Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

To The Trains in Ely

I wasn't in the least disturbed by the intern staying in the room across the hall from us in the Nevada Northern Railway bunkhouse getting up at 5:30 to go wake up the steam locomotive (which requires a great deal of TLC before its 9:30 departure). Lisa and I could sleep a couple more hours after that before starting our day.

Nevada Northern Railway Bunkhouse
After getting dressed, we had some tea/coffee and a light snack in the bunkhouse kitchen.
Nevada Northern Railway Bunkhouse
The kitchen is adjacent to this common area.
Nevada Northern Railway Bunkhouse
While our room is one double bed, two of the bunkhouse rooms have two single beds instead.
Nevada Northern Railway
This is the view from the platform outside the back door of the bunkhouse.
Nevada Northern Railway
After breakfast, we walked across the rail yard, where the morning excursion was being prepared.
Look Out for the Locomotive
Locomotive #93 was steaming away at the platform waiting to haul our excursion. Most of the rest of the pictures we took (and all of the video) were on my regular camera, not the phone, and therefore I won't get them uploaded until we get home, including the photo of me in the cab of #93.

We collected our tickets from the gift shop and soon enough the conductor hollered "All Aboard!" The train consists of two ex-Illinois Central commuter coaches (from the electrified district, with signs of their former use visible to the trained railfan eye, which is to say that Lisa spotted it right away), an open car with seats in it, and a caboose (extra fare required). I had put on sunscreen and spent about half the trip in the open car, where the views were spectacular, but still got some sunburn.

Upon return to the museum, we joined the tour of the back shop area, which was fascinating. The Nevada Northern has been described as one of the best well-preserved heritage railways in North America, and their shops still have the heavy equipment necessary to make almost everything they need, save things like the electronics for their old diesel locomotives.

We spent more time touring the shops than the original train ride, and by the time we were done, we were also very hungry. Stowing our cameras in the bunkhouse, we walked over to the All Aboard Café & Inn, which is a half-block from the museum. There we had some of the best hamburgers we've ever eaten. Lisa raved about how they managed to cook the meat well done without charring all of the flavor away. They are also a B&B, and we had a look at their rooms. Lisa picked out the one in which she says we should stay the next time we come to Ely. The prices aren't cheap, but the rates are less than what we paid for the hotel room in Salt Lake City and includes breakfast, which if it's as good as the lunch we had, makes it a real bargain.

East Ely
Then it was back over to the East Ely depot where we bought things in the gift shop (taking advantage of our museum membership discount) including a new shirt for me and a new emergency lantern for the van. Our final railroad-related visit was the museum upstairs.

NNRY Storeroom
When the Kennicott mine (former owner of the railroad) shut down operations and the railroad in 1983, they simply downed tools and left. The state park service preserves the offices more or less in the state they were when the railroad shut down, including this storeroom full of old railroad forms. There also were a bunch of mimeograph supplies that I can see some fannish friends of mine coveting.

Copper mining has resumed, but the railroad no longer hauls ore or even finished concentrate up to the now-UP connection at Shafter (on the former Western Pacific; the former Southern Pacific connection was at Cobre to the north). We asked and one of the museum people told us that they've made a $17 million TIGER grant request to rehabilitate the line so that they could start hauling again. I'm in favor of this not only because I like trains and because it would open the prospect of excursions over the entire line up to Shafter, but because of all of the heavy trucks it would remove from the highways out of Ely. I hope they manage to get the grant money to get the rest of the railroad open again.

After a full day at the museum, we returned to the bunkhouse and its air-conditioned room, where we could take off our shoes and relax for a few hours. There are other things to do in Ely, but we're footsore and tired from Westercon and railroad tourism, so we'll have to put them off until a future visit. Besides, we only have three days at home after we get there tomorrow night before our NASFiC trip starts, so we have to try and pace ourselves.
Tags: nevada, trains, travel

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