ELY

NAME: Ely
COUNTY: White Pine
ROADS: 2WD
GRID: 1
CLIMATE: Mild spring and summer,cold,cold in winter
BEST TIME TO VISIT: Late spring through early fall
COMMENTS: Semi-ghost
REMAINS: Many original buildings

Ely was a small mining camp at the juncture of U.S. Highways 50 and 93 in White Pine County. But on September 29, 19 06 the railroad came to Ely out of necessity. The world needed the ores that the pioneers had mined there. Gold, silver, and other precious metals had been dug from the ground, sacked, and shipped by mule-back or wagons. But the hue copper ore bodies demanded rail transportation. So the Nevada Northern railway was built. The celebration lasted three days. Huge crowds cheered as the trains from Salt Lake City, Ogden, and San Francisco arrived. Within a year one would scarcely have recognized the mining camp. The coming of the railroad made Ely prosper. In 1907 Ely boasted a population of 3,000 as compared to 500 two years before. But Ely still retains some of its early trappings.

The town formed in 1870 and was more of a stage stop than a town. The first real house in town was built by a Harry Featherstone who also constructed a restaurant and a hotel. The town was first called Ely in 1878 in honor of Smith Ely, president of the Selby Copper Mining and Smelting Company. The company built several smelting furnaces in Ely and gave the town its first real start. Ely progressed very slowly and the population hovered between 25 and 30 until 1885. After Ely was designated as the new White Pine County seat in 1887, the town grew steadily until by the end of the year it was a bustling business center. By 1980, Ely had a population of 300 and was serviced by four stage lines. While Ely continued to grow, it wasn’t until 1906 that the town began to boom. The event of 1906 was the arrival of the Nevada Northern Railway on September 29th. By the end of 1906, close to 5,000 residents were packed into Ely. The population explosion necessitated the construction of a $35,000 schoolhouse. The low copper prices after World War I did slow growth. The copper mines closed and the town’s population declined significantly. The mines reopened in 1940 and Ely revived. Now that the mines have once again closed, Ely is experiencing difficult times. Total production for the Ely copper mines stands at more than $1 billion, making it the most productive copper district in Nevada history. Visiting Ely is a must.

Submitted by: Henry Chenoweth

 

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