June 24 – July 26, 2021
The next morning, we arose early, packed up and drove over to the Nevada Northern Railway Museum situated at the East Ely Yards. They were designated a National Historic Landmark District in 2006 and the site was cited as one of the best-preserved early 20th-century railroad yards in the nation, as well as 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.
The museum collection includes four of the railroad’s original 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. Two of the steam locomotives, #40 (the official State Locomotive of Nevada) and #93, are in operation in regularly scheduled events throughout the year; with #81 currently under restoration to operating condition. 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.
Our first stop was the East Ely Depot which served passengers and its Mission Revival style was designed by Frederick Hale in 1907. Its well-preserved interior retains separate men’s and women’s waiting rooms, with baggage and express rooms.
Offices on the second floor were the key to visiting this building as when passenger service on the Nevada Northern stopped in 1941, the depot was used for Kennecott Copper offices until 1985. The offices were then left with all of their equipment in place and remained in that state to this day. It was reminiscent of our tour of the Battleship North Carolina in Wilmington, which was decommissioned in 1947, and left completely in the state it was in at that time.
The state of Nevada acquired the depot in 1990 for the museum and it made for a fascinating glimpse into how those who worked in the building managed their tasks. Of particular interest was the Traffic Department, where an individual sat at a desk and monitored all of the activity in the yard, the equivalent of today’s air traffic controller.
We left the Depot and made our way to the Machine Shop and Engine House, the best part of the self-guided tour. This is not a pristine keep your distance kind of place but instead a real working maintenance shop with signage warning visitors to watch out for uneven surfaces and open pits in the floor. The first room you enter is the maintenance shop with one locomotive and one boxcar in place to have work done.
We said hi to two of the maintenance men and moved on to the next larger room which is the storage area for the bulk of the museum’s locomotives and other rolling stock. As we did so we pondered how those two mechanics learned their trade (they were both elderly and likely at the end of their careers) in this day of non-steam powered locomotion.
Where does one get the opportunity to work on one of these old workhorses? Particularly in an out of the way place like Ely?
No ready answer was apparent and so we continued, exiting the building and walking back towards the Depot, stopping at the Ice House to read the description there and eventually returning to the car for the drive to Meadview and a two night with Aunt Agnes (Aggie) and Uncle Dick (Jim to his friends). Of my Father’s four siblings (Ruth and Shirley), only Dick and his younger brother Chuck (Paul, don’t ask about my family’s odd affinity for nicknames) are still alive (my dad passed in 2006) so we always look forward to connecting with this relative who was and still is an important part of my life.
Our time in Meadview would be relaxing as there isn’t much to do, it was July and hotter than you know what, and Uncle Dick edging towards 90-years old, they don’t get out much. We made a traditional run or two to the VFW Hall for drinks and had a nice dinner at the Boathouse Café and Grill, where I landed on the Philly Cheesesteak and Joanna enjoyed her special of the day, the pulled pork burrito.
Before we left for Henderson, I was gifted with some family memorabilia, including a photo of my Great Grandfather’s (my dad sits on his lap) extended family, with my grandfather Paul standing in the last row on the right edge, my grandmother Edith sitting below him and my Aunt Ruth standing next to her.
The last three nights of our journey would be spent with Kim and Marty at their place in Henderson, but first we’d head to east Las Vegas to meet up with Miriam and Aaron to join them for a gymnastics/dance a recital their two kids would be performing at AGC Las Vegas. Aaron is a longtime friend who I rode with for many years in our bike club, MDRCC and it had been almost two years since we last saw each other, even though we don’t live that far apart in Los Angeles.
Before meeting them at a nearby Starbucks, we stopped for food at one of my guilty pleasures, Panda Express, which I recognize is not really Chinese food, but I like it none the less as it is a concept that thrives on both of the campuses I worked at. Then spending an hour with Miriam and Aaron before the recital allowed us to catch up and enjoy the recital unhindered before bidding them farewell and moving on to Henderson.
Our first night would be filled with an outing to Spring Mountain Ranch State Park for that evening’s Super Summer Theater outdoor performance of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown with Kim, Marty, Brenda and Ken. Faithful readers of the blog will recall our night out last May when we took in the theater groups presentation of Dino, Frank, Judy, and Babs (https://3jmann.com/2021/06/27/hot-springs-2021-part-four/). We stopped at Capriotti’s for sandwiches to eat at the venue, then arrived, set up our chairs, and managed to stay mostly awake through a play that honestly, doesn’t make much sense.
The rest of the weekend would be spent indoors watching the first events of this year’s summer Olympics as average daily temperatures hovered well above 100-degrees. We enjoyed a nice dinner on Sunday at Nora’s Italian Cuisine (I finally got good Italian since I missed out in Boise) and then on the way out of town on Monday, we had one of the finer breakfast outings of recent memory at CRAFTkitchen.
Joanna and I split a Chile Relleno Omelet (cage-free eggs, battered green chile, pepper jack cheese, New Mexican Sauce, Spanish rice, lime crema, and micro cilantro) and a Apple Sea Salt Caramel Kougin (Kouign) Amann. This unique pastry features a laminated dough that creates many flaky layers similar to a croissant whose dough is enriched with milk and butter; unlike the true Kouign Amann which is made with what’s known to bakers as a “lean” dough (a simple mixture of yeast, flour, salt, and water, with no fat or sweetener).
Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of the meal so will have to rely on memory alone, which now wants me to drive straight there and eat that food again. And thus ended our month-long sojourn, one that took us to areas of the western United States that we’d not visited, had us experience yet another great Adventure Cycling Tour, let us see friends and family and best of all enjoy all kinds of wonderful food and drink. In two months, we would take off for an even longer trip, this one to the east coast and that series will start with the next post.
Nevada Northern Railway Museum: https://nnry.com/
Battleship North Carolina: https://www.battleshipnc.com/
Boathouse Café and Grill: http://www.meadviewboathouse.com/
AGC Las Vegas: https://www.agclasvegas.com/
Spring Mountain Ranch: http://parks.nv.gov/parks/spring-mountain-ranch
Super Summer Theater: https://supersummertheatre.org/
Nora’s Italian Cuisine: http://norascuisine.com/