Nevada Northern Railway Museum

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Nevada Northern Railway East Ely Yards, East Ely Depot
Nevada Northern Museum.jpg
Passenger train operated by the Nevada Northern Railway Museum, at the Museum's East Ely depot, September 2007.
Nevada Northern Railway Museum is located in Nevada
Nevada Northern Railway Museum
Nevada Northern Railway Museum is located in the US
Nevada Northern Railway Museum
Location Ely, Nevada
Coordinates 39°15′33″N 114°52′6″W / 39.25917°N 114.86833°W / 39.25917; -114.86833Coordinates: 39°15′33″N 114°52′6″W / 39.25917°N 114.86833°W / 39.25917; -114.86833
Area 40 acres (16 ha)
Built 1905
Architect Frederick Hale
Architectural style Late 19th And 20th Century Revivals
NRHP reference # 93000693 (yards), 84002082 (depot)
Significant dates
Added to NRHP July 29, 1993[1] (yards), April 12, 1984[2] (depot)
Designated NHLD September 20, 2006[3]
East Ely Depot, built in 1907 for the Nevada Northern Railway.

The Nevada Northern Railway Museum is a railroad museum located in Ely, Nevada and operated by a historic foundation dedicated to the preservation of the Nevada Northern Railway.

Museum activities include restoration and operation of historic railroad equipment, steam-powered excursions throughout the year, winter photo shoots, locomotive rentals, hand car races, lectures, an annual railroad history symposium, changing exhibits, a resident reality camp,[4] and a variety of special events.[5]

Location and history[edit]

The museum is situated at the East Ely Yards, which are part of the Nevada Northern Railway. The site is listed on the United States National Register of Historic Places as the Nevada Northern Railway East Ely Yards and Shops and is also known as the "Nevada Northern Railway Complex". The rail yards were designated a National Historic Landmark District on September 27, 2006.[3] The site was cited as one of the best-preserved early 20th-century railroad yards in the nation, and a key component in the growth of the region's copper mining industry. Developed in the first decade of the 20th century, it served passengers and freight until 1983, when the Kennecott Copper Company, its then-owner, donated the yard to a local non-profit for preservation. The property came complete with all of the company records of the Nevada Northern from its inception.[6]


The museum collection includes three steam locomotives, an electric locomotive, and several diesel-electric locomotives, as well as a collection of maintenance equipment and numerous historic freight and passenger rail cars. Usually two of the steam locomotives are in operation in regularly scheduled events throughout the year. Check the web site for details.[7]

The museum also maintains an extensive fleet of its original rolling stock, including passenger cars, wood-side box cars, ore cars, and work trains, all dating from the 1910s. It has the oldest operating tank car and the oldest operating coal-fired steam crane on any American railroad.[7]

During the 2002 Winter Olympics, held in Salt Lake City, the railroad was part of the Olympic Steam Team, carrying spectators to the Soldier Hollow Olympic venue. The railroad's No. 93 steam-engine, joined Utah's Heber Valley Railroad's Nos. 618 and 75 steam-engines, in pulling eight-car trains full of passengers, to the Soldier Hollow depot where they disembarked and continued to the venue entrance on a horse-drawn sleigh.[8] The day prior to the Opening Ceremony of the games, all three locomotives were combined into one triple-headed train, and used to transport the Olympic flame from Soldier Hollow to Heber City, Utah as part of the torch relay.[9]

Depot building[edit]

The East Ely Depot served passengers on the Nevada Northern. The Mission Revival style depot was designed by Frederick Hale and built in 1907. It reflects a standardized vernacular that borrows primarily from the Mission Revival style, as well as from Renaissance Revival.

The two story depot is set on a stone foundation. The ground floor is rusticated stone, separated from the upper level by a painted stone belt course, with a stuccoed second story. The gables are curvilinear in the accepted Mission Revival style. The well-preserved interior retains separate men's and women's waiting rooms, with baggage and express rooms. Offices are on the second floor.[10]

The depot was a significant location on the Nevada Northern as the chief embarkation point for the copper mining region of White Pine County. The location of the depot was a matter of controversy between the railroad and residents of Ely, who successfully sued the railroad to change the depot's name from Ely to East Ely to reflect its distance from the main townsite. The railroad, originally owned by the Nevada Consolidated Copper Company, was transferred to the Kennecott Copper Company in 1933 when it took over Consolidated's mining operations. Passenger service on the Nevada Northern stopped in 1941,[10] and the depot was used for Kennecott offices until 1985. The state of Nevada acquired the depot in 1990 for the museum.

The East Ely Depot was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.[2]

Special event trains[edit]

At periodic times or seasons, the museum operates the following special event trains:[5]

Rockin' & Rollin' Geology Train[edit]

This special event train excursion features presentations by local geologists covering railroad & mining history with a show and tell of ore samples from the Robinson Nevada Mining District. The event includes an authentic miner-style dinner - a beef and potato and Cornish pasty. Reservations are suggested.

BBQ Express[edit]

This dinner train features a real western BBQ - on rails. Seating is usually limited. Reservations are suggested.

Wild West Limited[edit]

This steam train excursion includes cowboys and cowboy grub. Watch your wallet - this train may just be held up!

Steptoe Valley Flyer[edit]

This museum-highlight train travels back in time to deliver a classic railroad experience. The Steptoe Valley Flyer was the train that carried 4.5 million passengers from 1906 to 1941 to White Pine County, Nevada. Departing from the original depot, passengers board the original first-class passenger car #5 (built in 1882) behind baggage/railway US Post Office car #20 (built in 1906) and steam locomotive #40 (built in 1910). Reservations are suggested for these much-in-demand trips. An emigrant's meal is served.

Haunted Ghost Trains[edit]

Riders should prepare themselves for a scary trip on a haunted train. Ghost stories come alive as local volunteers create a thematic experience for all those aboard. Zombies, ghosts, ghouls, aliens and even Bigfoot could appear at any time![11]

Polar Express[edit]

This Christmas seasonal train is one of the highlights of the year. The Polar Express heads to the "North Pole" to visit with Santa Claus. On the trip, volunteers serve hot chocolate and cookies as they read the story the Polar Express. Reservations are suggested for these much-in-demand trips.

Heritage railroad[edit]

The museum operates a short rail line that was formerly owned by the Nevada Northern Railway as a heritage railroad. This line was called the "Ore Line" and the museum runs excursion trains westward from Ely to Ruth, and northeast from Ely to the vicinity of McGill. One of the trains is advertised as the Ghost Train of Old Ely.

In popular culture[edit]

The depot building was used for scenes in the 2001 film, Rat Race.[12][13] The museum appeared in a 2010 episode of Modern Marvels, titled "Super Steam."[14] The museum also appeared in six episodes of American Restoration,[15][16] and was referenced in a 2017 episode of The Big Bang Theory.[17] The Railroad's locomotive #40 was featured prominently in the 2017 J-pop music video "Black Train" by artists Tsuyoshi Nagabuchi, with the artist riding the front of the locomotive while singing.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ a b National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  3. ^ a b "Nevada Northern Railway, East Ely Yards". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Archived from the original on 2010-09-16. Retrieved 2007-10-03. 
  4. ^ "Railroad Reality Week". Nevada Northern Railway Museum. Retrieved November 11, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "Special Event Trains". Nevada Northern Railway Museum. Retrieved November 11, 2012. 
  6. ^ "NHL nomination for Nevada Northern Railway East Ely Yards and Shops". National Park Service. Retrieved 2017-03-20. 
  7. ^ a b "Roster of Museum Equipment". Nevada Northern Railway Museum. Retrieved November 11, 2012. 
  8. ^ Salt Lake Organizing Committee (2001). Official Spectator Guide. p. 211. 
  9. ^ Keith Albrandt (2002). "Salt Lake City 2002 XIX Olympic Winter Games Steam Team". Nevada Northern & Railroads of White Pine County website. Archived from the original on 20 April 2011. Retrieved 7 January 2011. 
  10. ^ a b Rajala, Karen (August 11, 1983). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination: East Ely Depot". National Park Service. Retrieved 2009-05-21. 
  11. ^ "Halloween Train of Ely". Nevada Northern Railway Museum. Retrieved November 11, 2012. 
  12. ^ Perkins, Broderick (2006-05-02). "Mining For Bargain-Basement Investments In Ely, NV". Realty Times. Retrieved 2017-03-10. 
  13. ^ "Rat Race: About The Production". Cinema Review. Retrieved 2017-03-10. 
  14. ^ "A chance to work on the railroad". Elko Daily. 2010-08-26. Retrieved 2017-03-10. 
  15. ^ "Nevada Northern Featured on American Restoration". Nevada Northern Railway. Archived from the original on 2017-03-09. 
  16. ^ Bassett, Mark (2015-01-09). "A look back at the year that was for the Nevada Northern Railway". The Ely Times. Retrieved 2017-03-10. 
  17. ^ "Northern Nevada Railway gets shout out on CBS Big Bang Theory show". The Ely Times. 2017-02-24. Archived from the original on 2017-03-09. 
  18. ^ Tsuyoshhi Nagabuchi (July 2017). Black Train (Music) (in Japanese). Japan: Universal Music Japan. 

External links[edit]