We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for an important announcement: It’s time to mix it up!
The original plan for this blog was to post the details of our trips as they happened. After three plus years of travel it’s clear that’s not happening. We never slow down, I can’t keep up and some really great explorations are being left behind. From now on, it’s a free for all, I’ll be posting adventures past and present.
This is a trip from July, 2016. We planned to travel north on Highway 93 from Las Vegas. This stop was in Ely, Nevada. The Nevada Northern Railway Museum.
All information regarding this attraction is still valid.
There is very little in the way of accommodations for RV’s in the area. We stayed at the KOA Journey and found it to be clean, well run and friendly, though crowded.
The Nevada Northern Railway is a registered National Historic Landmark. It consists of the original railway locomotives, rolling stock, track, passenger station and buildings that served the historic copper mining region of Central Nevada for over a century.
There is a lot to do at the Railway Museum. You can…
Take a 90 minute train ride on a historic locomotive. Walk through the maintenance shops and train yard. Tour the original train station, now a museum. Partake in special events such as evening train rides. Be the conductor and drive the train. Sign up for a Railroad Reality week for a full immersion experience. And more!
The Nevada Northern Railway Museum is considered to be the best preserved and most original example of an American Railroad facility and it is huge! We arrived shortly after the 8 AM opening and after looking around the facility, we realized we’d have to break the visit into two days. Tickets for the train ride are timed and we didn’t want to have our explorations rushed. Today we purchased a ticket to tour the rail yard and the station museum.
Stepping outside, the tracks run off into the distance.
The train pulls up right outside the ticket office and we stopped to watch as passengers disembarked.
Locomotive number 40, shown above, is the Official State Locomotive of Nevada. The railway was completed in 1907 and it was a subsidiary of Nevada Consolidated Copper Company. In 1908 the tracks ran between the copper mines, mills and smelter. Between 1985 and 1987 KCC (the current owner at the time) donated all its remaining assets to the Nevada Northern Railway Museum. The museum also maintains a detailed historical archive for those who wish to learn more about the history of the railroad.
The ticket to the rail yard and shops allow visitors free rein to walk around and explore anywhere they want. We opted to start at the far end and work our way back. Follow along as we walk, it’s a long way!
The railroad maintenance shop is still used for maintenance of the rolling stock. All tools and equipment were as the mechanics had left them. On this day the building was empty, we had it to ourselves. That we were able to wander at will is a fact that still surprises us. Everything in our home state of California is locked up and fenced.
This is Dirt. He is the official mascot of the Railway. He and his friends live happily in the shop, rubbing against things and greeting visitors.
The view out the back door.
So many bits and pieces to take pictures of!
The main room of the shop is full of rolling stock of all kinds. I don’t know much about the types of trains, or what they are used for but I appreciate the craftsmanship and the beauty of finely crafted machines. A few signs tell a little about the uses of the trains.
This rotary snowplow is massive! I would love to see it in action!
Tools and parts stored in the blacksmith shop.
I’m always amazed at the sizes and weight of the tools used in train maintenance.
We were free to roam into the deepest darkest recesses of the shop. This room was in a far back corner, extremely dark.
Some very old and dusty pieces of equipment live in this back corner.
Rolling stock is stored two or three deep, this building is truly massive.
The photo below is of wrecking crane A. It is a 100 ton, coal fired, steam powered, wrecking crane. It was purchased new in 1907 for $16,015. The crane has an interesting history and repair story that you can read here. It is so huge, so tightly packed and so dark in here that this is the best picture I could get. It really is a sight to see!
More trains to see outside.
We walked back toward the station on the opposite side of the tracks. Buildings and equipment sit all around the yard, some have descriptive signs, some do not.
The view below is looking back toward the shops.
While we were walking around the yard, the train was coming and going. On this day, heavy equipment was operating on and off the tracks. It was interesting to watch, they were laying new track and I was amazed by the specialized equipment needed. Always a lot going on and it’s important to be mindful while walking.
The scale house and operator.
The upstairs of the train station has been left as it was when the mining company turned it over to the historic society. Today the rooms look as they would have during that time. Old office equipment and blueprints are displayed.
A docent from the historical society was on duty in this room. Some of the archives are stored here. He was extremely knowledgable and happy to answer any and all questions.
We have exhausted ourselves walking around today but an intriguing smokestack dominated the sky nearby. Had to go check it out as we were leaving.
There was no information about this structure but we surmise it was part of the smelter.
The intensive explorations made us hungry and I was especially intrigued by the Jailhouse Casino’s Cellblock Steakhouse, in downtown Ely. It seems that the old jail was located across the street from the present day casino. In the spirit of the old west, the casino built a “cellblock” restaurant. Dinner is served to you in your individual cell. My kind of place! Sadly they only serve dinner and it was late afternoon. Most restaurants in Ely were the same, the town comes alive at night. We ended up eating delicious sandwiches at the historic, All Aboard Cafe and Inn located, across the street from the Railway. I have heard a rumor that it may be closed down now.
There is a lot more to do in Ely, Nevada besides the Railway. The downtown area is full of historic buildings, museums and casinos, the great basin is a day trip away, ghost towns abound and the Ward Charcoal Ovens are nearby. Something for everyone. We spent several days here happily occupied.
It’s surprising the amount of entertainment that’s available in a small town in the middle of nowhere! Stay tuned for more blogs!