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    Ely Nevada

  • Ely Correspondence – March 2017
  • Ely Correspondence – March 2017

    Ely and White Pine County: Full of History

    During its past, Ely was a mining town.  In the 1870s and ’80s, White Pine was part of a boom when British money was invested in the silver mines. After 1900 came the copper boom. In the next 70 years, more than a billion dollars in copper was shipped out of the area. Much of the mining and milling done recently was reworking the waste dumps of the past.  Today, copper, gold, and silver are the main minerals mined.

    Ranching also played a major part in the history of the area. Cattle and sheep raised here were shipped to the eastern markets. Farming of alfalfa was developed to feed the livestock.

    Ely is expanding into industries other than mining.  One branch of the state prison system and an honor camp are located here.  Expansion of tourist facilities has begun, and several cottage industries have started up.

                                                                            The General Store at the Ely Renaissance Village

    The Ely Renaissance Society mural project enhances the downtown area and portrays our history.  Several murals have been completed by this group, in addition to others that add local color. A sculpture garden and labyrinth add to the outdoor art experience. The Renaissance Village is a restored collection of ethnic houses that represent homes here in the early 1900s. Check the website at elynvarts.com for information. The Village is open Friday and Saturdays mid-May through September, with the Farmers Market in mid August through September. It is located at 400 Ely St. In November, the Village transforms in to the North Pole for the Polar Express Train rides.  Information about the murals and the Village can be found at elynvarts.com.

    The Ely Art Bank, an art gallery and cultural center, is located in a restored bank building in downtown Ely next to the Garnet Mercantile. Stop in to see Art Among the Aspens and so much more. Art work by nearly 40 artists is on display.

    Downtown Ely offers a friendly, small town atmosphere where people can window shop … and stop to admire the outdoor art.  Take time to explore the unique shopping, variety of dining experiences and the friendly atmosphere where visitors stop in at a historic soda fountain for delicious treats.

    There is much to see and do around White Pine County.  Great Basin National Park, Cave Lake and Ward Charcoal Ovens State Parks, and the Mount Moriah Wilderness Area, are nearby. There are excellent hunting and fishing areas. Campgrounds are available.  Wilderness activities and licensed guides are also available.

    Special events are scheduled throughout the year. Ice fishing is popular in the winter. The Ice Fishing Derby and the Fire and Ice Sculpture show with fireworks are held in January.  The Cannons and Cocktails Boat Races are held in June, with fireworks over the lake. These events take place at Cave Lake State Park. Events can be found in this publication or at www.whitepinechamber.com or elynevada.net.

    A variety of museums are available for those interested in exploring the past. The White Pine Public Museum, located at 2000 Aultman Street, has a wonderful collection of artifacts from the past, a prehistoric cave bear exhibit and a huge doll collection.

    The soda fountain counter in the McGill Drugstore Museum offers a now rare treat for both those old enough to remember and younger generations who’ve never tasted a traditional American soda-fountain soda.


    The Consolidated Copper Company bought water rights to operate the smelter to refine the copper ore mined at Ruth.  The smelter would be located where the water was.  Therefore, the town of McGill was born. McGill is the home of the McGill Drug Store Museum.  The stock and everything used to run the business in the 1970s is still on the shelves, and the soda fountain is operating.  Don’t miss this chance to step back in time to a store left just as it was when the last customers left in the early 1970s.

                                                                                                Ruth, Nevada in 1912


    Old Ruth was originally the location of Consolidated Copper Company.  Eventually the open pit mine began to overtake the town, and the town was moved to where it is now.  It became New Ruth, and later just Ruth. After closing in 1999, the mine reopened in 2004 and continues to operate today. A company town in the beginning, Ruth’s houses and buildings were sold by the Kennecott Copper Corporation to individual owners in 1955.


    Lund is one of the settlements of the L.D.S. (Mormon) Church.  In 1898, when the church decided to colonize, the Plane ranch became the town of Lund, and the Maddox ranch became the town of Preston.  Some of the original adobe buildings are still in use.  Many other buildings were moved from the ghost towns of Ward and Taylor.  In the dry weather of Nevada, building materials were too scarce to waste.

    Lund and Preston were located on the stage line between Hamilton and Pioche.  The line ran about where the junction of Hwy 6 and SR 318 is today.


    In 1869, Absalom Lehman homesteaded in the Snake Valley.  He decided it would be more profitable to feed the miners than to mine a claim.  In 1885, he discovered Lehman Cave.  He began what he called “cave crawling” that same year.  The next year he began taking visitors through the cave.  Almost 800 people visited the cave the first year.

    White Pine County and the communities around Ely provide lots of places to explore and history to learn.

    — Lorraine Clark

    The post Ely Correspondence – March 2017 appeared first on NevadaGram from the Nevada Travel Network - Telling Nevada's story 365, 24/7.

    More from Ely

    More from Around Nevada

    ELY IS THE GREAT CITY of Nevada's far east, closer to Salt Lake City than to Reno or Las Vegas. It is located where the southern end of the magnificent Steptoe Valley meets foothills of the Egan Range, at the conjunction of Highways 6, 50 and 93. Ely offers many excellent lodging, dining and recreation options in marvelous natural surroundings.

    Northern Nevada Railroad ElyIts greatest attraction to visitors is the Ghost Train, the restored Nevada Northern Railway that takes passengers from the old depot in East Ely (take 11th Street north from Highway 93/Avenue F/Aultman Street) on excursions west to Ruth and northeast to McGill from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Additional trains are scheduled during the winter months, the Polar Express has Santa aboard, and the Photo Shoot specials in February attract photographers from around the world.

    Railroad buffs now converge on Ely from all over the world. They light up with pleasure as the antique locomotives squeal and hiss up to the passenger depot. They exult at the conductor's "All Aboard!" They thrill at the thought of an Ely-McGill-Cherry Creek excursion train, and they faint away with joy at the prospect of going all the way to Cobre.

    No wonder: Magic happens as the antique steamers chuff solemnly away from the station. Wheels clickety-clacking, cars swaying, the world gliding slowly by, kids waving from their bikes, cows looking up in dim curiosity, sky spread big and bright overhead — it's a unique and delightful experience for its own sake, and even more for being the real thing — this is not a reconstruction or a restoration.

    Travel Nevada, Nevada Magazine
    The White Pine Public Museum at 2000 Aultman Street is the showplace for a mineral collection of considerable variety, and for unique items like the home-made cannon which once guarded the Court House in Hamilton. The museum is open seven days during June, July and August, and Monday through Friday the rest of the year. Admission is free.

    Ely was established in the 1870s as a stagecoach station and post office. Only after it was designated the White Pine County seat in 1887 with the collapse of Hamilton did the population climb to 200. After the turn of the century, immense copper deposits near Ely began to attract attention away from the failing gold mines, and by 1906 a boom had developed. The Nevada Northern Railway was completed in the fall of that year and in 1908, when the smelter at McGill went on the line, mineral production leapt from barely more than $2000 the year before to more than $2 million. The Kennecott Copper Company began acquiring Ely copper mining companies in 1915 and by 1958, swhen it suspended operations, these acquisitions resulted in control of the region's copper mines and dominated the local economy. A Polish company is mining the copper here now.

    The departure of Kennecott was a watershed event in White Pine County history, and for nearly 20 years nothing quite took up the economic slack. The economic downturn precluded widespread renovation, and the early 20th century small-town architecture that dominates its center give Ely a familiar look. Norman Rockwell would have liked it, and you will like it too.

    Ely RenaissanceMany of Ely's downtown buildings are distinguished by murals, most of them sponsored by the Ely Renaissance Society, a group formed after the closure of the big copper mine eliminated more than 400 local jobs. The murals were intended to help spruce up the 11-block central core of the city, and to create a new attraction that would help bring visitors. Depicting a variety of local subjects in a variety of styles, the murals and other outside art provide a pleasant and interesting stroll.

    Ely Outback
    Another great attraction is the magnificent surroundings. Great Basin National Park provides an obvious and rewarding destination, but there is no limit to the outdoor recreation here. Hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, exploring, cross-country skiing and anything else you enjoy doing outdoors is available in the countryside around Ely Chamber of Commerce information is available on Aultman Street.

    from The Complete Nevada Traveler, by David W. Toll

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