17, 18, and 19 the Nevada Northern Railway Museum in conjunction with
Ely Depot Museum, the White
Pine Public Museum, and the White
Pine Chamber of Commerce celebrates the Long Steel Rails
festival will explore the impact railroads had in the building of America.
These parallel long steel rails changed America but nowadays it's hardly
given a second thought. Like so many things in modern life, we expect
results with minimal effortthrow a switch and you have lights. Need
groceries? Hop in your car and head to the store where there's fresh meat,
fresh vegetables, and fresh dairy products. Of course, it wasn't always
like this and especially out West where great distances and horses made
for slow going.
railroad tracks that conquered the West were built one stick of rail at
a time. Across the high desert of Nevada ties were placed one at a time,
then the rail came forward. Thirty feet of steel weighing hundreds of
pounds was lifted by four men and placed on the ties. Then the spikers
moved in and started driving the spikes two per tie. As the spikers started
their work the rail carriers went back for another stick of rail to place
on the ties opposite their first one. The second rail was placed 4 feet
8 1/2 inches from the first and then another team of spikers came forward
driving in two spikes per tie. A different crew came forward and bolted
the rails together joining the new rails to the new track that stretched
on until it disappeared over the horizon. This ballet played out over
and over, again and again, covering immense distances and tying the country
railroads were the catalyst that led to the lifestyle that we now enjoy.
Once upon a time in America every town of substance had a rail connection.
If the railroad missed the town then the town picked up and moved to the
railroad. It was the railroads that allowed for the development of the
interior of the country. The railroads touched just about everyone. Today
that is still true but it is not as obvious as it once was.
is a place where this connection is still very obviousEly, Nevada.
Ely is the home of the Nevada Northern Railway, a place frozen in time.
The two-story sandstone depot stands at the end of a broad street. Looming
above the depot is the original coaling tower and water tank. The yard
is unique: it consists of fifty buildings and structures, the majority
of them constructed shortly after the arrival of the railroad.
17, 18 and 19 the complex comes alive as the Nevada Northern Railway celebrates
the sixth Long Steel Rails Festival. The three-day event will illustrate
the influence that railroads exerted on everyday life in America using
songs, stories, and pictures.
To tell the story
will be a series of singers, speakers and artists. They are:
Penn, Folklorist, who hails from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
This gravelly-voiced folk singer has written songs that have been
recorded by at least thirty other artists. For more than three decades,
Larry has played a wide range of venues that have taken him from hobo
jungles fires to the Fiat plant in Torino, Italy. He sings and tells
stories of hard work, working people, trains, life on the road, love,
and pink flamingos.
from St Paul, Minnesota, has quite the reputation as a picker, singer,
lasso twirler, and downright funny guy. He appeared frequently on
the nationally broadcast live radio show "A Prairie Home Companion."
And for the last quarter-century he has worked his cowboy music throughout
forty-four states and ten countries. His cowboy anthems crackle with
the warmth of a prairie campfire and his old time fiddle tunes set
toes a tappin' while he serves up spellbinding rope tricks and tall
stories all with a good dose of friendly humor.
Bob and Diana
Suckiel live in Kansas City, Missouri. Bob sings railroad songs
with rare authority having worked for four different railroads over
the past thirty years as a gandy dancer, brakeman, switchman, conductor,
and now an engineer. He both entertains and instructs with a mingled
collection of railroad songs, stories, terms, and hand signals that
only a true train hand would know. With a strong natural country voice,
Diana can belt a rough and tumble blues, shout the praises of the
gospel, or render a country ballad with the best of them.
David E. Bourne,
piano player extraordinaire. Dave has been playing the piano since
his first job at Knott's Berry Farm in 1958. He is a graduate of USC
with a degree in music education. Among his claims to fame is the
saloon piano player in the HBO series "Deadwood" where he
can be seen playing the piano in the Gem Saloon.
Tyson, steam locomotive engineer, cowboy, guitar player,
storyteller. You name it and John has probably done it. Working for
KOLO television as their Rural Reporter, John has traveled the state
in search of the interesting, little known stories that he shares
with the public. John can spin a story to make your hair stand on
end and also get a laugh out of you.
photographer, lives in Summerland, California. Joel began railroad
photography in earnest after his first freight train ride. After about
six or seven thousand miles, he figured out that he could take better
train pictures if he wasn't actually riding on the train. Now several
book covers and many magazine covers later, he is considered by many
to be the most controversial and creative railroad photographer in
the business. His photographs will be on display in the East Ely Depot.
speaker/photographer, has spent a lifetime in the railcar leasing
industry. But before that, growing up, he was captured by the allure
of railroading. Starting in college, John chased railroads around
the West recording disappearing images before they faded into the
background. Now retired from a career in railroading, John still chases
trains but now it's around the world.
Withuhn, speaker/author, is the author of The Spirit
of Steam, a book that is for anyone who was ever fascinated by
the railroad. A careful selection of images combined with thoughtful
commentary makes The Spirit of Steam appealing to a
modern, general audience. The commentary is special with challenging
and insightful ideas about the significance of the railroad in the
twentieth-century life. In concise, lively talks, Bill provides the
larger, essential context so often missing. Bill uses the power of
the image and puts images and interpretation together in a fresh way.
His evocative imagery of both trains and the people who ran them,
combined with the concise, lively essays, offer a fresh and powerful
perspective on the significance of the railroad in the twentieth-century.
Bill is the Curator of Transportation History at the Smithsonian's
National Museum of American History.
speaker/author. Steve Swanson has been called Nevada Northern railfan
number one. Steve worked for Kennecott during the heyday of mining
in White Pine County. Steve researches the nuts and bolts on Nevada
Northern equipment. He thinks nothing of spending hours in the Nevada
Northern Railway vault reading dusty documents on the mundane day-to-day
operations of the railroad. But, it is through his research that we
solve the mystery of the scale test car and "Old Slobbermouth."
researcher/historian. Keith also spends days in the Nevada Northern
vault uncovering information on the day-to-day operations of the railroad.
Not only is Keith familiar with paper but he also serves as webmaster
for the museum as well as maintaining his own award winning website
on the Nevada Northern Railway. If you have a question on the Nevada
Northern Railway, chances are you can find the answer on Keith's
Bute, cowboy illustrator, has spent most of his life
out on the open the range. This unique perspective has allowed him
to capture in paint a fading way of life. Larry's artwork ranges from
small pen and ink sketches to huge murals that painted on the sides
of buildings. Larry is the artist who has created all of the Long
Steel Rails Posters.
to the speakers and the entertainment there is plenty else to do during
Long Steel Rails. Not all of the people who rode the trains paid for the
privilege. Some rode the freight trains as unpaid passengers commonly
called hobos. A Hobo Camp will be set-up for the public to learn what
it was like jumping trains and traveling the country.
the children there will be a workshop where they will be able to assemble
a whistle made out of wood.
when people think of railroading the image that comes to mind is that
of the engineer. During the festival, you'll be able enjoy the ultimate
opportunity a ride in the cab of a diesel locomotive. This will be an
opportunity for the public to experience what its like to be in a diesel
locomotive going down the rails.
railroading up close, guided walking tours of the rail yards, blacksmith
shop, and buildings will be available. These tours show the machinery
and skills necessary to keep the iron horse running. There will also be
speeder rides. Before the days of cars and trucks, gandy dancers (track
workers) used lightweight gasoline powered track cars to travel the track
to inspect it. And of course there will be steam and diesel excursion
train rides all weekend long. On Saturday evening, there will be a very
special train the Steptoe Valley Flyer. From 1906 until 1941, passengers
traveled in great style on the Nevada Northern Railway. The train was
pulled by steam locomotive 40 and consisted of first class coach 5 and
baggage/Railway Post Office car 20. For years, these cars traveled from
the transcontinental railroad connection at Cobre to Ely. While today
we will not be able to go to Cobre, we will be able to travel over some
of the original track as we travel back in time. There is very limited
seating and passengers are encouraged to wear period dress for this trip.
join us for what promises to be an exciting weekend exploring the connection
of railroading and people.