He’d calculated that on our second southbound day we’d reach tiny Ely, Nevada, (population 4,288 in 2011) tucked away in the eastern part of the state in time for lunch. This town, that began in the late 1800’s as a stagecoach stop, is located at the northern tip of Nevada’s Great Basin. It became the county seat in 1887 and by 1906 was a copper mining boom town.
Illuminated by a mid-day sun against a blue sky background the the city park with its nearby towering County Courthouse called out Small Town Americana. It’s a call that we find irresistible.
The Scout had read about the historic Hotel Nevada and Gambling Hall which at six-stories it was until 1948, the tallest building in Nevada. it was there we dined on our mid-day break. (You can tell from the photo it is still one of the tallest buildings in town.)
So charmed were we by this taste of the Old West – both town and hotel -- that we vowed to return on our northbound trip – and three weeks later pulled in for a second dose of small-town-soul-elixir.
By then winter had turned the little town into a Currier and Ives card:
Our arrival seemed synchronized with the snow that began falling in the mid-afternoon.
The small town seemed even more charming as -now bundled in winter coats and gloves - we strolled along its darkening main street, named Altman.
One of our favorite ‘finds’ along the way was Economy Drug, an old-time combination pharmacy, gift and toy store, and boasting one of the coolest authentic drug store soda fountains we’ve ever seen. Opened in the 1940’s the family’s on its third generation pharmacist.
We were warmly greeted by two camera-shy ladies running the eatery, one in particular was a ‘fountain’ of history about the town and the business. She told me not to miss the ‘naughty boy’ mural on the side of the building. So . . .
This time we stayed overnight in the historic Hotel Nevada and it’s a story unto itself. . .one that I'll soon be telling. . .
If You Go:
- Ely, is in White Pine County in the central part of eastern part of Nevada, sitting at the crossroads of U.S. 93 and U.S. 50. As you enter the town,you’ll find a selection of motels flanking the main drag.
- It’s a great base for outdoors enthusiasts as camping, hiking, fishing and places to climb are found within a close radius.
- In Ely, you are also in old Pony Express Country and not far from some old stage stops and mining ghost towns.
- The old Ely Ghost Train, is an operating railroad museum. Between May and September you can take train rides powered by old steam engines No. 40 and No. 93 – both important links to the area’s mining past. For more information: 775.289.2085