Boulder City's Lost Airport

Once known as the "biggest airport in the West", very little remains of the Boulder City Airport today.

Historic Boulder City Airport in Southern Nevada

After exploring the Boulder City Pet Cemetery on the outskirts of town, I made my way into the city to check out several other abandoned places. First on the list was the original Boulder City Airport.

It opened in November 1933 as Bullock Airport, named after Noel Bullock, who leased the land from the Bureau of Reclamation. Originally a private airstrip with no hangar, it served as the base of operations for Bullock's charter service and sightseeing tour business.

Boulder City Airport in Southern Nevada
Flyer for Bullock Airport (source: http://www.airfields-freeman.com)

Bullock died about a year later, in December of 1934, when his plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean while carrying passengers from Mazatlan to La Paz, Mexico.

In 1936 a primitive terminal building was added to the property and Grand Canyon Airlines became first commercial airline to operate out of the airport. Unfortunately the airline failed to achieve financial viability. In 1938 TWA leased the airport and a new terminal with upgraded amenities was built.

Historic Boulder City Airport in Southern Nevada
Opening of the TWA terminal in April 1938 (source: http://www.airfields-freeman.com)

The Boulder City Airport became an important transportation hub for tourists visiting Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Hoover Dam, Las Vegas, and the Grand Canyon. For a time, it was known as "the biggest airport in the West." 

During World War II, civilian flights were limited and the airport was primarily used for military planes. The opening of McCarran airport in Las Vegas caused a considerable decrease in the number of civilian flights into Boulder City.

Boulder City Airport in Southern Nevada

TWA ceased operating out of Bullock's Field in 1949 when the airport was condemned by the CAA.

In 1958, Boulder City Elks Club bought the main terminal building and transformed it into their club house. It is still used for that purpose today.

Boulder City Airport reopened under city control in 1961 after renovations were made.

Historic Boulder City Airport in Southern Nevada
Aerial view of Boulder City Airport in 1962 (source: http://www.airfields-freeman.com)

The airport property shrunk over the years, decreasing from 3 runways to only 1 by 1980.

Construction began on the new Boulder City Municipal Airport in the 1980s. Its opening in 1990 coincided with the closure of the historic Boulder City Airport.

Very little remains of the original Boulder City Airport today. In the below satellite image, you can see the footprints of several small structures as well as the only remaining hangar building in the upper left corner.

Boulder City Airport in Southern Nevada
Recent satellite image of the old Boulder City Airport

At the time of my visit, the terminal building used by the navy in WWII was the only major airport structure still standing. The other buildings have been demolished or repurposed.

Historic Boulder City Airport in Southern Nevada
Jim Sullivan in front of the remaining terminal building at the historic Boulder City Airport
The terminal building is well-secured and the inside is inaccessible to the public.

Boulder City Airport in Southern Nevada

Beside the door, a plaque honors the restoration efforts of Paul Fisher, who is best known for having invented the Space Pen (which served as an important plot device in an episode of Seinfeld).

Historic Boulder City Airport in Southern Nevada

Aside from the terminal building, the only remaining traces of the airport are a shabby little boarded-up building

Boulder City Airport in Southern Nevada

Historic Boulder City Airport in Southern Nevada

and few sections of concrete from the runway.

Boulder City Airport in Southern Nevada

Historic Boulder City Airport in Southern Nevada

After my quick visit to the old Boulder City Airport, I headed into town to check out the abandoned Boulder City Hospital.

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Boulder City Airport in Southern Nevada


7 comments :

  1. Ha--love the selfie!

    Very hard to imagine that as the "biggest airport" out that way. Very interesting stuff, kiddo. Have a great week

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    Replies
    1. Thank you. I like to throw in a selfie once in a great while just for fun :)

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  2. A little bit of entertainment news about this building:
    It was featured in a video for the music group, The Killers. The name of the song was called "Spaceman".

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    Replies
    1. Awesome! I had no idea. Just watched the video :)

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  3. To add more to your story. The hangar is owned by the Fisher estate. Paul was going to turn it into a space camp for children. If you had made it to the Elks lodge you would have been in the main terminal of the field where TWA had their operations. Inside the Elks lodge is excellent memorabilia of the past history.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the info! It's a shame the space camp never happened. Kids would have loved it.

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  4. This would make for a fantastic brewery location! :) Just sayin. I've explored this area too. Over by the fire station you can see the old traffic pattern indicator that pilots could see from the sky to know how to fly in and land if they were unfamiliar with the airport.

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