Ely was established in the 1870s primarily as a stagecoach station and post office. In 1887 Ely was awarded the White Pine County seat and this move put the town on the map, boosting the population to 200! The town served as a base for the surrounding mining camps of Ward, Cherry Creek, Osceola and Taylor. At the beginning of the 1900s, the vast copper deposits near Ely began attracting miners to the area, away from the dwindling gold mines. By 1906, a copper boom swept the area and later that year the Nevada Northern Railway was completed. For the next couple of decades, copper mining dominated the Ely economy with different mergers and acquisitions of mining companies occurring. Following a sharp decline in the demand for copper and natural resources, the mines closed in 1978, but still serve as a major tourist attraction.
Today, downtown Ely offers visitors a number of comfortable lodgings which boast bars, casinos, swimming pools and restaurants – Copper Queen Ramada Inn, Ely Holiday Inn, Jailhouse Casino and Motel and the historic Hotel Nevada and Gambling Halls. Hotels and motels scatter the main street and some are also located in some outlining areas in a more rustic location.
One of Ely’s major attractions is the Nevada Northern Railway Museum and the famous Ghost Train. The restored train line takes visitors from the old depot in East Ely on long excursions westwards to Ruth mining pits and northeast to the Mc Gill Ranch. The authentic steam engines and the stunning natural surroundings make this journey a must for train and nature enthusiasts alike.
Several ghost towns are also in close proximity to Ely, as well as Baker’s archeological site where the remains of a 700 year old Fremont Indian village are found. The area’s natural features are also abundant such as the Cave Lake State Park, which is perfect for fishing and nature excursions.
The amazing scenery which is typical for the White Pine County area includes tall mountain ranges rising up to 13,000 feet and valleys dipping to 6000 feet. The landscape features desert sand and sagebush, meeting forests and mountain peaks. Winter snow covers the mountain peaks which melt away in the spring exposing the red, yellow and purple wildflowers beneath. Summer brings gorgeous sunsets and clear starry skies, while fall adds a gorgeous golden tone to the terrain.
Click for a map of Nevada.