Nevada Northern Railway
National Historic Landmark      Ely, NV

Be a part of the photo-line<br> as the vintage NNRY equipment works for you
Full head of steam out of East Ely
93, Wrecking crane, and outfit car
We have been asked if it ever snows in Ely for the Winter photo shoots
What could be finer?  You are actually standing right here, taking this picture.
Locomotive 40 and her original passenter cars <br>have been together on this rail for over a century
Call to Action!<br>Send out Locomotive 93 with the wrecking crane
93 working the grade out of East Ely yard.

Winter Steam Photo Weekend Spectacular

Historic Railroad Steam Engines, Rolling Stock, and Maintenance Equipment

Fast Facts

WHO: Avid railroad photographers from around the world come to Ely for the annual photo shoot.

WHEN: First two weekends in February. Three days, Friday through Sunday

WHAT: Most all of our vintage locomotives and rolling stock will be in operation. Organized run-bys, night photo ops, and working equipment demonstrations.

BRING: Cameras, tripod, and warm clothes.

HOW:  Reserve your weekend here

If you think you were born one hundred years too late to witness the glory of steam railroading, then I have good news for you: you weren't. There still exists a place where steam locomotives rule the rails.

Hidden away in the high desert of east central Nevada is a time capsule like no other, the Nevada Northern Railway National Historic Landmark. Annually during the first two weekends in February, time travel is possible. Come to Ely Nevada, set your watch back a century, and photograph railroading as it was in the last century.

The Nevada Northern Railway is not a mishmash of equipment from different railroads or different countries, nor is the equipment prettified or garish. This is the original railroad equipment in the original paint schemes in the original setting, on the original Nevada Northern Railway mainline.  All of this equipment has been on the property for decades, and some if it more than a century, all of it still operating on the original track that was graded and laid a century ago.

This was the time when steam moved mountains. The real business of this railroad was copper and copper was king! It was the reason that the railroad was built in the first place and ore trains ran day and night, year round. The demand for copper was insatiable. It was the miracle metal that made all of the newfangled inventions, such as the electric light and the telephone, possible. Today our trains still move from the mine to the mill—steam powered, of course.

What can you expect during the photo shoots? World-class photographic opportunities, steam locomotives pulling vintage freight and passenger cars that are original to the railroad. Here, trains are still made up with wooden cars whose origins date back as far as 1872. The crews will be in period dress, adding to the experience.

So why come to Ely in the winter? If you think that Steam locomotive 93 looks good on an 85-degree day in August but wait till you see it on a frosty February day. Billowing white clouds of steam plus plumes of black & gray smoke towering above the canyons and valleys. Snow? Weather here can be capricious! It can range from blizzard conditions to cobalt blue skies sometimes within minutes. In the past we've experienced every type of meteorological conditions that wintertime Ely experiences, including shirtsleeve weather. But regardless of the weather, the show goes on.

Participants have won numerous photo contests, recording timeless scenes of a historical railroad that are second to none. Many of the "Winter Spectacular" photos rival the best that National Geographic has to offer.
NNRY Wrecking Crane
Of course locomotives, rolling stock and tracks are a big and obvious part of this railroad. But its just part of what makes a railroad work. You also need the infrastructure: Enginehouse, machine shop, carpenter shop, blacksmith shop, depot and dispatcher building. Oh and don't forget, the locomotives go nowhere without stopping at the coaling tower and water standpipes. We have those too, the original ones!

Considered by William L. Withuhn, Curator emeritus, History of Technology and Transportation at the Smithsonian Institution, "Among all railroad historic sites anywhere in North America, the Nevada Northern Railway complex at East Ely is-no question in my view-the most complete, most authentic, and best cared-for, bar none. It's a living American treasure and a stand-out one. Historic tracks, original depot and office building, Enginehouse, Freight Station, three original steam locomotives, five historic and rare wooden passenger cars, Kennecott diesel engines, 60 early freight cars, working machine shop, foundry-even the coaling tower and water tower that are icons of the site-everything is still there."

We'll have steam pulling a wooden passenger train made up of a RPO/baggage car and passenger car. Should there be a mishap on the tracks here, we'll send for the big hook; a century old operating steam powered wrecking crane. This wrecking crane is pulled by a century old 2-8-0 steam locomotive that looks like it just rolled out of the American Locomotive Company shops. The wreck train consists of the crane, flat car, tool car, outfit car and, of course, a caboose. Of course, once the tracks are cleared, it's time to get on with the business of railroading. Freight trains can once again roll and so will ore trains. Most of the freight in the last century moved in boxcars. No self respecting railroad would be without boxcars - and the N. N. Ry is no different. A fleet of wooden boxcars with arch-bar trucks, built in 1912 are in top condition and are ready for their next load.

Take a look at the review written by Robert W. Scott of Trains Magazine.

We are offering "Steam, Steel and Strobes" Scholarships for two applicants, age 18-30.  Details here.

View more details here:

Winter Steam Spectacular 2018MemberNon-Member
Either Weekend$408 $480
Both Weekends$765 $900
Feb 9-11 or Feb 16-18 2018

Members receive discounts. Memberships start at $30.
No other discounts apply to this experience.

Book your experience today. This event usually sell out.

Dates and Tickets for Winter Steam Spectacular

Fri, Feb 9th 1:00pm
Fri, Feb 16th 1:00pm

Advanced reservations are strongly suggested since this event usually sells out.
Do not drive to Ely unless you have a confirmed reservation.

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Comments from those who have done this (3)

Topic: photoshoot
4/5 (5)
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
Gretchen (Nevada) says...
I had a terrific experience at the 2017 Winter Steam Shoot. It was fantastic learning more about trains and being around a group of people who were so passionate about photographing them. The NNRY staff were wonderful hosts, very patient with doing lots of run-bys so we could get the perfect photo and willing to take suggestions on how to get a composition an individual wanted. I wasn't sure what I was getting into when I signed up for the weekend, and it exceeded all my expectations.
14th March 2017 8:58pm
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
Wayne (Idaho) says...
This is a great event. I which I could make it back there every year. We get a really close look at some of the best historic railroad equipment in the country working in the snow and cold.
1st February 2017 7:23am
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