July 7th, 2014

Wig Wag

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.

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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.

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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.