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


Centennial Plans
06 March 2004


On June 1, 2005, the Nevada Northern Railway turns 100 years old and starts a fifteen month long Centennial Celebration. The centennial goes through to September 29, 2006 when the tracks came to Ely and the community celebrated Railroad Day. That means in a mere fifteen months we need to develop plans to celebrate the Centennial.

The Nevada Northern is the last survivor of another time. Nevada became a state and grew because of mining. To have mining you needed a railroad and railroads were built through out the state sometimes at a frenzied pace to transport the gold, silver and copper. They are all gone now except the Nevada Northern, this in itself is cause for celebration. Yet the Nevada Northern is unique in its completeness that has survived for one hundred years.

Having three original steam locomotives is a starting point. The oldest locomotive is 93, which came to Ely in 1909 brand new from the American Locomotive Company and is in operating condition today. Locomotive 40 arrived in Ely in 1910 and is currently undergoing restoration and scheduled to be back in service in October 2004. Locomotive 81 is scheduled for restoration in 2005 if the funding can be raised. This is just the starting point of the museum's uniqueness.

In addition to the locomotives, we have five of the original passenger cars. The Nevada Northern bought coach 2, new in 1906. Yet coach 2 is not the oldest passenger car on the property. How can this be? The Nevada Northern bought Coach 5 and coaches 05 and 06 used. The three coaches predate the railroad with coaches 05 and 06 being over 136 years old.

The uniqueness of the Nevada Northern collection is displayed when Locomotive 40 couples up to the baggage/railway post office car 21 and coaches 2 and 5. You can see a piece of Americana that has all but disappeared today. This is a peek at the past that built our country. Trains similar to this one crisscrossed the country carrying the people who developed the west. Even the isolated Nevada Northern carried its fair share of passengers. By the time passenger service ended in 1941 the Nevada Northern Railway had carried over six million passengers. Where coach 5 will be entering service this year the rest of the cars and locomotive 40 all need to be restored.

Then there is the supporting equipment-the steam-powered crane and the steam powered rotary snowplow. Both bought new in 1906, the steam crane is currently under going restoration to operating condition. The rotary snowplow is still in the enginehouse though not in operating condition. Scattered through out the East Ely yard are fifty pieces of freight equipment. Some of this equipment dates to the beginning of the railroad.

Having the locomotives and rolling stock is just one aspect of our uniqueness. In the East Ely yard are 49 building and structures that make up the facility. In McGill, the 1910 depot is slated for restoration and at the White Pine Public Museum the Cherry Creek depot still exists and is scheduled to have trains running to it again. And then in downtown Ely the Ely depot is currently in use as the senior center.

The glue that ties all of this together though is the paper trail. In the East Ely Depot and in the Transportation building are the records of the railroad. These records consist of the payroll and personnel records along with the drawings of the buildings, locomotives, and rolling stock. It is the combination of all of these aspects that truly makes the Nevada Northern Railway unique.

It is this uniqueness that needs to be celebrated during the fifteen months of the Centennial and that is where your help is needed. It has been said that the Nevada Northern Railway is the best kept rail fan secret in the country. We need to change that thinking and the Centennial Celebration is a starting point. This is the museum's chance to shine.

For this to happen your help is needed. The museum is forming a Centennial Celebration Committee and we need volunteers to be on the committee. If you are interested in helping to develop the Centennial Celebration, volunteer now! If you live outside Ely, you can still volunteer to be part of this committee. We now have the ability to do conference calls and of course there is always e-mail.

If you are interested in participating please contact the museum ASAP at (775) 289-2085 or drop us an e-mail at nnry1@mwpower.net. Time is fleeting and there is a great deal of work to do.