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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nevada’s Northern Railroad Historical Museum is mourning the death of its resident cat who became an unlikely Internet sensation.

Dirt, short for Dirtbag, died Wednesday in Ely at the age of 15, according to the railroad’s website.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that the half-stealth kitten was the main object of the museum. His online fame, stemming from a photo a Facebook employee posted five years ago, has led to Dirt merchandise including key chains, T-shirts, mugs and even his own coffee blend.

At the museum, located 240 miles (386 kilometers) north of Las Vegas, dirt could come and go for free. He was born in a railroad engine house, railroad president Mark Bassett said. His name came from his orange and white coat, which was always stained with dirt and grease, as well as from nasty baths.

When Dirt’s pictures first appeared online, social media treated the cat less as dirt and more as a respectable human being.

“We flew as a family from China to Los Angeles to Las Vegas, rented a car and drove to Eli to see Dirt,” Bassett told the paper. “And it’s like, ‘He’s a cat.’ He is not shown.’

The museum is known for offering train rides on century-old steam locomotives and tours of the engine house and engine house. Bassett said Dirt always came out on tour to the delight of visitors who wanted his picture.

She said the cat has definitely increased attendance.

The museum plans to honor the dirt with a memorial service and two bronze statues, Bassett said.

Meanwhile, Dirt Jr., or DJ, another rescue cat still lives at the museum.


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