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Ely was founded as a stagecoach station along the Pony Express and Central Overland Route. Ely's mining boom came later than the other towns along US 50, with the discovery of copper in 1906. This made Ely a mining town, suffering through the boom-and-bust cycles so common in the West. Originally, Ely was home to a number of copper mining companies, Kennecott being the most famous.

With a crash in the copper market in the mid 1970s, Kennecott shut down and copper mining disappeared (temporarily). With the advent of cyanide heap leaching—a method of extracting gold from what was previously considered very low-grade ore—the next boom was on. Many companies processed the massive piles of "overburden" that had been removed from copper mines, or expanded the existing open-pit mines to extract the gold ore. Gold mines as widespread as the Robinson project near Ruth, and AmSelco's Alligator Ridge mine 65 miles (105 km) from Ely, kept the town alive during the 1980s and 1990s, until the recent revival of copper mining. As Kennecott's smelter was demolished, copper concentrate from the mine is now shipped by rail to Seattle, where it is transported to Japan for smelting.

While in Ely, be sure to visit the historical Nevada Northern Railway Museum. The railroad is not a mishmash of equipment from different railroads or different countries, nor is the equipment prettified or garish. This is the original railroad equipment in the original paint schemes in the original setting. All of this equipment has been on the property for decades and in a couple of cases more than a century, all of it still operating on the original track that was graded and laid a century ago. It was the time when steam moved mountains. The real business of this railroad was copper and copper was king! It was the reason that the railroad was built in the first place and ore trains ran day and night, year round. The demand for copper was insatiable. It was the miracle metal that made all of the newfangled inventions, such as the electric light and the telephone, possible. To view many more Nevada Northern Railway photos [click here].

Ely is one of my favorite communities (Pioche being another one) in Nevada. The people are friendly and when they wave, they use all five fingers. If the housing market wasn't so unstable where I currently live I would put my home up for sale and relocate to Ely. The winters are a little harsh, and would take some getting used to for these old bones, but I believe I could adapt.

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Nevada Northern Railway Museum. Photo was taken during the February 2011 winter photo shoot.
I converted it to sepia format to match an old time photo they were trying to duplicate.

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Nevada Northern Railway Museum - getting ready for an early morning photo shoot.

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Nevada Northern Railway Museum yard

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Coming into Ely on Steam Engine 93 - The engineer happens to be my son who was under training.

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Renaissance Village

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The Historic Hotel Nevada - Opened in 1929

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One of a couple of Brothels in Ely

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Nevada Northern Railway Engines 40 & 93 under the coal tower.

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Sign on Northern Nevada Railway Museum Machine Shop

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