Ely Correspondence – July 2016



National Speleological Society Convention in Ely

The National Speleological Society (NSS) will hold their 2016 Convention in Ely, Nevada, July 16-23.  Over 1000 cavers are already registered to attend this convention and this will mean a great deal to the city of Ely.

Ely has been the site for several national conferences and welcomes the opportunity to showcase our part of Eastern Nevada. We are the home of Lehman Caves, a part of Great Basin National Park since 1986. Much more information on the history of the caves can be found here. The National Speleological Society website, caves.org,  states, “We explore, we study, we protect.” Many articles are available on the website for those who want to learn Caving 101. Preservation is truly a main focus for these adventurous explorers.

The 'Cypress Swamp' in Lehman Caves
                                                                            The ‘Cypress Swamp’ in Lehman Caves

Members of this group have been visiting Ely for the past two years to prepare for the conference. Arrangements have been made with the local businesses and attractions. This will be a great boost for the economy of the area certainly, but it will also be a celebration for Great Basin National Park celebrating the 100th anniversary of the National Park System and the 30th Anniversary of  Lehman Caves being part of the national park system. This year also marks  the 75th Anniversary of the NSS.

As part of the Conference, the NSS is creating a mural depicting Lehman Caves that will be placed on the side of the Park Vue Motel in downtown Ely, joining over 20 other murals completed by the Ely Renaissance Society since 2000. The unveiling of the Lehman Caves mural will be held July 16, with a festival planned in the County Park across from the mural. Food, fun and music are planned. The NSS will bring in large replicas of cave formations that children can crawl through to get an idea of what cave exploration is all about.

John and Mary Walker, owners of Walker Electric Studio, took some of the earliest known photos of Lehman Caves in the 1920’s, shortly after President Harding created Lehman Caves National Monument.  The photos were sent to Washington D.C, where they were placed in the archives of the Library of Congress. A recent find at the Smithsonian Museum of 30 photographs taken inside Lehman Caves 50 years ago has resulted in an art exhibit that will be on display at the Ely Art Bank.  New photos are being taken now at the same location, so the exhibit will show “Then and Now” photos of the same spot in the cave. A reception to showcase the photo exhibit will be held at the Ely Art Bank, Saturday, July 16, from 4 to 7 pm. The exhibit will be on display until July 30. The photos will then become a permanent exhibit at Lehman Caves after the conference and will show what happened in the cave during the last 50 years.  All are welcome to stop by and see the photos.

The new mural and the photo exhibit will be a wonderful example of the use of art to tell our history that the Ely Renaissance Society is featuring to attract visitors to the area. Several other art exhibits are planned during the year at the Ely Art Bank. More on this can be found at Rural Nevada News

Ely looks forward to welcoming the NSS to come explore our area and enjoy one of the great caves in the United States.

— Lorraine Clark