Dirt was born and raised in the East Ely Railroad engine house after his mum gave birth to her kittens inside the museum. But when mum and the other kittens left, Dirt was all alone. The museum crew started leaving out cans of tuna, and Dirt soon decided to make friends with the humans.
A name that sticks
The kitten started exploring his new home and loved climbing over the trains and rolling around on the coals piles. The coal dirt would stick to his long fur, and so the staff decided on the name “Dirt.” Eric Mencis is the manager of guest services and social media director of the railroad. He said:
“Dirt is actually an orange and white cat, but because at a young age he started rolling in the dirt and climbing on the trains, his white fur gets stained grey.”
Dirt became the railroad's mascot and proved to be a popular hit with tourists and visitors. He even fronted a social media campaign to encourage more people to visit the museum.
The railroad now welcomes around 30,000 visitors every year, which includes many hardcore Dirt fans. In fact, some travel from as far as 200 miles away to meet this grubby cat!
Dirt becomes a tourist attraction
“I am shocked that he has become famous as he has. I knew he would be popular but not this famous," said Eric. "We do offer Dirt Tshirts, magnets, key chains, coffee mugs, and even his own coffee, and I have mailed his items around the world for people who purchased them on our online store.”
Dirt is now 11 years old, but staff are sure he's got plenty of life left in him yet. We hope so too. After all, the Railroad wouldn't be the same without him!