Close [X]


Aug 31st - Sept 7th


The Early Years



Burning Man 1989 -1995
Man stands on ground

  • Head: Blue neon outline
  • Body: Blue inside front
  • Horizontal neon ribs
  • Red neon arches on ground
  • Gap in neon on Man thighs just below hips
  • Curved underside wood
  • Sunday Burn

The first year of Burning Man on the Black Rock Desert was a small and intimate affair, but by 1992, I realized that there was an increasing need for a specialized group of seasoned burners who could navigate the desert, locate lost campers and bring them safely back to the community encampment.

We took the name "Rangers", a term which predates American Revolutionary War when civilian volunteers "ranged" the frontier line of farms and homesteads primarily to protect settlers.

The role of the Rangers has changed and grown at the same time, but the original purpose still holds true; Helping lost souls. And being a Ranger has become an art.

Danger Ranger – The Black Rock Rangers – Part 1 (Origins)
Before Burning Man came to the playa, NV Route 34 was Route 11. This early photo shows the 34 sign which covered the original 11 sign just west of Gerlach. image courtesy Danger Ranger.
Danger Ranger produces the first Black Rock Gazette
The Black Rock Gazette, issue 1, 9/5/92 11:11 AM
"FUN AT BLACK ROCK STATION Volunteers are needed to work a shift at the Black RockStationand help direct people to our camp. After travelling many hours to get here, the outpost is a welcome sight to all those making the pilgrimage. See Nancy at the Rider rental truck. We'd like to thank FLASH for providing the mobile check point."
1992 events included
  • Initial Raising * ALL *
  • Pottery Making - Serena De La Hey
  • Pyroman - Kimmerick Smythe
  • Concert for Car Horns & Lights - Richard Marriot
  • Semi-formal cocktail party - Anyone interested
  • Erection of the man * ALL *

Thanks to Michael Mikel, perhaps the most significant innovation came along in 1992 — officers of the peace. He and Rob Schmidt began acting as a committee of civic heroes, the Black Rock Rangers, emulating the legendary Texas Rangers.

They mostly patrolled the wild borders surrounding their fragile civilization and rescued people who had fallen victim to the real hazards of the playa, particularly getting lost in its trackless vastness or mired in the often mucky and impassable edges. If you were out on the open playa on your own and your car stopped working, or got stuck, or you got lost, you were probably dead unless someone like a Black Rock Ranger found you.

Brian Doherty — This is Burning Man

The 1992 Site Plan shows 100 yards to the Man from a Camp that is 630 ft wide
  • Burning Man is transformed into the Black Rock Arts Festival.
  • Burning Man culture expands to include a fashion show, an art festival, and an "Exploding Man" (Kimric Smythe).
  • Danger Ranger founds the Black Rock Rangers.
  • Java Cow first appears on the playa.
  • Danger Ranger edits and prints the first edition of the Black Rock Gazette.
  • Burning Man is loaded with fireworks that create a spectacular crown that hovers over the flaming statue.
  • The first Donner Award is given to a pilot who manages to land his Cessna upside down just south of camp.
Theme Camps and Notable City Destinations:
  • Straw figures by Serena delaHay
  • Labyrinth/talking rock oracle by Dean G.
  • Elvis camp
  • Shantytown camp
  • LA Cacophony clown heads/fireworks/skulls
  • Desert Shower
  • Rev Al of LA Cacophony wears tire mid-waist with burning flares.
  • Bill Binzen wood frame structure in center camp.