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Nevada Northern Railway Museum Press Release



For Immediate Release
Contact: Mark Bassett (775) 289-2085
September 28, 2020

Nevada Northern Railway East Ely Complex, Locomotives, and Rolling Stock Recognized as National Historic Landmark

On September 27, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne announced the designation of the Nevada Northern Railway East Ely yard complex, locomotives and rolling stock in Ely, Nevada as a National Historic Landmark, acknowledging it as "the best-preserved, least altered, and most complete main yard complex remaining from the steam railroad era."

National Historic Landmark status is the highest recognition accorded by our nation to historic properties possessing "exceptional value or quality in illustrating and interpreting the heritage of the United States." Since the program began in 1935, fewer than 2,500 properties nationwide have achieved NHL designation. Moreover, only a handful of designations represent the nations' railroads: The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum and Mount Clare Station in Maryland; Colorado's Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad; Pennsylvania's East Broad Top Railroad; and the Union Pacific depot in Cheyenne, Wyoming, the last of the grand, nineteenth-century depots remaining on the transcontinental railroad.

The Nevada Northern Railway complex at East Ely thereby joins an elite company of historic places with an irreplaceable legacy and national significance extending beyond local, state, and regional boundaries. "Among all railroad historic sites anywhere in North America," notes William L. Withuhn, Curator, History of Technology and Transportation, Smithsonian Institution, "the Nevada Northern Railway complex at East Ely is—no question in my view—the most complete, most authentic, and best cared-for, bar none. It's a living American treasure and a stand-out one." He further elaborates that the East Ely site is "a precious piece of Nevada's heritage and, just as important, a step back in time into an all-important era in American history and our nation's cultural heritage."

Mark Bassett, executive director of the Nevada Northern Railway Museum attributes the survival of the complex, locomotives and rolling stock to both its remoteness and the vision of local residents. "When the railway closed in 1983, had it been located anywhere else, the track would have been torn out, equipment scrapped or sold, and the buildings razed. The only thing left would have be fading photographs and memories." Instead, the fifty-six acre complex, its sixty-six structures, along with locomotives, rolling stock, and corporate records survive as "a window on life in the last century-a place where time stopped."

NN loco 40 at East Ely, Nevada

NNRy locomotive 40 with train at the East Ely Depot—all designated a National Historic Landmark

"For the past twenty-two years," explains Bassett, "people with vision have worked to save the railroad and the complex. Their work has paid-off. Today, steam locomotives 40 and 93 are back into service. Coach 5 and Baggage/RPO 20 are still in service carrying passengers as they have been for the past century. A person can purchase a ticket at the original ticket window, board the original passenger cars, and leave Ely behind the original locomotive heading out on the original track."

"The reason this is possible because people recognized the importance of this piece of Americana. At one time, innumerable towns across America had a railroad complex like the one in East Ely; almost all have disappeared—bulldozed to the ground and covered over by modern shopping malls. People with vision believed that this museum was a national treasure deserving preservation." This week's announcement designating the site as a National Historic landmark, and coinciding with the centennial of the railway's arrival in Ely on September 29, 1906, validates their conviction.

For more information, please contact the Nevada Northern Railway Museum at 1-866-407-8326 or 775-289-2085.


The City of Ely and the White Pine Historic Railroad Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit corporation, jointly own the Nevada Northern Railway Museum. The White Pine Historic Railroad Foundation operates the museum. For more information, please call Mark Bassett at (775) 289-2085 extension 7.






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