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"At The Throttle"
by Mark Bassett, Executive Director

A weekly series of columns originally published in the Saturday edition of the Ely Times 
Mark Bassett is the Executive Director of the White Pine Historical Foundation, operator of the Nevada Northern Railway Museum. He can be reached at the museum (775) 289-2085 ext. 7 or e-mail: director@nnry.com

 


Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
20 August 2004


 

Labor Day weekend in Ely, Nevada is dedicated to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, a celebration of getting there from here. The activities start on Saturday, September 4th at 9:30 a.m. when the Ghost Train of Old Ely, powered by steam locomotive 93, heads up the track. This is an eighteen mile round trip to Ruth and it is the first excursion of the day. Step back in time and experience what it was like to travel by a steam-powered train. Up front, the fireman is shoveling coal, about 2,000 pounds of it, to make the run up the hill. The engineer is controlling the iron beast as it pulls its train up the hill.

At 10:00 a.m., we have a parade, but not any old parade. This parade will have airplanes and vintage cars in it. What so special about having a parade with airplanes in it, you might ask? Well these planes taxi the parade route and then take-off at the end of the parade. Meanwhile the vintage cars are parked at the depot. This is a rather unique experience that only happens in Ely.

 


Ultralights on parade--part of the Planes, Trains, and Automobiles celebration during the upcoming Labor Day weekend.

 

 

Then at 1:00 p.m., it is up the hill all over again. If you rode the 9:30 a.m. train, now is the perfect chance to chase the train up the hill and take pictures of Locomotive 93 as it makes it assault on the hill again. There are great photo spots as Locomotive 93 exits the tunnel and runs parallel to Highway 50.

Meanwhile back at the East Ely Depot, there is a silent auction going on that continues all day. Browse through the items and make your bid, check back often to insure that you are the high bid. Around the depot grounds, vintage automobiles will be on display. If you own a vintage automobile, consider bringing down to the depot for the day. In the plaza between the Depot and the Transportation Building there will be live music, food, and refreshments. In the freight barn, model trains will be on display. At noon, the Cave Bear Zephyr fires up and starts making round trips between the Nevada Northern Railway Museum and the White Pine Public Museum. This train operates on a fifteen-minute headway between the two museums. This is your chance to ride in a caboose. At the White Pine Public Museum, you will find the bones of a prehistoric cave bear that was found in White Pine County. This bear is so big that a young visitor nicknamed it the "dinosaur bear." You'll have plenty of time to browse the other artifacts that make up the museum's collection. When you're done, jump back on the Cave Bear Zephyr and head back to the railroad museum.

At 4:30 p.m., the Ghost Train changes power. Locomotive 93 heads back to the barn and its replacement Locomotive 109 now leads the train as it heads on a twenty-one mile round trip towards McGill. This trip is a complete opposite to the morning trip. Once you leave East Ely, you head straight for the mountains. At the base of the mountains, the railroad turns north and starts climbing above Steptoe Valley. You'll have an unobstructed view that will let you see miles in many different directions.

At 6:30 p.m., the Ghost Train arrives back at the depot where you can check on your bids at the silent auction. Meanwhile, the ultra lights are playing a rather unique form of golf. They fly to their holes on the golf course, land, putt, and take off again. For those of you who have ever had a hankering to see what it is like to fly like a bird, now is your chance--rides are available on the ultra lights. At 6:45 p.m., the silent auction closes and the high bidders claim their treasures.

On Sunday, the engine crew shows up at 5:00 a.m. to get Locomotive 93 ready for its assaults on the hill. You are invited to come down to the enginehouse and watch what it takes to get a steam locomotive ready for the day. Locomotive 93 heads out of the East Ely Depot at both 9:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. heading for Ruth. On the depot grounds there are vintage cars on display. At noon, the Cave Bear Zephyr fires up and starts making the round trips between the Nevada Northern Railway Museum and the White Pine Public Museum. This train operates on fifteen-minute headway between the two museums. In the freight barn, there are the model trains. Meanwhile the ultra lights are flying around Ely. At 7:30 p.m. the last Wine Train of the season heads out of the East Ely Depot heading towards McGill--reservations are recommended. You will be able to watch the sun go down as you sip wine. As an extra bonus, the ultra lights will most likely buzz the train.

Monday is the wrap up. At 8:00 a.m., the ultra lights fly over Ely and at 9:30 a.m., Locomotive 93 makes the last assault up the hill that weekend and the Cave Bear Zephyr will operate from noon until 2:00 p.m.

Labor Day weekend promises to be a great amount of fun. Plane rides, train rides, music, hotdogs, and a unique parade make Ely the place to be Labor Day weekend.

Open daily except Tuesdays, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., the museum is located at 1100 Avenue A in Ely, Nevada. The Nevada Northern Railway Museum consists of a forty-acre complex with forty-nine historic structures recognized as a National Historic District. The museum collection consists of three steam locomotives, six first generation diesel locomotives, two electric locomotives, a steam powered crane and a steam powered rotary snowplow. In addition, the museum has six historic passenger cars, fifty historic freight cars, and thirty miles of track. During the summer season, steam and diesel powered passenger train excursions are offered along with walking tours of the museum grounds. For the ultimate railfan experience, an individual can rent one of the museum locomotives and operate the locomotive out on the mainline track. For more information, please contact the Nevada Northern Railway Museum at 1-866-407-8326 or 775-289-2085.

The City of Ely and the White Pine Historic Railroad Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit corporation, jointly own the Nevada Northern Railway Museum. The White Pine Historic Railroad Foundation operates the museum. For more information, please call Mark Bassett at (775) 289-2085 extension 7 or browse this web site.

Saturday, September 4, 2004
Nevada Northern Steam Train 9:30 AM East Ely Depot
Parade 10:00 AM Great Basin Highway
Cave Bear Zephyr Caboose Train Noon - 4:00 PM East Ely Depot
Nevada Northern Steam Train 1:00 PM East Ely Depot
Classic Car Display All Day East Ely Depot
Model Train Display All Day East Ely Depot
Hot dogs and refreshments 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM NNRy Plaza
Nevada Northern Diesel Train 4:30 PM East Ely Depot
Silent Auction All Day; ends at 6:45 PM East Ely Depot
Music: Stuck in Reverse All Day NNRy Plaza

 

 

Sunday, September 5, 2004
Music: Stuck in Reverse 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM NNRy Plaza
Nevada Northern Steam Train 9:30 AM East Ely Depot
Hot dogs and refreshments 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM NNRy Plaza
Cave Bear Zephyr Caboose Train Noon - 4:00 PM East Ely Depot
Nevada Northern Steam Train 1:00 PM East Ely Depot
Classic Car Display All Day East Ely Depot
Model Train Display All Day Freight Barn
Nevada Northern Wine Train 7:00 PM East Ely Depot

 

 

Monday, September 6, 2004
Nevada Northern Steam Train 9:30 AM East Ely Depot
Cave Bear Zephyr Caboose Train Noon - 2:00 PM East Ely Depot
Model Train Display Until 1:00 PM Freight Barn

 

 


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All Rights Reserved - Page Last Updated 20 August 2004
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