 – Vault 34
# 49 – Cannibal Johnson’s cave

Location Details

# 37 – Durable Dunn’s sacked caravan – Thankfully, no unfortunate scene occurs in our world such as the fate bestowed upon Durable Dunn and his compatriot. In the real world, this location is interestingly a jail – the Las Vegas Detention Center. It is a massive complex bordering Highway 93. Most of the complex itself is behind a massive fence with the expected barbed wire accents, with the exception of a cozy bail window.

# 47 – Aerotech Office Park – This location took a lot of research to unearth, but was pretty interesting once I did (or my best guess, I should say). Merely geographically speaking, there is an unassuming law office located in this location, which has sort of a passing resemblance.

However, there used to be a company here called, you guessed it, Aerotech Components Inc. You can see the remnants of this online – I found the address in archived product information documents on ThomasNet, a supplier network website. Below are some screenshots, so it can live on in perpetuity in case any of these links break in the future. This company produced high powered model rockets and rocket fuel. Sound familiar?

Taking a trip down memory lane, I discovered that on October 15, 2001, Aerotech suffered a massive explosion in their manufacturing plant. The plant housed 2,500 pounds of ammonium percholate and 800 pounds of magnesium – the first of which also caused the PEPCON explosion (although PEPCON had stored way more – close to a whopping 4,000 tons). There was a public backlash, as this location was close to residential areas and the same chemical implicated in the PEPCON explosion was being manufactured and stored here, after the previous incident had already exposed the state to the risk of urban sprawl and heavy industry situated in once unpopulated areas.

I found an Aerotech Consumer Aerospace located in Utah which creates identical products. For some reason, I was determined to figure out if this was the same company, simply moving a state over after being found culpable for the explosion and losing a subsequent lawsuit.

Their website, aerotech-rocketry.com, is completely devoid of any of the names of previous owners or locations on their FAQ, history, or about us pages and nothing exists as far as websites go for the former company.

But their hubris led me to the crucial link I was seeking – in an archived newspaper from The Berkeley Daily Planet on October 16, 2001, the paper reported –

According to its Web site, AeroTech is the largest supplier of technically advanced rocket motors for the hobby rocket market. The company also produces rocket motors for the motion picture special effects industry that have been featured in films including “Star Trek: Generations” and “Tomorrow Never Dies.” 

And on the current Aerotech Rocketry website, it reads

AeroTech has been producing rocket motors for the motion picture special effects industry since the early 1980`s. AeroTech rocket motors have been featured in numerous motion pictures since then, and you can look for them in “Iron Eagle”, Delta Force 2″, “Tank Girl”, “Star Trek: Generations,” “Tomorrow Never Dies,” and “October Sky”.

Ah ha! Hook, line, and sinker! Although all of this is entirely inconsequential to the game. I suppose with the exception that the developers picked another location that had been involved in inspection dodging and hazardous chemical storage procedures leading to massive explosions and death, markedly with the same rocket fuel components. Even more salaciously, PEPCON also uprooted and moved to Utah after their incident, rebranding as WECCO (Western Electrochemical Company), and once again suffered an explosion due to lackluster safety precautions on July 30, 1997 – sadly ending the life of Daniel Baldeck, longtime maintenance supervisor and survivor of the PEPCON location explosion.

Included are the other locations here, including # 357 – Aerotech suite 200, # 358 – Aerotech suite 300, and # 359 – Aerotech tent, with similar amounts of tin cans found out in the wasteland reminding me of this place.

# 48 – Vault 34 – On the early draft New Vegas map, the vault correlates with Frenchman’s Mine, which is seen on the Nevada Bureau Mines list. This list includes the locations that either were planned for or were currently being turned into real world fallout shelters in the mid-century. It makes sense story wise, since it is directly bordering Nellis Air Force Base, most interestingly the “Weapons Storage Area” and “Ordinance Disposal Area” portions of Nellis. Also directly next to it is another location called John T. Moran Firearms Facility. I think it is very, very cool to find vault locations at the same locations as real life fallout shelters. It makes me wonder if the developers found the list I did at the museum? They must have …

# 49 – Cannibal Johnson’s cave – This area was full of cave looking portions of rock faces, contrasting bright red orange against an otherwise beige landscape. This location does not seem to have a name in real life, but there is a horse trail nearby called Rainbow Gardens. North of here there is a truck that looks a lot like the truck found outside of Cannibal Johnson’s Cave, thankfully with no toxic waste, but maybe in its heyday.


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