Ely Correspondence – February 2017


Ely’s Nevada Northern Railway Photo Shoot

The whistle from the steam engine echoes across the valley as the white, puffy cloud of steam rises in the early morning chill. Snow covers the ground and the sun is just coming up. The clear, crisp mountain air shimmers, highlighting the frost on the trees. Activity at the depot stirs with passengers hearing the “All Aboard!” shout from the conductor. Bags are grabbed, equipment is put in place, and then the train pulls out of the station.

This first took place over 100 years ago, but it happens again every February with the annual Winter Steam Photo Shoot Spectacular in Ely at the Nevada Northern Railway, held this year on February 10-12 and 17-19, Friday through Sunday.

Each year photographers from all over the world gather in Ely to participate in the great steam railroad photo shoot.  Historic steam engines over 100 years old and original passenger cars and other equipment are brought out to form trains that have been running on these tracks over the past century.

These trains were used to haul ore from the copper mine, bring in freight and ship out livestock, keeping this community and its residents both employed and supplied with everything needed to live in this isolated community in the Great Basin of eastern Nevada.

Today, these same trains carry passengers throughout the year on rides through the high mountain desert mining district. Specialty trains include the Wild West train, Geology train, Haunted train and the Polar Express. A full schedule can be found at nnry.com.

The Winter Photo Shoot is a special time for photographers to get shots of trains put together against the backdrop of snow covered hills, with no traffic, crowds or other distractions.  Discussions on light settings, angles and other aspects of getting the perfect photo are shared among the participants. Tours through the engine house, access to the entire railway complex, and volunteers in period-appropriate dress add to the experience. The night shoots add yet another dimension to the memorable weekend.

For more information, call 1866-40STEAM (866-407-8362 or 775-289-2085, or nnry.com.

— Lorraine Clark