Ely is the seat of White Pine County, and the gateway to Great Basin National Park. It is a small pleasant city famous for its many marvelous murals and for the Nevada Northern Railway (more romantically "The Ghost Train"), surrounded by vast natural beauty with abundant food and lodging choices.
There are always a variety of great events and happenings in Ely, but August especially has something for everyone. The month kicks off with Fun Friday, August 5, in downtown Ely at the corner of 7th and Aultman Street. The highlight of the August Fun Friday is the Chili Cook-off, sponsored by the White Pine Chamber of Commerce. People pay $5 to taste each of the entries and then vote on their favorite in the People’s Choice award. Judges also taste each of the entries and choose the first, second, and third place winners. Cash prizes are awarded. Live entertainment, vendors and give- a-ways, all spotlighted by KDSS Radio, make for a great afternoon of fun.
On Saturday, August 6, the BristleconeArts in the Park Festival opens at the Courthouse Park in downtown Ely. Held on the first weekend of August each year, this event attracts vendors from everywhere to display their beautiful creations ranging from paintings to wood and metal crafts, and many more kinds of original art. The event opens Saturday and runs through Sunday afternoon. Also during the weekend, is the Annual Sagebrush Quilters Quilt Show, held across the street from the County Park in the White Pine Middle School. Dozens of beautiful quilts are on display. Raffles and voting for the favorites are part of the fun.
The second weekend of August is the White Pine Rodders Annual Car Show. Classic and antique vehicles of all kinds are on display at the County Park. People can enjoy the cars while talking to the owners and getting tips on their own restoration projects. What a great way to spend the day enjoying the fresh outdoor summer day.
The third weekend of August is the Annual White Pine County Fair and Horse Races. The fair is a chance to see the entries of art and craft, food, floral, and all the projects by the 4-H contestants. Race times begin at 1:00 pm on both Saturday and Sunday, and para-mutual betting lets the fans put their money on their favorite horse. Food, entertainment, vendors, and displays are all there to be enjoyed. The Annual Ely Volunteer Fire Department and Cattlewomen’s BBQ features pit roasted beef and all the tasty treats of a great cookout. Tickets are available locally and at the event. The White Pine Ranch Rodeo is held on Saturday, also featuring the best in roping and team events. A golf tournament provides additional play for the weekend. The 4–H Live Stock auction is held on Sunday and wraps up a great weekend.
The fourth weekend of August is the opening of the Renaissance Village Farmers Market on Saturday at 10:00 a.m. Fresh produce, nuts, salsa, and fresh peach ice cream bring the crowds for a great taste of summer. The houses of the Village are open for touring and the General Store offers all sorts of gifts and treats.
Added to activities each week are Steam-powered Train Excursions each Friday, Saturday and Sunday through the month. Information on these can be found at nnry.com or by calling 775-289-2085. The Ely Renaissance Village is open on Saturdays from 10 to 4 pm. The Ely Art Bank is open Friday and Saturday, from noon to 4pm and Sundays from 10 am to 2 pm. The White Pine Public Museum is also open through the month. Add in 24 murals and a sculpture park, unique shopping, and a beautiful downtown area to walk, and one can see that a trip to Ely anytime in August is a stroll through a friendly, small town that is part of the rural Nevada we all love. Call the White Pine Chamber of Commerce at 775-289-8877 for information on all the events and attractions.
ELY IS THE GREAT CITY of Nevada's far east, closer to Salt Lake City than to Reno or Las Vegas. It is located where the southern end of the magnificent Steptoe Valley meets foothills of the Egan Range, at the conjunction of Highways 6, 50 and 93. Ely offers many excellent lodging, dining and recreation options in marvelous natural surroundings.
Its greatest attraction to visitors is the Ghost Train, the restored Nevada Northern Railway that takes passengers from the old depot in East Ely (take 11th Street north from Highway 93/Avenue F/Aultman Street) on excursions west to Ruth and northeast to McGill from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Additional trains are scheduled during the winter months, the Polar Express has Santa aboard, and the Photo Shoot specials in February attract photographers from around the world.
Railroad buffs now converge on Ely from all over the world. They light up with pleasure as the antique locomotives squeal and hiss up to the passenger depot. They exult at the conductor's "All Aboard!" They thrill at the thought of an Ely-McGill-Cherry Creek excursion train, and they faint away with joy at the prospect of going all the way to Cobre.
No wonder: Magic happens as the antique steamers chuff solemnly away from the station. Wheels clickety-clacking, cars swaying, the world gliding slowly by, kids waving from their bikes, cows looking up in dim curiosity, sky spread big and bright overhead — it's a unique and delightful experience for its own sake, and even more for being the real thing — this is not a reconstruction or a restoration.
The White Pine Public Museum at 2000 Aultman Street is the showplace for a mineral collection of considerable variety, and for unique items like the home-made cannon which once guarded the Court House in Hamilton. The museum is open seven days during June, July and August, and Monday through Friday the rest of the year. Admission is free.
Ely was established in the 1870s as a stagecoach station and post office. Only after it was designated the White Pine County seat in 1887 with the collapse of Hamilton did the population climb to 200. After the turn of the century, immense copper deposits near Ely began to attract attention away from the failing gold mines, and by 1906 a boom had developed. The Nevada Northern Railway was completed in the fall of that year and in 1908, when the smelter at McGill went on the line, mineral production leapt from barely more than $2000 the year before to more than $2 million. The Kennecott Copper Company began acquiring Ely copper mining companies in 1915 and by 1958, swhen it suspended operations, these acquisitions resulted in control of the region's copper mines and dominated the local economy. A Polish company is mining the copper here now.
The departure of Kennecott was a watershed event in White Pine County history, and for nearly 20 years nothing quite took up the economic slack. The economic downturn precluded widespread renovation, and the early 20th century small-town architecture that dominates its center give Ely a familiar look. Norman Rockwell would have liked it, and you will like it too.
Many of Ely's downtown buildings are distinguished by murals, most of them sponsored by the Ely Renaissance Society, a group formed after the closure of the big copper mine eliminated more than 400 local jobs. The murals were intended to help spruce up the 11-block central core of the city, and to create a new attraction that would help bring visitors. Depicting a variety of local subjects in a variety of styles, the murals and other outside art provide a pleasant and interesting stroll.
Another great attraction is the magnificent surroundings. Great Basin National Park provides an obvious and rewarding destination, but there is no limit to the outdoor recreation here. Hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, exploring, cross-country skiing and anything else you enjoy doing outdoors is available in the countryside around Ely Chamber of Commerce information is available on Aultman Street.