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Winter Photo Opportunities on the Nevada Northern Railway

The kids are barely back in school and we have had our first frost. The railroad is now turning its thoughts to winter. This winter there are four opportunities to photograph the Nevada Northern Railway. The four shoots are different in scope; in other words, we are offering something for everyone.

The first opportunity is scheduled for November 10-14. The event is the Industrial Heritage Photographic Workshop put on by Gordon Osmundson and the Nevada Northern Railway. This three plus day event will focus on using large format cameras and composing photos. Photographers will be able to roam the rail yard and have access to the many buildings that make up the National Historic District. The museum will also steam up locomotive 93 and position the locomotive through out the yard. Scenes will be staged at the water plug, the coaling tower, the enginehouse, and the depot. Number 93 will also hook up to a vintage ore train and head out on the line. More details on this event are available here.

Then on the morning of December 4th and the afternoon of December 5th the museum is having its Winter Photo Freight. The coordinators of this shoot are John West and Gordon Osmundson, award-winning photographers. The idea here is to take advantage of the fact that we are running the Polar Express Trains in the afternoon and we already have locomotive 93 steamed up. This will let photographers take advantage of an opportunity of being able to photograph steam in the winter. We will be running photo freights with a night photo shoot, too. We will be using our antique equipment, which we will hook up to 93. Included in the collection are boxcars, ore cars, and ballast cars with a caboose to create a freight train from the 20’s and 30’s. Some of the equipment is fragile enough, where we will do runby’s only in the yard. Saturday evening there will be a night photo shoot at the enginehouse.

The combination of two photo freights and three passenger trains should provide a lot of opportunities for watching and photographing steam. And the cool weather will ensure dramatic steam effects. The freights will depart East Ely at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday and at noon on Sunday. The plan is for one freight to operate to Keystone, the other up the Hiline to Adverse, but specifics will depend on the weather to maximize the best photo opportunities. The Polar Expresses will depart at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, and at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday. Steam locomotive 93 will pull all trains. The night photo shoot will begin at 6:00 p.m. at the enginehouse. The cost to participate in the photo shoot is twenty-five dollars for one day or forty dollars for both days.

The next opportunity is the 6th Annual Nevada Northern Railway Photo Shoot or what we like to call the Winter Steam Spectacular. Joel Jensen, another award-wining photographer, is the coordinator of this event. And in Joel’s own words�

“If you like steam, have we got it for you! Both steam locomotives 93, a 2-8-0 built in 1909 and 40, 4-6-0 built in 1910 will be running! Clouds and clouds of it, once again, our railroad will strut its stuff in sub-zero degree weather (or close to it). Snow? We’ve had it on previous winter spectaculars, 6 inches of it during the 1999 version. Sub-zero? We hit -5 in 2001, and you should have seen the frost on the sagebrush. Sun? How about cobalt blue skies during the shoot. Point being, we’ve offered up just about every type of meteorological conditions that wintertime Ely experiences, including shirtsleeve weather.

Why do we offer such a photo adventure during winter months? Because we want our participants to get the best shots possible. If you think that #93 and #40 look good on an 85-degree day in August, wait till you see them on a zero degree-day in February. They look pretty good in a snowstorm too, billowing white clouds of steam plus plumes of black & gray smoke that tower above the canyons and valleys.

This year’s trip will feature, as always, a truly historical Nevada Northern ore train, pulled by #93. And together for the first time since 1995, #40 with her train consisting of Baggage/RPO 20 and First Class Coach 5!

We’re talking 100% NNRY authentic. No modern day cars or caboose. How many RR museums can match this level of authenticity? Very few. Remember the Nevada Northern Railway yards at East Ely are recognized as a National Historic District.

We will start on Friday afternoon with some yard shots and then the night photo shoot. The night photo shoot we will be extensive. (A tripod is a must.) We will try something new, along with shots of #93 in front of and inside the engine house, and/or depot and coal tower.

We will operate all day Saturday and most of Sunday, stopping often to allow participants the opportunity to record photo run-bys. We’ll begin early both days—approximately 7:30 a.m., and we will spend considerable time shooting our train in the historical East Ely rail yards, as well as out on the Hiline and Keystone Routes.

As always, we will provide you with plenty of food, including the Saturday night banquet steak dinner at the East Ely depot. The Saturday dinner, breakfast, lunch, and snacks are included in your train fare.

Bottom Line? World-class photography. NNRy Winter Steam Photo Spectacular participants have won numerous photo contests, recording timeless scenes of a historical railroad that is second to none. Many of the “Winter Spectacular” photos that I’ve seen rival the best that National Geographic has to offer.You’ll freeze your butt off (hopefully), but we’ll keep the fires burning in the caboose and First Class Coach 5. True, you may have to have your frostbitten fingers, toes, and nose amputated . . . but when you see your photos, you will be glad that you gave up a body part or two for images that will last a lifetime.”

Joel may sound a little excited, but photographs from this shoot have won awards around the country.

Carl Franz is organizing the last photo shoot. This shoot is schedule for February 11th through the 16th. This is a joint photo shoot using both the Nevada Northern and the Heber Valley railroads. There will be opportunities to photograph four different steam locomotives: Nevada Northern Railway locomotives 93 and 40 along with Heber Valley locomotives 618 and 75 in one trip.

There you have it, four opportunities to witness steam locomotives in the winter.

1.     The Industrial Heritage Photographic Workshop, November 10-14th.
2.     The Winter Photo Freight, December 4th & 5th.
3.     Winter Steam Spectacular, February 4th, 5th, and 6th.
4.     Nevada Northern Railway & Heber Valley Photo Shoot, February 11-16.

Each opportunity has a different emphasis. In any event, there will be plenty of steam and smoke with the exhaust nice and sharp as it reverberates off the canyon walls. These trips will provide a world-class show. For more information contact the museum at (866) 407-8326.

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Hours of Operation

Monday - Saturday | 8AM - 5PM
Sunday | 8AM - 4PM

Our Location

1100 Ave A, Ely, NV 89301

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