Mark Bassett is the Executive Director of the White Pine Historical Railroad Foundation, operator of the Nevada Northern Railway Museum. He can be reached at the museum (775) 289-2085 ext. 7 or e-mail: email@example.com
Come Celebrate Long Steel Rails
On June 17, 18, and 19 the Nevada Northern Railway Museum in conjunction with the East Ely Depot Museum, the White Pine Public Museum, and the White Pine Chamber of Commerce celebrates the Long Steel Rails Festival.
This festival will explore the impact railroads had in the building of America. These parallel long steel rails changed America but nowadays it's hardly given a second thought. Like so many things in modern life, we expect results with minimal effortthrow a switch and you have lights. Need groceries? Hop in your car and head to the store where there's fresh meat, fresh vegetables, and fresh dairy products. Of course, it wasn't always like this and especially out West where great distances and horses made for slow going.
The railroad tracks that conquered the West were built one stick of rail at a time. Across the high desert of Nevada ties were placed one at a time, then the rail came forward. Thirty feet of steel weighing hundreds of pounds was lifted by four men and placed on the ties. Then the spikers moved in and started driving the spikes two per tie. As the spikers started their work the rail carriers went back for another stick of rail to place on the ties opposite their first one. The second rail was placed 4 feet 8 1/2 inches from the first and then another team of spikers came forward driving in two spikes per tie. A different crew came forward and bolted the rails together joining the new rails to the new track that stretched on until it disappeared over the horizon. This ballet played out over and over, again and again, covering immense distances and tying the country together.
The railroads were the catalyst that led to the lifestyle that we now enjoy. Once upon a time in America every town of substance had a rail connection. If the railroad missed the town then the town picked up and moved to the railroad. It was the railroads that allowed for the development of the interior of the country. The railroads touched just about everyone. Today that is still true but it is not as obvious as it once was.
There is a place where this connection is still very obviousEly, Nevada. Ely is the home of the Nevada Northern Railway, a place frozen in time. The two-story sandstone depot stands at the end of a broad street. Looming above the depot is the original coaling tower and water tank. The yard is unique: it consists of fifty buildings and structures, the majority of them constructed shortly after the arrival of the railroad.
On June 17, 18 and 19 the complex comes alive as the Nevada Northern Railway celebrates the sixth Long Steel Rails Festival. The three-day event will illustrate the influence that railroads exerted on everyday life in America using songs, stories, and pictures.
To tell the story will be a series of singers, speakers and artists. They are:
In addition to the speakers and the entertainment there is plenty else to do during Long Steel Rails. Not all of the people who rode the trains paid for the privilege. Some rode the freight trains as unpaid passengers commonly called hobos. A Hobo Camp will be set-up for the public to learn what it was like jumping trains and traveling the country.
For the children there will be a workshop where they will be able to assemble a whistle made out of wood.
Of course, when people think of railroading the image that comes to mind is that of the engineer. During the festival, you'll be able enjoy the ultimate opportunity a ride in the cab of a diesel locomotive. This will be an opportunity for the public to experience what its like to be in a diesel locomotive going down the rails.
To experience railroading up close, guided walking tours of the rail yards, blacksmith shop, and buildings will be available. These tours show the machinery and skills necessary to keep the iron horse running. There will also be speeder rides. Before the days of cars and trucks, gandy dancers (track workers) used lightweight gasoline powered track cars to travel the track to inspect it. And of course there will be steam and diesel excursion train rides all weekend long. On Saturday evening, there will be a very special train the Steptoe Valley Flyer. From 1906 until 1941, passengers traveled in great style on the Nevada Northern Railway. The train was pulled by steam locomotive 40 and consisted of first class coach 5 and baggage/Railway Post Office car 20. For years, these cars traveled from the transcontinental railroad connection at Cobre to Ely. While today we will not be able to go to Cobre, we will be able to travel over some of the original track as we travel back in time. There is very limited seating and passengers are encouraged to wear period dress for this trip.
join us for what promises to be an exciting weekend exploring the connection
of railroading and people.
Call Us 1-866-40STEAM or 1-866-407-8326
Copyright © 2005 Nevada Northern
Railway - Ely, Nevada