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



Steam Sells — Part II
04 January 2003


As part of my education about tourist railroading was the understanding of the concept, “Steam Sells”. This concept was reinforced by the break down of our passenger count last year. The three-quarters of our ridership rode behind Locomotive 93. Yet Locomotive 93 powered less than a quarter of our trains. I thought I would share an example of how the railroad is marketed to the outside world and impacts the community.

One of our volunteers is Joel Jensen; he is a professional photographer and author who has been published in national publications. His photographs are displayed in prestigious art galleries. Samples of his work are on display at the new gallery in Ely, Desperation Arts, where he is part owner. He will tell you that he lives in California but his second home is Ely. Joel has been coming to Ely to photograph and help out on the Nevada Northern for over 10 years now.

One of his projects is a winter photo shoot that this year will be held on February 1st and 2nd. Joel was in the office last week sending out invitations to photographers nation-wide. I thought you might be interested in how Joel will entice photographers to come to Ely in the middle of winter. Following then are excerpts from his invitation.

An example of Joel Jensen's work is this photograph of Locomotives 40 and 93 in front of the coaling tower. Historic equipment in its original setting is the principle reason people come from around the country to Ely. The added plus of being able to photograph in the dead of winter with steam billowing is an added bonus.

 


4th Annual Nevada Northern Railway Photo Shoot

     If you like steam, have we got it for you! Clouds and clouds of it. Once again, our railroad will strut its stuff in sub-zero degree weather (or close to it). Snow? We've had it on previous winter spectaculars, 6 inches of it during the 1999 version. Sub-zero? We hit -5 in 2001, and you should have seen the frost on the sagebrush. Sun? How about cobalt blue skies during the shoot. Point being, we've offered up just about every type of meteorological conditions that wintertime Ely experiences, including shirtsleeve weather.
     Why do we offer such a photo adventure during winter months? Because we want our participants to get the best shots possible. If you think that #93 looks good on an 85-degree day in August, wait till you see her on a zero degree-day in February. She looks pretty good in a snowstorm too, billowing white clouds of steam plus plumes of black & gray smoke that tower above the canyons and valleys.
     This year’s trip will feature, as always, a truly historical Nevada Northern ore train, pulled by #93. We're talking 100% NNRY authentic. No modern day cars or caboose. How many RR museums can match this level of authenticity? Very few.
     We will operate all day Saturday and most of Sunday, stopping often to allow participants the opportunity to record photo run-bys. We'll begin early both days --approximately 7:30, and we will spend considerable time shooting our train in the historical East Ely rail yards, as well as out on the Hiline and Keystone Routes.
On Saturday night we will do an extensive night photo session. (A tripod is a must). We will try something new, along with shots of #93 in front of and inside the engine house, and or depot and coal tower.
     As always, we will provide you with plenty of food, including the Saturday night banquet steak dinner at the East Ely depot. The Saturday dinner is an additional $15.00. Breakfast, lunch, and snacks are included in your train fare.
     Bottom Line? World-class photography. NNRY Winter Photo Spectacular participants have won numerous photo contests, recording timeless scenes of a historical railroad that is second to none. Many of the "Winter Spectacular" photos that I've seen rival the best that National Geographic has to offer.
     You'll freeze your butt off (hopefully), but we'll keep the fires burning in the caboose. True, you may have to have your frostbitten fingers, toes, and nose amputated... but when you see your photos, you will be glad that you gave up a body part or two for images that will last a lifetime.

  When:
February 1 & 2 (Sat & Sun)
 
  Where:
Ely (East Ely, Nevada)
 
  Why:
To raise money for the most historically accurate intact railroad complex in the U.S. (All proceeds go to the museum)
 
  Cost:
$365.00. Ticket includes: continental breakfast, lunch, snacks, night photo shoot*, steam cab rides, and a one-year subscription to Ghost Tracks (Nevada Northern Railway Museum Newsletter).
      For an additional $15.00, participants are invited to attend the Saturday night Steak dinner at the East Ely Depot. Good food plus waiting room "ambience". Let me know if you wish to attend the dinner.
 
  Motive Power:
1909, Alco built, 2-8-0, #93
 
  Train Consist:
Ore cars and wood sided caboose. All equipment is original NNRY
 
  Photo Runbys:
Approximately 40, featuring both the Keystone & Hiline Routes, plus numerous numerous runbys in the East Ely rail yards.
 
  Weather:
Unpredictable. At this time of year, over-Night lows are typically sub-zero. Daytime Highs range from 0 to 50 degrees. Previous Winter photo shoots have featured blizzards to clear skies, to heavy frost and to heavy Overcast. Such conditions have consistently Yielded to outstanding photographs (NNRY Winter Photo Shoot participants consistently Dominate the annual Winterail photo contest.
 
*Saturday Night Photo Shoot: Provided the skies are clear, we will stage #93 at a remote location outside of town. There will be no moon (dark) so the plan is to do a long exposure (20 minute), which will create long star trails behind a fill-flashed #93. If it is overcast, we’ll stage #93 in front of the depot as well as outside of the engine house.

 

Quite the invitation don't you think? In years past twenty to thirty photographers took Joel up on his invitation to come to Ely in the middle of winter. And I can understand why, it will be a fascinating show we'll be putting on that is not available anywhere else in the country. This is only one example of how the Nevada Northern Railway attracts people to Ely. Steaming in the winter with an authentic backdrop, simply world class.