Searchlight (top) and the sole remaining NCR outpost (bottom)
During those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.”— Revelation 9:6, quoted on the sign outside the Searchlight chapel
Searchlight was originally founded as a gold mining town around 1897. The booming industry led to it becoming bigger than Las Vegas for a time, but as the veins ran dry, it shrunk. By 1917, the once booming mining industry that produced over $7 million in gold between 1907 and 1910 petered out. The town hung on by a thread, before its economy was boosted by Highway 95, making it a stopover point on the way to Las Vegas, and the tremendous expansion of Searchlight Airport. Searchlight was large enough by the Great War to support its own police and fire services, an elementary school, and two chapels.
The Great War would end this time of prosperity, but not before the bombs forced the Searchlight PD to divert a convoy carrying nuclear waste from San Onofre into Searchlight, so that the waste could be safely stored. Searchlight was not considered a target for the nuclear warheads, which meant the trucks could be parked at the Fire Station without exposing them to nuclear blasts that would turn the sealed, secure fuel casks transported on the flatbeds into massive dirty bombs.
The spent nuclear fuel rods remained there for over two centuries, with nobody trying to move them for fear of rupturing the casings. When the New California Republic deployed in force to the Mojave, Searchlight became a natural choice for a military base. It was large enough to quarter troops without a problem, while its strategic location, on top of Highway 95 and near the mouth of the valley leading down to Cottonwood Cove, allowed it to effectively control the south-eastern Mojave Wasteland. Camp Searchlight was established, becoming a major communications and logistics hub for the NCR Army. Naturally, this made it a natural target for the Legion. Vulpes Inculta devised a clever plan to remove the obstacle in Caesar's path. Rather than rely on martial might, he used subterfuge, using frumentarii to first intercept shipments meant for the Camp, depriving the troops of necessary supplies and stockpiling them for later use by the Legion. As the supply issues worsened, tensions emerged among the Camp's senior staff, and the frumentarii waited for an opening in the Camp's formidable defenses. The opportunity came soon, as the patrol routes were changed again for operational security reasons. As usual, gaps opened in the patrol routes as the troops had to get used to the new schedule.
Vulpes sent in a small group of legionaries, ordering them to infiltrate the fire station and unseal the nuclear fuel casks. As expected, this unleashed lethal levels of radiation on the Camp. The legionaries were killed instantly, while NCR troops were killed outright, turned into ghouls, or died soon after of radiation sickness. Only a handful of troops out on patrol escaped the grisly fate, rallying under First Sergeant Astor. In the meantime, the Legion did not sit idle. A task force under centurion Aurelius of Phoenix landed at Cottonwood Cove, establishing a beachhead on the western side of the Colorado and immediately launching raids on both the surviving NCR troops and especially supply and trade caravans heading up to New Vegas. Further legionary groups moved up north and west as time went by, targeting Nelson and Nipton to lay the groundwork for the Second Battle of Hoover Dam.
Searchlight surrounds Highway 95 on a north-south axis, and is in surprisingly good shape considering the devastation brought upon it by the Great War, two centuries of neglect, and the recent radioactivity release by the Legion, in a bit to loosen the NCR's hold on the south-eastern Mojave. The sole remaining NCR camp is located on the outskirts of the town to the north-east, staffed by what remains of the Searchlight garrison. Other signs of life are located in the basement of the ruined church in the western part of town, where Logan and a few other prospectors are busy preparing to loot the town on a contract from the Crimson Caravan. The terrified Private Edwards is hiding in a Searchlight home near the church.
The streets of the town and much of the surrounding environs are prowling with feral ghouls bearing NCR colors. They include regular ferals, glowing ones, and a few who managed to retain their motor skills who move and attack like normal humans, but only with combat knives, having lost the ability to operate firearms (they do make excellent sources of medium armor for Jury Rigging). They are most common in the center and to the northeast, where the Camp's command was located (at the former Searchlight police station) and the trucks used to set up the base were parked. The Searchlight fire station (Searchlight Fire & Rescue Station No. 1) is in the heart of town and contains the pre-War transport of spent fuel rods that was used to turn the entire area into an irradiated hellhole. The station is locked, with keys carried by Logan. Entering it will prompt a swift response from the radscorpion queen and several radscorpions that set up nest there. To the south is the Searchlight elementary school with another ruined church. The school is "attended" by several golden geckos, who enjoy the warmth of the town's radiation. Further out is the trailer park that served the inhabitants of the town.
The NCR set up a network of defensive turrets to protect the perimeter, with terminals placed in cover nearby. The turrets are found near the police station, behind the fire station and ont he intersection just south of it, and under the Cottonwood Cove Road bridge passing over Highway 95.
- Chinese Army: Special Ops Training Manual, 2 mini nukes or 3 Holy Frag Grenades ( Wild Wasteland): In the east chapel's basement.
- Knock-Knock: Unique fire axe found in the rightmost bathroom stall upstairs.
- Sunset Sarsaparilla star bottle cap:Upstairs in the kitchen area, by the empty bottles.
- Wheel of Fortune: Logan needs assistance in looting the town. The player is on hand.
- We Will All Go Together: First Sergeant Astor asks the player to collect dog tags from the ghoulified troopers.
- Eye for an Eye: The player can retaliate against the Legion garrison set up at Cottonwood Cove in the wake of the town's fall.
- "REVELATION 9:6" is printed on the board outside of the Church of Searchlight, with the "L" being an upside down "T". The usage of the verse would seem to be a reference to the ghouls and feral ghouls that, although irradiated to the point where any living thing might be expected to die, still continue to live out their tortured existence.
- Camp Searchlight has the highest level of rads in one place, parts of the Firehouse garage have rad levels of 9-10 per second. Most of the upper level of the firehouse has 9-10 rads per second as well.
- The ghoul troopers here are an excellent source of Medium armor if you have the perk.
- Strangely, Searchlight fire trucks appears in Lonesome Road
Behind the scenes
- Searchlight is a real-life location in southern Clark County, NV. It has a population of around 600 and is located 50 miles south of Las Vegas and about 20 miles east of Nipton.
- Searchlight was implemented and written by Denise McMurry, based on a concept outlined by J.E. Sawyer.
- A huge number of enemies have been disabled in this area, as well as lots of the turrets in the town. On the outskirts there are also abandoned farmsteads full of decaying Bighorners. Every single one of these is disabled in the final game.
- If the player repairs the radiation suits found at the hidden supply cave, the scripts for the Wheel of Fortune will fail.
- Fallout: New Vegas Two Firetrucks, both stationed behind the Camp Searchlight Fire Station, don't have full developed physical properties. The Back end of each the trucks have no physical properties what so ever (you can walk straight through them) however the Front cab on both trucks are like any other vehicle within
Camp Searchlight appears only in Fallout: New Vegas.
- Real story and town appearance; the expansion of the airport is evident.
- Camp Searchlight terminals; Chief Fire Officer Terminal, Chief Fire Officer Report No. F1-218: "The local police department diverted several trucks from San Onofre carrying nuclear waste to Searchlight this morning. I didn't get all of the details but I heard something about bombs going off nearby and that the trucks were being diverted for safety reasons. Two of them were housed here at the Fire Station. The third had to continue on to somewhere else because we didn't have enough room to accommodate them all. For some odd reason it was headed toward Cottonwood Cove. I don't know what he's planning on doing with it down there."
- Camp Searchlight terminals; NCR Storage Database, Log Entry #1836: "Log Entry #1836
Camp Searchlight Quartermaster's Log
Supplies being shipped to the camp recently are lower than usual. I asked the Comm Officer if there were any problems with communications and he insisted that everything was fine. I contacted our supply base and was simply told that all inventory requests were being filled and that every item on my request list had been shipped to the camp. Either I'm being lied to or someone is intercepting my shipments. I'll have to look into this matter further."
- Camp Searchlight terminals; NCR Storage Database, Log Entry #2257: "Camp Searchlight Quartermaster's Log
During my off duty hours I decided to investigate the trade route being used to bring the supplies to the camp. I met a traveler on the road and asked him if he had seen any NCR supplies bound for Camp Searchlight. He told me he had seen some NCR crates being moved somewhere outside of Nipton but didn't know where they were being taken. He also mentioned that the men with the supplies didn't look like NCR soldiers. Next time I have enough time off I'll have to make my way to Nipton to see if anyone there knows where the supplies are."
- Camp Searchlight terminals; NCR Communications Terminal, Communications Entry #842: "Camp Searchlight Comm Officer's Log
The Quartermaster has been bitching to me again about missing supplies and bad communications. I keep telling him that nothing is wrong with the comm system and that his numbers must be off. I don't think he believes me. The bastard will probably keep bugging me until I can either prove he's wrong or find someone else to blame. Damn it I hate this shit."
- Camp Searchlight terminals; NCR Communications Terminal, Communications Entry #923: "Camp Searchlight Comm Officer's Log
A radscorpion made it into the camp last night. Some of the troopers patrolling the border are getting sloppy. The only reason anyone noticed it was because several of the comm stations were acting oddly. When the trooper on duty went outside to check the transmitter dishes he found the scorpion chewing on several of the cables. What's the point of having patrols if shit like this is going to keep happening?"
- Camp Searchlight terminals; NCR Communications Terminal, Communications Entry #937: "Camp Searchlight Comm Officer's Log
After the radscorpion incident the night patrols were shifted again. This is the third time in the past month. I don't think they realize the problem isn't the patrols it's the troops. Every time their patrols get shifted they get confused and holes open up in the rotations for two or three days until they're used to the new schedules. I really hope the Legion doesn't figure it out and take advan...
SUDDEN TEMPERATURE INCREASE. EMERGENCY SHUTDOWN INITIATED."
- Fallout: New Vegas Official Game Guide Collector's Edition p.421-422: "[6.16] Camp Searchlight
As an unfortunate twist of fate would have it, a convoy of flatbed trucks transporting nuclear waste from San Onofre was passing through Searchlight when the Great War broke out. Local police directed the drivers to temporarily park their vehicles in the fire department, but no one ever came back to retrieve them. There they sat in their extremely sturdy solid steel spent fuel flasks for over 200 years. The NCR recently set up a sizable base here; but this was a major obstacle for Caesar's Legion due to its size and clear view of the surrounding desert. When it became obvious that a direct assault would not prove fruitful, Vulpes Inculta sent in some spies to learn more about the situation. After he learned about the radioactive waste being stored in the fire station, he ordered some unwitting legionaries to open the containers. Though the legionaries died almost instantly, the sacrifice produced a massive wave of death and ghoulification among NCR troops that effectively destroyed Camp Searchlight as a viable military base.
There's a skeleton of a long-dead fireman in one of the stalls, and an extra-special Fireaxe!"
(Fallout: New Vegas Official Game Guide Collector's Edition Tour of the Mojave Wasteland)
- The Courier: "What happened at Searchlight?"
Hanlon: "Searchlight was worse. One of Caesar's frumentarii must have found something in there, flooded the whole camp with radiation."
- The Courier: "How did you survive?"
Astor: "I was out on patrol at the time so I wasn't in the camp when it happened. There were a few others with me after it happened, including some of my superiors. Between radiation poisoning and attacks by the Legion they all died out."
- The Courier: "You must be the one in charge here."
Aurelius of Phoenix: "Of course I am, you fool. I am a Centurion! When Vulpes Inculta drove the NCR from Searchlight by clever means, Caesar himself ordered me to set up this camp and harass the Profligates! It's a modest presence, a single finger of the Legion reaching across the river's narrows. But with me here, it has an iron knuckle."
(Aurelius of Phoenix's dialogue)