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"At The Throttle"
by Mark Bassett, Executive Director

A weekly series of columns originally published in the Ely Times 
Mark Bassett is the Executive Director of the White Pine Historical Railroad 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

 


Scary Times Along the Nevada Northern Railway
10 October 2007

by Mary Sorenson

 

For the past four years, the Nevada Northern Railway Museum has partnered with community groups to offer the Haunted Ghost Train. For the next three Saturdays, the Haunted Ghost Train departs the East Ely Depot promptly at 7:00 p.m. for a trip through the supernatural. Ghosts, goblins, and eerie sights are encounter as the train heads down the track. Book your tickets early for a frightfully good time. What will you see???

Two fourteen-year-old boys were walking down the tracks by the Nevada Northern Railway freight yard in East Ely, Nevada one late night. They had taken beer from one of the boy's fathers and were on their way to meet a friend. They knew that if they were seen on the streets that they would be in trouble so they walked down the tracks, since no one would be there that late at night.

It was a full moon and the boys had no trouble seeing the tracks and the surrounding freight yard. Off in the distance they saw a figure walking toward them. Thinking it was just their friend they thought nothing of it.

You just never know who'll be riding
the Haunted Ghost Train on
the Nevada Northern.


The closer they got the more the boys realized that something was wrong; their friend wasn't walking, he was floating above the tracks, and you could see through the figure. The boys turned to run, and when they looked back, the figure had vanished.

It turned out that their friend was not able to get out that night and he had been home in bed. These boys are now grown men, but they still refuse to walk down by the tracks late at night.

Historical Fact: On June 12, 1912, Mr. George Haviland, a conductor for NNRy, was killed when cars derailed while he was trying to make a flying switch in the Northern Nevada Co. freight yard. Could it be Mr. Haviland still on the job???

Working in the Nevada Northern Railway offices can be a strange experience at times. They seem to have an unseen friend that is keeping an eye on them. This friend has been heard coming up the stairs (and of course, when they look no one is there). Toilets have been known to flush by themselves, and computers have been turned off and on. Sometimes this friend just watches people! Then the hair on your arms and the back of your neck will stand up, and you will know that you are not alone. Who is this friend? Is it a past employee just making sure that they are taking care of his railroad, or is it a past worker that just does not know when to retire? The staff calls this friend Bob.

In the middle of the freight yard is a big tower that they used in the past for coal and water for the steam engine. Several times the door on the very top has been seen opening by itself. When people walk up the stairs in the tower to check it out no one is there. A Sheriff Deputy told me that they were checking out the depot one night and they heard voices coming from the tower; when they walked to the very top, they found no one there.

There are stories of more ghosts at the depot. The volunteers have talked about a ghost that watches them at the roundhouse. One employee did say that there is a definite cold spot that will make you very uneasy. Now back to our train trip.

One night several decades ago, four men were drinking a lot of beer when one of the men bragged that his horse was faster then the new steam locomotive. No one believed him so after a few more beers, his horse was saddled and they went to wait for the train to go by. As soon as the train came by the man got his horse to go as fast as he could, he knew that his horse was the fastest one around and that they could easily beat the train.

Unfortunately, the man did not see a tree as the horse went under it, and the man was knocked off. While one friend caught the horse, the others went to check out their fallen friend. The men found to their dismay that their friend was there but without his head, which they could not find around the area. To this day, you will still see a headless man chasing the train looking for the person or persons who found his head!!!

Three young men were driving on the Lackawanna Road towards the Gap one night very late. Suddenly up ahead they noticed a bloody man standing in the road; unfortunately, they did not have time to stop. Slamming on the brakes the men braced themselves to hit the man! Instead of hitting the man, the car went though the man, and when they looked back, there was no one in the road. Be careful where you drive at night.

*His name was Henry (Hank) Parrish; he was brought to Ely from Lincoln County in 1890 where he was accused of murdering three people. He had a trial and was found guilty. Hank was finally hung in December of 1890. We do not know for sure where they buried old Hank, there is no record of him being at the Ely Cemetery, and Lincoln County did not want him back.

An early 1900's Ely newspaper article states that Hank was buried on Squaw Peak next to the Spaniard (another criminal that was not popular with the citizens of Ely). As you will hear from later stories, Hank is a restless spirit; some nights when there is no moon you can still see the coffin that Hank was buried in waiting to be placed in the ground.

In the early years in our county teachers was in short supply so they were shared with other schools in our area. Several of the teachers would live in Ely and travel each day rain or shine to Kimberly on the ore cars.

Next to the old Ely grade school is a railroad crossing where the teacher would be picked up each day, and ride in the caboose to Kimberly grade school. One teacher feels that she is still needed by her students to this day, because you can still see her sometimes at this crossing waiting for the train. So if you are riding the train some night and see a ghostly figure outside, ask the engineer to hurry on by or you may be forced to share you seat with a ghostly schoolmarm.

This next story involves a high school student who was an aide for one of the teachers when the school was still a grade school many years ago. There were several days when she would have to go to the second floor on errands for the teacher. It was after school one afternoon and being in the fall, it was already starting to get dark as she went up the hall. Up ahead she saw a small girl dressed in white walking towards her. This startled her since she thought she was alone and she dropped her books. She bent over to pick them up, and when she straightened up the girl was gone. The teacher's aide searched the floor and found no one there. After that day, she refused to go to the second floor by herself. One principal of the school related that he had heard walking on the second floor several times, but when he checked it out no one was there.

It has been reliably reported that you can see two ghostly figures with guns shooting at each other across from the brothels on High Street. It has also been reported that there has been a gray figure running in front of vehicles late at night near First Street. When people look to see where the figure had gone there is no one around. Could this been Constable Gilbert going home to his cabin above the park?

Historical fact: Edwin M. Gilbert, Ely Constable, age 37, was shot in the abdomen and back by F. M. Saunders, age 32, of Texas, and died a few hours later following surgery at the Dillon Hospital (located on Murry Street) in Ely. Gilbert was fatally shot and injured Saturday night, October 12, 1907, in a 2-room crib adjoining the Club Dance Hall in the red light district on West High Street. Officer Gilbert was trying to arrest Saunders for beating and threatening to kill Ruth Deardorff, an Ely prostitute. As Constable Gilbert fell to the floor near the stove, mortally wounded, he discharged his gun and killed Saunders.

The Green Lantern was built in the late fall of 1959 during the mine strike after the City changed its mind about allowing more than one brothel to operate. Whispers persist that the spirit of a prostitute named "Betty" haunts the Green Lantern in a benevolent manner. She was rumored to have been killed by a customer in the 1960's. Apparently, "Betty" appears when a "girl" is depressed and tries to cheer her up or at times to warn the other females that a bad customer is present and they need to take precautions to protect themselves.

Several people have related to me a story of a man seen hitchhiking on Highway 50 in the winter. All of the stories are about the same. Driving towards Ruth in the winter, people have seen a man hitchhiking by the train tunnel just west of Ely. When they have stopped to pick him up, he disappears, leaving no tracks in the snow.

Before the M&B tunnel was built in the early 1900s, there was a mine on the hill that was mined by a miner called Old Abe. Abe was obsessed by the thought of finding gold like they did in Mineral City the year before. He dreamed of making it big and finding a women to spend the rest of time with. He worked every day until late into the evening; he never went out into the sun.

He died late one night when a rock from the mine crushed him. He can still be seen sitting on a rock by the M&B tunnel and Highway 50 looking for a woman to spend eternity with. If you are women, be careful when you go by his rock. Old Abe has been looking for over a 100 years, and he may try to make you to his woman.

The Robinson Canyon Mining District was established in 1868 and several small mines dotted the canyon. Each mine owner wanted to get rich on the gold that was supposed to be in that area. Two friends had moved to this area after not finding much silver in Treasure City like so many people had done. They mined long hours finding only small pieces of gold, not enough to pay the bills. Tempers were starting to become very short with the two friends and late one night sitting by the campfire they got into a horrible fight resulting in one friend shooting the other. To this day, you can still see the campfire and the night when the lust for gold caused one friend to kill the other.

Legend has it that there was a cave-in at the Chainman Mine and ten Chinese workers were trapped. To save money and time the men were left in the mine to die, and another shaft was dug. The bodies were never recovered.

Highway 50 (the loneliest road in America) runs through Lane City west of Ely. It seems to be less lonely in Lane City because many people have sworn to see a line of Chinese ghosts walking across the road on their way home from work.

Historical Fact: While doing core samples in the Chainman Mine area in the 1970s bone fragments were brought up.

In the center of the old town on Lane City stands the Lane City School, which has stood there since the town was in it prime. Throughout the years, this school has been used by the school district for several different purposes. Although it has not been used in quite a few years you can still see the figures and hear the children and their teachers in the playground when you pass by on dark nights.

The Lincoln Highway was one of the first cross-country routes that went from the east to the west during the early years of the automobile. This route ran though White Pine County with a large portion of it following state highway 50 thorough Lane City. One day many years ago, a young couple was going cross county in their new car and trying to cross the railroad tracks that ran across the Lincoln Highway in Lane City. Unfortunately, their car stalled on the tracks and they were unable to get out of the vehicle before an ore train coming from Ruth hit the vehicle. When help responded to the accident, they found the women had been thrown from the vehicle and had died instantly, but the young man was still alive.

The young man was taken to the White Pine hospital in Ely where he died later that day. It has been reported that you can see the ghostly figure of the young women at this crossing looking for her young husband.

Just before you get to Keystone Corner on Highway 50, you will see a very small cabin built into the Keystone Hill. This is the Honeymoon Cabin that was used by many people in the past when they were first married and did not have enough money for a cabin of their own. It seems that at least one husband and wife loved the cabin enough to be staying there to this day. Going east on Highway 50 if you look over the side you may see these two young people in front of the cabin where they first started their lives together.

Mining was only done for a short period at Keystone Corner by the New York and Nevada Consolidated Company. However, during this short time it built up a bloody history. In the early 1900's, the union was just moving into the mines at Copper Flat, and tempers flared on both sides.

One day the general manager and his secretary were meeting with five workers over a labor dispute. In the heat of anger the general manager shot at the workers, killing two immediately, and wounding two (one died later at the Steptoe Hospital). Although an investigation was made, the general manager was found to be defending himself even though the workers were not armed.

It is said that sometimes at night if you drive around Keystone Corner and listen you can still hear the men yelling and the sound of the general manager shooting his victims.

THIS INFORMATION WAS TAKEN FROM OPERATION BLUE BOOK, an Official United States Air Force Book on UFO sightings and crashes. Aug 14, 1952 a disc crashed near Ely, NV, and 16 bodies were recovered. A security officer for Kennecott Copper in Ruth swore that he witnessed this event and was sworn to secrecy by the government. It seems that ghosts are not the only ones that like White Pine County.

For those of you that have lived in White Pine County for many years you know that there are many times during the year that the snow is so bad that you can't get to Ely from Ruth. There are rumors that during the winter months people were buried near highway 44A because they were unable to get them to Ely. Late in the night, people have seen the graves, and seen visions of people standing by the graves.

Just below the bridge on County Road, 44A are the railroad tracks where the ore was transported on. It you sit close to the bridge, sometimes you can still hear the sounds of the ore cars traveling back and fourth to the pit, and the sounds of the men around them.

Historical Fact: November 9, 1912, Charles Kendrick was killed while trying to board a moving train. March 25, 1913, an ore car killed Tony Bonecke, and William LaPoint.

A security officer for Kennecott Copper was driving up County Road 44A toward Old Ruth late one night. When he got to the bridge that crosses over the railroad tracks, he saw a man trying to wave him down.

When he pulled to the side of the road, he noticed an abnormally tall man, dressed all in black looking down at him with red eyes that glowed in the dark. Needless to say, the security officer did not stay around to see what the man wanted.

Deep Ruth Shaft is an underground mine that sits just off County Road 44A. There are stores that the Deep Ruth Shaft has claimed the lives of several men throughout its history. One story is that a man was beheaded when he was doing repair work on the line that would take men down into the shaft; unfortunately, it took people two days to find his head. It has been said that you can still see a headless man walking around the area looking for his head. (Or maybe any head will do.)

In the 1960s, a man was driving through Old Ruth on his way home from work. On the road up ahead he noticed a woman in white along side of the road. Thinking that it was someone that needed help he pulled over. It only took a moment for him to realize that this figure was not of this world. He speeded up, wanting to get out of this area as soon as possible, but when he looked in his rear view mirror, he noticed the spirit following him. This figure is still seen around highway 44 and highway 44A.

Just above the town of Old Ruth there used to sit a mineshaft called the Star Pointer. On July 7, 1912, there was a premature explosion of mine powder. Ten men were killed in this disaster, and it took several days of digging to remove the bodies of the victims. People that have worked in the pit that is now there have stated that they have heard the sounds of frantic digging and yelling of the workers trying to save their friends.

Further on down the valley where the Veteran pit is now, there was a mineshaft called the Giroux or Alpha Mine. Giroux Consolidated Mining Company owned it. On August 21, 1911, a fire broke out at the 1200-foot level killing seven men, and injuring several more. It has been said that you can still hear the horrible cries of the miners and two miners trying to dig their way out.

As you ride the Haunted Ghost Train, you just might see Old Abe, Brothel Betty, and other spooks. Come in costume and join the fun. These stories were researched and copyrighted by Mary Sorenson. They are used with Mary's permission. If you would like your own copy of these stories and have stories to add e-mail Mary at marynev@sbcglobal.net.

 

 

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