Nevada Northern Railway
National Historic Landmark      Ely, NV


"At the Throttle"

A Series of articles on the Nevada Northern Railway
By Mark Bassett, Executive Director, NNRY


2004 Off and Running


The New Year brings in a new set challenges and opportunities for the Nevada Northern Railway Museum. The momentum that we build up last year is pushing us into a truly exciting period for the museum.

The big news is our operating schedule for 2004. The season starts February 7th and 8th with the Winter Steam Photo Spectacular. In its fifth year, this is an opportunity for photographers from around the country to photograph locomotive 93 moving ore cars from Keystone to Adverse. The benefits from this are enormous for the museum. First, all of the monies raised from this weekend will be used to bring locomotive 40 back into steam service. Secondly, photographers take photographs—kind of basic I know. But what do the photographers do with the photos and videos that they shoot? Why they show them to friends, relatives, acquaintances, and the really good ones get published, which exposes the museum to an even wider audience. The benefit to the museum is exposure. Of course the more people who know about us the more people who will come for a visit.

Our first charter of the season takes place February 12th and 13th. It is another photo session. The big difference is that the participants are all from the east coast for a once in a lifetime opportunity to photograph the Nevada Northern Railway. Of course they will go home and tell their friends, relatives, and acquaintances about the great time they had in Ely, Nevada. Which of course will raise interest in the museum and the advertisements that we place through the year will continue this high level interest.

The other big news is that museum has a new Master Mechanic. His name is Jack Anderson and he brings over twenty years of steam locomotive experience to Ely. Jack has put seven steam locomotives back in service. He owns a couple of first generation ALCO switchers, so he is familiar with our ALCO diesels 105 and 109.

Jack has his work cut out for him. The current plan is to finish off the steam crane, which is in pieces in two buildings. We are almost ready to test the boiler with water. Then we will get the crane put back together and get it operational. With luck, the steam crane project should be complete by April.

Then it is on to Locomotive 40. Once the shop forces finish the crane, our next project is putting 40 back into service. The pressure will really be on, because 40 is committed for another photo shoot the first weekend in October. We will have people from around the world coming to visit the museum and witness locomotives 40 and 93 out on the mainline hauling cars.

And if that was not enough to keep us hopping, the excursion season starts the first weekend of May. Then starting with Memorial Day weekend, we kick into high gear running two trains a day, six days a week. Better yet, of the six days, we will run steam four days a week-Fridays through Mondays. The two trains a day continues until Labor Day weekend, when the schedule again plows new ground. The museum will continue six days a week, morning operations, through the month of September. The schedule continues with weekend operations through October. Also new for 2004 the Haunted Ghost Train which runs four times in October, join us for a ghoulish good time.

If this is not enough to keep us busy, we are bringing back the Long Steam Rails Festival, the second weekend of June. Details are sketchy right now, but we are going to focus on the music, stories, and the visual arts of railroading.

Then of course we have other projects that also need attention. The coaches need work. The sound system, toilet, diaphragms, wheels, couplers, and windows all are in desperate need of maintenance. In addition to the coaches, we will continue with our track maintenance program that we started in 2003. We will again line and tamp the track along our entire line. It is also a goal to open the track between the railroad museum and the White Pine Public Museum. Add ballast where it is needed and repair another culvert. At the same time we will do some vegetation control on the entire line and in the yard.

Let's not forget the Centennial. It starts in June 2005, that's when the track crews of the Nevada Northern started building track from Cobre one hundred years ago. The management board of the museum created a Centennial Committee at their last meeting. Volunteers are needed for the committee, if you're interested give me a call or e-mail me.

In addition to all of the above, there are the three big projects that we are working on. In addition to Locomotive 40, we need to put the ash pit back in service, and track to the McGill Depot and restore the depot. I really want to have all of our locomotives repainted, in their appropriate color and schemes. Finish off the boxcar project, finish the windows on the RIP building, and continue cleaning up the yard. Of course all of these projects take money. So fundraising and grant writing will also be an integral part of the year's activities.

2004 promises to be another exciting year at the museum as we prepare for our Centennial. Come join us.