Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Rail fanning the Nevada Northern - September 2011

How I spent my summer vacation
With me having a few vacation days to use up before they were lost, we decided to spend some time exploring a tourist railroad in Ely, Nevada. First a little history of the railroad.

Ely Nevada Map

East Ely Station on Northern Nevada

The Northern Nevada Railroad
Ely was named in honor of Smith Ely, president of the Selby Copper Mining & Smelting Co.; which was founded on the site of the present Ely's City Hall in 1878. By 1902 extensive copper deposits were found in the area. Mark Requa, son of a wealthy Comstock silver magnate, owned the Eureka & Palisade Railroad, a narrow gauge in Eureka. Requa was interested in bolstering the sagging economy of the E&P and explored the local copper properties at Ely. He organized the White Pine Copper Company - constructing a route that would require 140 miles of track construction. In 1904 White Pine Copper Co. merged into other mining properties and organized as the Nevada Consolidated Copper Co.
In 1983, the White Pine Historical Railroad Foundation was organized to receive, administer, and develop an operating railroad museum. Kennecott made substantial donations consisting of: over 32 miles of track, East Ely Complex of machine shops, roundhouse, yards, and rolling stock as well as the McGill Depot.
In September of 1986, Engine #40 was steamed up for the first time since 1964 and pronounced to be in perfect mechanical condition. A new era thus was born as the newly dubbed "Ghost Train of Old Ely" began chugging along once familiar rails to thrill generations.

The Train Ride
The ride from the station to Keystone and back lasts about 2 hours. You have a choice of riding in the coaches, caboose (extra charge), or the open air car with benches. The day we were there, they used SD-9 #204 to pull the train. A steam engine is used on the weekend runs.

SD-9 Northern Nevada RR

Along the route they give you a narrative on the history of the area and the railroad. A conductor who walks the train also will point out some of the interesting sites along the line. This included pointing out the two active brothels in Ely. The ride is very interesting and fun.

East Ely YardsTrain ride on the Norther Nevada RR

Train ride on the Norther Nevada RRTrain ride on the Norther Nevada RR

When we returned to Ely, you can leave the train and take a tour thru the locomotive shops where they are restoring and doing maintenance work. Bob (pictured below in the blue vest), was a great tour guide.  He explained in detail the history of the locomotives they are currently working on. He explained a lot of the specialized machinery that they use to make repairs or build parts for the engines. A very interesting tour.

Alco RS-3 Northern Nevada RR

#93 Alco 2-8-0 Consolidation Northern Nevada RR#40 Baldwin 4-6-0 Ten Wheeler Northern Nevada RR

#310 GE 25 Ton Diesel Northern Nevada RR

After the tour of the locomotive shops
When the tour had completed, you are encouraged to explore the rest of the museum grounds. They have many interesting examples of the types of equipment used during the railroads working days.

Box Car Northern Nevada RRSnow Spreader Northern Nevada RR

Scale Car Northern Nevada RROre Car Northern Nevada RR

Hopper Car Northern Nevada RRCoal Water Tower Northern Nevada RR

Bopper Caboose Northern Nevada RR