Nevada Northern Railway
National Historic Landmark     Ely, NV 

Walking Tour of the East Ely Yard Complex

Walk in the footsteps of history here


Fast Facts

WHAT: Walking tour of the historic East Ely Yard and Shop complex.

WHY: Aclaimed as the best preserved and most original example of an American railroad facility.

WHEN: Daily (except Tuesdays in off-season, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Day, New Years Eve and Day.  Arive prior to 4pm (3pm on Sunday).

WHERE: Tickets available at the depot, 1100 Avenue A  Ely, NV (at the end of  E.11th Street, off of US 93)

DON'T FORGET: Sturdy walking shoes, hat, sunscreen.

Stepping back in time:

You can walk back to a time when the iron horse ruled the rails. Today, the Nevada Northern Railway is the last of its kind - the sole survivor from a grand era of railroading in the Silver State. Now a National Historic Landmark, it is America's best preserved short-line railroad and most complete rail facility still in existence.

The Nevada Northern Railway is a living, breathing, operating historic railroad.  Sometimes it's gritty, sometimes it's dirty, and sometimes it smells of coal smoke, creosote and sweat.  Locomotives whistle off, cars clang as they are coupled together and wheels squeal as the locomotive is turned on the wye.   When it comes to American Railroad Heritage, this is as real as it gets.

Starting your tour:

Begin your walking tour at the main depot at the end of 11th Street in Ely. When you register at the ticket window you will be given the Walking Tour Passport. It points out highlights of the history that is here.

As you step out of the station and onto the train platform take a moment to put yourself back 100 years. Think about what it would be like if you were one of the recent immigrants to Central Nevada. You remember that it was only a few months ago that you first set foot in town onto this very platform. You completed the last hundred miles of your long journey in that very same railway coach sitting over across the yard today. You were pulled by the very same steam engine that is getting ready to pull the passenger train trip this afternoon.

Looking to the left you see the Freighthouse.  This was a beehive of activity. It was the place where merchants sent their wagons to pick up wares. Think of it as the 1910 version of Costco.  Beyond that, down by the Enginhouse you see the Railroad's original storehouse. There wasn't FedEx back then, so parts needed for the steam locomotives had better be in stock in that storehouse. When parts had to be fabricated they would be made in the main shop with belt-driven lathes and drills.  Regularly locomotives would be pulled into the enginehouse for a quick pit-stop-style maintenance, then dispatched back out on the line. It is all here for you to explore.

This was what it was like.  This is how America was built.  This is how copper was prepared for the industrial process, and how all of the people associated with this industry lived their lives.  This story was replicated throughout the land. Ely produced copper.  Other towns produced steal. Some produced coal. Some made valves, levers, chutes, blowers, timers, drills, cans, needles, pipes, cloth, or books.

Realistically, Ely was just a cog in the big picture of America's Industrial Strength.  The only thing that makes Ely and the Nevada Northern Railway unique is that it was passed over as this era came to an end since it was so remote.  At first it was preserved by neglect.  Now this treasure is preserved by conscious effort.  So come, walk through history with us.

Map of the East Ely yard
Map of the East Ely Yard.       Click to enlarge.

Safety First:

Safety First -- The Ely Route

You are welcome to experience this firsthand by exploring the railway.  Before you start your explorations, take a look at the historic logo of the Nevada Northern Railway.  Prominent on the logo is the motto of the railroad—Safety First.   There is a reason for the motto: railroading is dangerous. A moment's inattention can cause serious injuries or death.   At one time railroading was the most dangerous occupation in the country.  You are welcome to explore what is the best-preserved, standard gauge, short line railroad left in America.  As you explore the complex, please remember Safety First, and these common-sense rules:

1. Stand back at least six feet from any moving equipment.   When a train approaches, move away, hold hands with your children, make eye contact with the crew to let them know you are ready to be safe as they pass. 

2. Do not park or walk on any track or closer than six feet to any track.

3. Do not climb on any of the equipment.

4. Look both ways each time you crossing a track; a train could be moving on any track, at any time, and in either direction.

5. Do not enter any of the railway buildings unless museum personnel are present.

6. Do not pick up, move, or collect any artifacts (natural or man-made) that are scattered throughout the grounds.

7. There is no smoking allowed on the railway equipment or grounds except in designated smoking areas.

8. Wear comfortable closed-toe shoes and clothing you don't mind getting a little dirty.  This is a real, working railway, so expect to see some oil, dirt, grease, and soot as you expore.

9. Pets are not allowed on trains or on the tours.  The railway is an industrial site that may have some grease, oil, or material fragments that are incompatible with your pet's paws.

10. If you have a question, just ask any of the staff or volunteers.

11. Enjoy yourself as you step back in time!

2014 Ticket Prices
2014 Ticket PricesAdultChild(4-12)Infant (Under 3)2nd Train Ride
Admission to Museum$6 $3 FreeN/A
Admission and Guided Tour$10 $6 FreeN/A
Train Ride + Tour + Admission$27 $16 Free1/2 Price
Ride with the Engineer(Cab Ride)$135 n/a n/a1/2 Price
Ride in the Caboose$37$27Free1/2 Price
Annual Pass$59$29

Members receive discounts. Memberships start at $30

Comments from others who have done this (2)

Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star 5/5 (2)
Facebookdel.icio.usStumbleUponDiggGoogle+TwitterLinkedIn
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
JR (tremontonut) says...
Had a great time. Loved the train ride and the tour of the yards and shops. We will be coming back again to see changes and improvements!
19th March 2014 5:57pm
RSS This Page   RSS All Pages
Page 1 of 1

Have you done this? Post your comments here.....

Click here to open the comment form

-