Ely NV is in the middle of nowhere. It’s a long way to anyplace. With a population of about 6,000 they have a Family Dollar, a McDonalds, a couple of national chain motels (with casinos) and little else. Being a crossroads on US 6, US 50 and US 93 there are several mom-and-pop motels and a few local restaurants and casinos. Tourism and outdoor sports are the main draw. Tourism centers on the Nevada Northern Railway. The biggest employer is probably KGHM’s big Robinson Mining Co. copper pit at nearby Ruth.
1. Nevada Northern Railway brochure.
2. Nevada Northern Railway - yard 1.
3. Nevada Northern Railway - system map.
4. We bought tickets for the 1:00 PM steam run to Keystone. But first I wanted to scout out the line. This tunnel is just west of town on the north side of US 50. It is easily the most photographed location out on the line.
5. Tunnel - close up.
6. Copper Country monument.
7. Keystone wye to the left of the monument. The road to Ruth is in the background. The “L” marker signifies US 50 as the “Lincoln Highway.”
8. The town of Ruth was relocated in the early 1950s to this site because the copper mine pit was continually expanding.
9. KGHM acquired the mine property in 2004 after Kennecott Copper Corp. and BHP mined it. The Liberty Pit was reopened in 2013. A new concentrating plant was built on site. You can no longer drive through the property to the viewing site that Kennecott had. A large shovel is on the hill in the background, and heavy equipment can be heard working. Like most of the eastern coal fields, prosperity has left Ruth. KGHM’s Robinson Mine produces copper, gold and molybdenum, most of which is exported to Asia. It is trucked to the Union Pacific in northern Nevada, and the Nevada Northern Railway is no longer used.
10. This old McCormick-Deering tractor was on display near US 50. Driving in on the road in background we encountered a large rattlesnake. So you better watch where you walk.
11. Old McCormick-Deering tractor. View 2.
12. Nevada Northern’s East Ely Yard looking west. Left to right are the depot, team track, main line with yellow caboose, vintage boxcars, Kennecott Copper orange caboose, coal dock, and water tower. The nearest building to the depot housed the dispatcher.
13. Engine 93 goes for a morning jaunt out the main line. Don’t know the purpose of this. Perhaps it is a “be the engineer” 14-mile round trip with only the locomotive.
14. The concrete coal dock was built in 1917. I don’t know the story on the wooden coal dock. Neither are in use now.
15. SD9 went back to the locomotive shop, but why?
16. SD9. View 2.
17. SD9. View 3.
18. They pull 4-6-0 no. 40 out for display! Yes!
19. The coach shed / paint shop.
20. Coal Dock. View 2.
21. The cylinder cocks were open to let the air exhaust as the moving wheels pushed and pulled the pistons.
22. No. 40 is pushed west on the “ladder” track past the R.I.P. shop (Repair In Place). Formerly NN’s big fleet of ore hoppers, etc. were repaired here. A maintenance-of-way coach is undergoing restoration now.
23. Scale track with a manikin inside. That’s a scale test car on the right. If NN weighed all of the ore loads from the mine, this is where it would have been done. That would have been several hundred cars a day.
24. Scale test cars weighed a certain amount, and were used periodically to calibrate the scales. CSX has several that are kept and maintained at Barboursville WV. Of course they are much more modern than this relic.
25. No. 40 is parked on the “team track” next to the depot.
26. No. 40 was built in 1910 by Baldwin Locomotive Works for use on Nevada Northern passenger trains. It is still used occasionally.
27. No. 40. Front view.
28. Ford 1929 truck. Railway Express Agency logo.
29. The signage has changed over the years from “Ely City” to “East Ely” to “Ely” and back to “East Ely.” Railroad officials occupied the top floor. It is now the museum which you can tour.
30. Boarding for the 1:00 PM steam run. Engine No 93.
31. Approaching the short tunnel just west of town. The second tunnel was day-lighted during WWII.
32. At Keystone we will take the wye to the left. That’s a refuse dump in the background.
33. No 93 in the distance.
34. In the Canyon.
35. Dropping down the grade of the ore line along the north side of the town. Early on the numerous passenger and ore trains tied up the town so much that this bypass was built. The original line no longer continues through town.
36. Ore was put in this small yard just east of the station and shop. The main line north to Cobre (junction with Southern Pacific) and McGill (concentrator and smelter) is along the base of the mountain in the distance.