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Honeymoon Trip Nevada Northern Star Train 7/17/2020

by Chris Guenzler

I went down to the Nevada Northern depot and the ticket window and asked if they had room for me on the Star Train tonight. They said yes and they even gave me the 10% off the ticket price since I was writing the story. With ticket in hand, I went back to the car and had my dinner before I waited to board the train. This train is a joint venture between the Great Basin National Park and the Nevada Northern Railway. There were three Rangers aboard whose speciality were stars and their knowledge of the Great Basin Park so this would be an interesting evening for myself as Elizabeth was back at the hotel resting after a big day and they only had space for one of us.

Our engineer for the Star Train tonight.

The Star Train at East Ely awaiting departure time.

Nevada Northern SD9 204 would power our train tonight. I boarded the train as the fifth passenger and made my way out to the very back of the open car where I would spend the entire trip.

The East Ely depot would be our departure point and we would head out on the high line that used to run to McGill but now stops short.

A most knowledgeable Ranger about the stars as he led the talk when we stopped later in the trip.

The East Ely depot as the train departed for our adventure with the stars tonight. The Great Basin area of Nevada is famous in the world for some of the best star-gazing that can take place because of its isolated location. They played a ten-round game of Star Trivia which was very interesting and I got seven out of ten correct.

The train left the Nevada Northern yard.

Looking north up the Steptoe Valley.

One of the other passengers took my picture which is very nice of him in these troubled times with Covid-19 virus. All passengers had to wear masks on this train.

Looking north up the Steptoe Valley.

The first big curve of the trip.

This is a case of waiting for it to get completely dark so the stars would be visible.

Curving up the line to our turnaround point.

Looking toward the sunset.

The clouds were beautiful this evening.

Looking back to where we had been.

Waiting for the sun to set.

Looking up to where we are headed.

The sun is taking its time setting tonight.

The train takes another curve.

The sky would get very interesting tonight with colors before it got dark.

The blues are really accented in this picture.

Looking back from where we had come.

Sunset is taking place slowly tonight.

Taking another curve.

Looking over at the sunset.

Looking down the Steptoe Valley.

The peaks and the cloud make for an interesting picture.

Another sunset picture.

The Nevada Northern line to Shafter.

The western sky is getting very interesting.

Curving up the line.

Just look at that western sky. Isn't it beautiful?

Looking back to where we had come from.

The big curve where I had shot Nevada Northern 93 on that photo train in the past. From here it would be new mileage for me.

The colors are becoming fantastic.

Still on that curve.

It's getting darker ...

Looking back once again.

Taking a small curve as we are nearing our turnaround point.

Looking back.

Views of the darkening sky.

Looking back as the first stars started to appear.

Looking to the west as we reached our turnaround point. Here the engine would run around the train.

The engine ran by the train and down to the switch.

The western sky.

The engine returned to the train and after two attempts, it coupled up to us.

The western sky as it is getting really dark. We reached the point of the trip where the passengers would get off and would receive a lecture from the Ranger about star-gazing.

The passengers detrained for their talk but I stayed on the open car as I could stretch out and still hear every word that was being said. They discussed the distance of some stars as it relates to famous people on earth. They pointed out Jupiter and Saturn as well as other constellations that could be partially seen due to the cloud cover. They talked about Galileo and his telescope and how some people had binoculars that provided a better view than Galileo had. He pointed out constellations in the sky which people could see when they returned home if they lived in a place that would allow it. Las Vegas is not one of those places. They talked about light pollution and the lack of it here. As they talked and it got darker, the Milky Way came into view and was very impressive to see. The surprise of the night came when in the western sky, a comet was spotted and if you used your peripheral vision, you could see the tail just fine. I did this most of the way back until we reached Ely when the light pollution took over. All in all, it was a very enjoyable evening in the Steptoe Valley and I enjoyed the Rangers' talk of the stars. Everyone re-boarded the train and we returned to East Ely but before we got there, I walked into the train and thanked the Rangers for their interesting talk about the stars, Great Basin National Park and the trivia game. The train pulled into East Ely at 10:15 PM. I called Elizabeth to tell her I was on my way to the hotel and I would knock three times and when I got there, we called it a night. Thank you Nevada Northern Railway for a very interesting Star Train, a unique train in my experiences of riding trains.