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Our Trip to Ely, Nevada 2/25-26/2021

by Chris Guenzler

Both Elizabeth and I had often seen the fantastic photographs from the Nevada Northern's annual Winter Photo Spectacular but neither of us had participated in this particular event before. I had been on a $50 photo session done around the Polar Express trips in 2004. Since Nevada Northern 40 is down for its fifteen-year rebuild, Elizabeth would finally get her chance to ride behind the 93 if all goes correctly. So we decided to go and do this on the second weekend of this event.

Elizabeth and I got up, had breakfast, packed up the car and were on the road by 8:00 AM. We took CA 55 to CA 91 to Interstate 215 to Interstate 15 to US 395, then Highway 58 to our first stop in Boron, filling up the car with petrol before we found the depot.

Santa Fe Boron Station built in 1912 and was moved from Kramer in 1941. From here we drove to Johannesburg and were surprised at what we found.

American Smelting and Refinery Company Model PLS-27 Baltimore Refinery by Roger Brothers Corporation in Albion, PA now Buffalo Mining Railroad 28.

The 1898 Santa Fe station in Johannesburg, now a private residence.

The residential scene.

Cotton Belt caboose SSW 85 acquired in 2019 from the Fillmore and Western Railway.

Rear of the station. It was a very short drive to Randsburg.

Yellow Aster Mining 0-4-0T 3 built by Porter in 1909 at the Desert Museum. From here we drove to Trona.

Trona Railway SD40T-2 2005 former Southern Pacific 8541.

Trona Railway SD40-2 2008 former Union Pacific 3720.

Trona Railway SD40-2 2008 former Union Pacific 3719.

The power consist.

Trona Railway SD40-2 2007 former Union Pacific 3567 being used as a parts source. On the way out of Trona, we had to stop again.

Trona Railway caboose 101 at the Trona Railway Company museum.

The Trona Railway Company museum which was closed. Next we drove the Panamint Valley Highway.

Views as we travelled north up the Panamint Valley. We turned onto CA 190 and soon came to the sign of our next destination.

Death Valley National Park.

Death Valley Information

Death Valley is a desert valley in Eastern California, in the northern Mojave Desert, bordering the Great Basin Desert. It is one of the hottest places on Earth, along with deserts in the Middle East and the Sahara. Death Valley's Badwater Basin is the point of lowest elevation in North America, at 282 feet below sea level. It is 84.6 miles east-southeast of Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States, with an elevation of 14,505 feet. On the afternoon of July 10, 1913, the United States Weather Bureau recorded a high temperature of 134 °F at Furnace Creek in Death Valley which stands as the highest ambient air temperature ever recorded at the surface of the Earth. This reading, however, and several others taken in that period, a century ago, are in dispute by some modern experts. Lying mostly in Inyo County, California, near the border of California and Nevada, in the Great Basin, east of the Sierra Nevada mountains, Death Valley constitutes much of Death Valley National Park and is the principal feature of the Mojave and Colorado Deserts Biosphere Reserve. It runs from north to south between the Amargosa Range on the east and the Panamint Range on the west; the Grapevine Mountains and the Owlshead Mountains form its northern and southern boundaries, respectively. It has an area of about 3,000 sq mi. The highest point in Death Valley National Park is Telescope Peak, in the Panamint Range, which has an elevation of 11,043 feet.

Death Valley is home to the Timbisha tribe of Native Americans, formerly known as the Panamint Shoshone, who have inhabited the valley for at least the past 4 millennium. The Timbisha name for the valley, tümpisa, means "rock paint" and refers to the red ochre paint that can be made from a type of clay found in the valley. Some families still live in the valley at Furnace Creek. Another village was in Grapevine Canyon near the present site of Scotty's Castle. It was called in the Timbisha language maahunu, whose meaning is uncertain, although it is known that hunu means "canyon". The valley received its English name in 1849 during the California Gold Rush. It was called Death Valley by prospectors and others who sought to cross the valley on their way to the gold fields, after 13 pioneers perished from one early expedition of wagon trains. During the 1850s, gold and silver were extracted in the valley. In the 1880s, borax was discovered and extracted by mule-drawn wagons.

Now ride along with us as we take a trip to Furnace Creek.

Views along the way to Furnace Creek. We stopped at the Visitor's Center to find out where the steam engine was.

Death Valley Railroad 2-8-0 2. The narrow gauge (36") Death Valley Railroad was formed in 1914 to exploit borax deposits near Ryan, CA, with a twenty mile line connecting Ryan with the Tonopah & Tidewater Railroad at Death Valley Junction, NV. 2 was one of two oil burning Consolidation locomotives built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1914 to haul trainloads of water into the valley in the morning and borax out in the evening. With the borax deposits played out, the DVR converted to a tourist line in 1925, bringing visitors to the converted miners' dormitories that now made up the Furnace Creek Inn. By 1929, United States Potash had decided to close down all its Death Valley operations and the last two scheduled trains ran on 21st February 1930.

The builder's plate. Elizabeth bought a sandwich and lemonade and I got a Coca-Cola and an M&M ice cream bar which I ate before we left. Now sit back and enjoy a trip from Furnace Creek to Rhyolite.

Views during the drive to Rhyolite, Nevada.

Former Los Angeles and Salt Lake wooden caboose 3303 which was used in the 1930s as part of a gas station.

The Las Vegas and Tonopah Railroad station in Rhyolite built in 1907. In the 1930s, the old depot became a casino and bar, and later it became a small museum and souvenir shop that stayed open into the 1970s.

On the way to Goldfield.

At the Bullfrog Goldfield Railroad Yard, Goldfield Consolidated Mines Company 0-6-0T 1, originally U.S. Army 0-6-0T 5014, built 1942, is on display. This was at the California State Railroad Museum until 2008 when the Goldfield Historical Society moved it to Goldfield, with help from the Central Nevada Historical Society in Tonopah. The intention is to recreate the 1907 Bullfrog Goldfield Yards and return an historic railroad presence to this turn-of-the-19th-century mining boom town, once served by four railroads.

Tonopah and Goldfield wooden boxcars that were rescued from a storage yard in Fernley, NV. These two cars ran on the local rail lines here.

An unknown wooden passenger car.

One more picture of the steam engine. We went into the Santa Fe saloon and the lady there handed me the Goldfield Walking Tour booklet which led us to where the Tonopah and Goldfield Railroad station once was.

The remains of the Tonopah and Goldfield Railroad station in Goldfield. We left here and headed to Tonopah.

On the way to Tonopah. We checked into the Best Western High Desert Inn and were given a room in the back building. I watched the second period of the Pittsburgh Penguins game and during the break we walked to A&W and got dinner to bring back to the room. The Penguins lost the game, I wrote the story then the two of us called it a night.

2/26/2021 We woke up at the Best Western High Desert Inn and checked out. I took a picture before we had breakfast.

The mine above the motel to the east. We checked out and drove to Stage Coach Cafe in the Tonopah Station complex. I had french toast with sausage. Before leaving Tonopah I decided to see what else this town had.

We found a fake steam engine at a playhouse.

Next we found a caboose that had above the door Assay Buying Office Wise Buy, on the door Cino's Casino All the way and on the street side it had Wise Buying Station Roseville Assay Buying Office. Howard Hughes bought every mining claim in sight and this caboose is his former Assay Office. We then left Tonopah for Ely.

A dry lake to our south.

A long straight US 6 highway.

Snow on those peaks to our north.

Nearing Ely, we saw the mine tailings from the Ruth Mine. We then found the last station that I had never photographed in all of my visits.

In downtown Ely, Nevada Northern passenger station, built in 1906 and in use as a Senior Center.