Nevada Correspondence – January 2016

In this edition:

Baker, Carson Valley, Ely, Las Vegas (3), Mesquite, Silver City, Tuscarora, Railfanning



Traditional sheepherder's wagons like this one made the hard and solitary life of the Basque sheepherder just a little more comfortable.
Traditional sheepherder’s wagons like this one made the hard and solitary life of the Basque sheepherder just a little more comfortable.

Baker Happenings

Sheepherders’ Gathering, January 15-16

Join the fun in one of the most unusual parties in the state — one to honor those in the sheep industry. Sheep herders, owners, and others associated with the sheep business come to the Border Inn near Baker, Nevada to share stories, dance, eat delicious family-style dinners and sourdough pancakes, listen to great music, and more. This will be the 13th annual gathering. Over the years, many folks have attended, including Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons and the Mountain West Digital Library, who have collected oral histories and video recordings of sheepherders.

Basque dinner at the Sheepherder's Gathering
     Basque dinner at the Sheepherder’s Gathering

You can hear some of the stories right from the sheepherders themselves at the 7:00 pm Open Mic Program on January 15. Music also accompanies this program and the open mic stays open until everyone who wants to talk or sing has had a chance. January 16 is a full day, starting with a Sourdough Pancake Breakfast from 7 to 10 am, prepared by sheep owner Dave Okelberry. At 10 am is the screening of Ghosts on the Mountain, a documentary about immigrant sheepherder life. Filmmaker Jared Jakins will lead a discussion. At 2:30 pm get ready to tap your feet to some Old-Time Cowboy Music by Sourdough Slim and Robert Armstrong. You’ll be hungryPondering some mysterious tracks by 5 pm, when the five course Basque Dinner ($25 + tax/person) starts. To finish, the Annual Sheepherders Ball runs from 7:30 pm until the wee hours with the Silver Sage Family Band. For reservations, call Gary or Denys at 775-234-7300.

Tracks in the Snow

One of the things I like best about winter is a fresh snow that shows tracks of every animal that has crossed it. I might see tracks of a deer dragging its hooves through the snow, rabbits bounding, rodents scurrying from one bush to another, a coyote cruising along a trail, or a bird taking off. Every animal is recorded. Deciphering the tracks can take a little practice, but is well worth it. Some helpful free guides can be downloaded from NDOW’s website and Great Basin National Park’s website.

Gretchen Baker

(Don’t miss Gretchen’s blog, the Desert Survivor.)


Carson Valley

Bighorn Sheep Outing at Walker Lake

Desert Bighorn Sheep 3As enamored as we are with the Carson Valley, we looove us a good field trip! And I’ll just have to admit that I am crazy about sheep! Bighorns, that is. So, when Erik told me there is a place where one is virtually guaranteed to see them in the wild, I jumped at the opportunity.

Our first sheep “hunting” trip to Walker Lake, on the way home from the Burning Girl festival on the East Fork Walker River on the Fourth of July, 2014, left us empty-handed. We saw only awesome cliffs and a beautiful sunset, and heard only our own loud voices and the clank of our walking sticks against the rocks.

The second trip, we decided to use our “indoor voices” (shhhhh!) and leave the trekking poles in the car, and, lo and behold… my first sheep sighting! When I crept over the rise and peered down into the canyon to see a small group of Bighorn, I could hardly contain my glee! My heart was pounding in my chest and I just wanted to squeal, but didn’t want to scare them off! They spotted me and scrambled up the cliff to their ledge and cave, baby in tow.

Amy & Bighorn SheepWell, needless to say, I am now a sheep addict. We have returned several times, and only been disappointed the once. Every experience is different. On our last excursion, we pulled up to the usual spot, a trail on the west side of the lake, and geared up for the hike, when Vic, a local photographer and retired judge, pulled up in his big grey Ford F-350 pickup and asked if we were looking for the sheep. He showed us his camera and enormous lens, and directed us to follow him. We hopped back in the car and ended up at the Buffalo Stop BBQ, just off Hwy 95, and he gestured up the hill to the west. We geared up, anticipating a long hike, but only walked around a hundred yards before we came upon a group of thirty Bighorns! The group was less skittish (safety in numbers?) than before, so we were able to spend over an hour observing them. A rare treat! And speaking of treats, the Buffalo Stop was serving up some mighty tasty-looking grub with enormous plates of fresh potato chips and fries. We opted to hike and eat granola bars instead, but plan to return soon!

Mustangs in East Carson ValleyA little closer to home, the winter hiking in the East Valley is delightful. The early snows have cast a fresh glowing blanket over the sage, rabbitbrush and shot-up TV’s and washing machines. This quiet herd of wild horses (left) was as surprised to see us in their territory near Fish Springs as we were to see them!

Carson Valley Events

There are a couple of upcoming activities in the Carson Valley that are really worthy of a plug:

The Carson Valley Arts Council (CVAC) runs a screamin’ concert series. Their goal is to bring great music (along with visual art and drama) to the Valley and create a new performing arts center in the old Copeland Building. Coming attractions are singer songwriter Annie Bosko on Jan 22, and my fave, Dustbowl Revival, on  February 19. This spunky eight-piece bluegrassy band bills itself as “mashing the sounds of traditional American music into a genre-hopping, time-bending Dance Party!”  How can you not love a band like that? Concerts start at 7 pm at the CVIC Hall in Minden.

The annual Eagles and Ag event, which has been featured in a previous NevadaGram, is fast approaching (Feb. 18-21). This popular and well-organized event attracts people from all over the country to our Valley to view and learn about wildlife, ecology, and the ranching lifestyle. There are a variety of activities to choose from to accommodate people with different levels of mobility and financial prosperity. (For reservations click HERE.)

Amy Meeks



Cave Lake Ice Fishing DerbyIce-Fishing-Derby-2015

Saturday, January 30, 2016
8 a.m. — 3 p.m.
Cave Lake State Park
Top Tagged Fish – $5,000 or 775-289-4689

Before the event, 15-25 tagged fish will be released. If you catch a tagged fish you must immediately notify a contest official, Do Not Remove the Tag.
All eligible tagged fish numbers will be placed in a hat and one number will be drawn as the winner of the $5,000 Grand Prize. All other eligible tagged fish are worth $100 each.
Prior to the drawing for the Grand Prize, a drawing will be held for two separate cash prizes. In order to be eligible you must be a paid entrant and be present at the drawing.
After the drawing for the Grand Prize, a drawing will be held for an extra bonus prize for eligible persons who purchased an extra bonus entry and caught a tagged fish. You must be present to win.
Entry Fees:
Early Entry: $45.00 per person. (including children)
After January 15: $55.00 per person
For more information: click HERE. Or email Or call Dale Derbidge at (775) 289-4689
Cave Lake is located eight miles south of Ely on U.S. 93, turning onto Success Summit Road (State route 486) and continuing east for seven miles.

Cave Lake Snow and Ice Sculpture Competition

January 15 through 17, 2016
Cave Lake State Park is the location for the Snow and Ice Sculpture Competition that takes place each January.

Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil -- 2014's winning entry
             Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil — 2014’s winning entry

Contestants have two days to build their entries for the judging that takes place Sunday afternoon.
Lack of scow prevented the 2015 event, but the 2014 White Pine Fire and Ice Festival was wonderful and 2016 promises to be great. In addition to the ice sculptures, also enjoy food, ice bowling, golf, sledding, skating, and ice fishing both Saturday and Sunday. The fireworks over the lake on Sunday evening top off a great day in the high mountain desert area of eastern Nevada.
All sculptures must be completed by 3 p.m. on Sunday with the winners announced that evening at 6 p.m. right before the fireworks show. The first prize winner will receive a grand prize of $1,000. Second place will receive $500 and third place $250.
For more information click HERE or call 775-289-3720.

Lorraine Clark


Las Vegas

In Las Vegas, It’s That Time of Year for … Exercise!

Gravady Jump Fitness 03Sure, you could go to the fitness centers in Las Vegas in January and do the normal treadmill, step-walker, row-boat, jog around the building, pulse pumping, weight loss routines, or you can add some excitement with heart-stopping exercise that will keep you off the exercise treadmill for at least the next month!

Start with Gravady, billed as an “Extreme Air Sports” facility, has a trampoline park and includes tire swings, rope bridge, rock wall, a rope forest, and much more.  It is located in the Summerlin area on Tenaya Way between Cheyenne Avenue and Smoke Ranch Road. This is a very family-friendly place, so be forewarned — there are kids everywhere! They charge $13 for 1 hour and $20 for 2 hours for those age 7 and older and are open from 9 until 10 a.m. for those aged 6 and under and from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. for all ages. You will either have to pay $4 for their grip socks or go barefoot. The best time to go for those over the age of 15 is from 9 p.m. until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays for Club Gravady when they pump up the music and turn on the lasers and black lights. They are closed on Sunday.

Shine Alternative Fitness was started by Cirque du Soleil performers. The classes are for those over the age of 18 who want to develop skills in using aerial silks, dance, anti-gravity yoga and balancing techniques to tone and strengthen the body as an alternative fitness routine. They also have zumba, pole fitness and xtreme boxing classes available from beginner to intermediate. They are located inside the Loftworks complex at Sunset and Tenaya Way and are open 7 days a week. Check out their website because class times and prices vary.

Yoga with dolphinsYoga Among the Dolphins! That’s right, the Mirage Spa offers yoga classes Friday through Sunday at 8:30 a.m. for 1 hour in an underwater room of the Dolphin Habitat where you view the dolphins while stretching your way to fitness. The class is $50 and is limited to around 10 people.  You must call in advance, (702) 791-7472, to make a reservation. This price includes a day pass for the fitness center, lockers, yoga mat and a smoothie drink after your session.  A great price to pay to be up close to the dolphins and enjoy the other amenities of the fitness and spa area.

Pauline Cimoch


Carbone and Casa Fuente

Carbone at Aria 04Restaurants opening on the Strip are more than just a place to eat. For instance, Carbone, that notable Italian-American dining hotspot from Greenwich Village in New York City opened at the Aria, and even though the celebrated menu from Chef Mario Carbone is unique and exquisite, just as unique and exquisite is the modern art display in the dining rooms. The collection features modern American artwork from Sol LeWitt and Richard Serra, colorful canvases by Ben Schonzeit and Robert De Niro, Sr., and intriguing pieces from Julian Schnabel, Maya Lin and Claes Oldenburg.

And the food? Guests can look forward to all the indulgent dishes and showmanship that is Carbone, as it defies casual by elevating Italian-American cuisine to fine dining. Among the favorites are Carbone’s famous Spicy Rigatoni Vodka, Veal Parmesan, Lobster Fra Diavola and the house Meatballs. The menu will evolve with dishes exclusive to the Las Vegas location.

Elevated Italian also means that every table deserves a Captain, a.k.a. waiter. Each was hand selected by the Carbone family to ensure the caliber of service synonymous with the restaurant, including the spectacle that comes with some of the restaurant’s famed tableside presentations.

Carbone is on the second level at Aria. It is open 5 p.m.  10:30 p.m. Mon.-Sun. 877-230-2742.

And beyond Carbone is Casa Fuente, Las Vegas’ premier cigar lounge. It made history by becoming the first drinking establishment in North America to acquire a private barrel of rare Asian whisky.  It secured a barrel of Casa_FuenteKavalan Solist Vinho Barrique Taiwanese whisky, which was voted “World’s Best Single Malt Whisky” at the 2015 World Whiskies Awards. Casa Fuente now has 489 individually-numbered bottles available for purchase at $165 per bottle. The whisky, with an ABV of 56.3%, matured in an aged Spanish Oloroso Sherry Cask for five years and seven months.

“We’re always in the market to offer unique and special experiences,” said Michael Frey, proprietor of Casa Fuente. “When the opportunity came along to be the first in the United States to purchase a barrel of the world’s number-one whisky, we grabbed it. Let me add that the whiskey is very robust, yet pairs well with Arturo Fuente cigars.”

Casa Fuente is in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace. It is open 10 a.m. – 11 p.m. Sun.-Thu., and 10 a.m.- midnight, Fri.-Sat.  702-731-5051.

Diamond Jack Bulavsky


‘Jubilee!’ at Bally’s  To Close Feb. 11 After 34-Year Run

Bally's Jubilee Live 02
Maybe it was bound to happen, but it’s sad to know the longest-running show on the Las Vegas Strip — “Jubilee!” — is closing on Feb. 11, 2016. Ironically, the show’s co-creator and associate producer, Fluff LeCoque, died recently at age 92, before knowing the 34-year-old show was closing. “Jubilee!” is a real slice of Las Vegas’ entertainment history, being the last classic revue with topless showgirls covered in feathers and rhinestones, a cast of nearly 70 singers, dancers and specialty acts, glitz, glamour, and costumes galore maintained by a wardrobe department staffed by 26 people.

In honor of Jubilee’s legacy, tickets to performances from Saturday, Jan. 2 through Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, (excluding Saturdays) will be available starting at $34. With the show closing, it will also mean the end of the wonderful public Jubilee! Backstage Tours that run every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 4 p.m. Tickets are $19.75 or $14.75 with a “Jubilee!” show ticket. This tour is highly recommended.

Disney on Ice Will Pesent ‘Frozen’ at Thomas & Mack Center

Frozen on Ice - Thomas & MackDisney On Ice presents “Frozen” presented by Stonyfield YoKids Organic Yogurt at the Thomas & Mack Center, Jan. 6-11, 2016. The show will be hosted by Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, with special guest appearances by lovable Disney princesses and characters.

Naturally, the show will magically whisk the audience away to the wintry world of Arendelle, with special effects, skating and songs including “Let It Go.” Royal sisters Elsa and Anna will be joined by the snowman Olaf, his loyal reindeer Kristoff, plus Sven and the mystical trolls, as they journey to discover true love is the most magical power of all.

Tickets range from $35 to $80 for VIP. There are daytime and early evening show times available.

Minus 5 Icebar Will Debut New Look at Mandalay Place Location

Minus5 Ice Bar, the company that launched America’s first ice bar seven years ago, will reveal a newly renovated venue at The Shoppes at Mandalay Place with 100 percent new material and a frosty wonderland that is double its original size. In early 2016, the revamped location will feature more than 120 tons of fresh Canadian ice and a 1,300-square-foot ice bar, making it the largest permanent ice bar in the world. The museum-quality carvings will feature an eclectic mix of replica-inspired sculptures such as the Las Vegas Skyline and the Iron Throne from HBO’s Game of Thrones.

The adjacent Ice Lounge will also offer a new look in a larger 3,000-square-foot space seating up to 500 guests with a 20-seat bar and two private rooms that accommodate up to 80 guests each.

Hong Kong Cafe is Now Open at the Palazzo

Located on the casino floor at The Palazzo®, the Hong Kong Café is now open featuring a dynamic fusion of Asian cuisine and Western fare and serving lunch, dinner and late night dishes from 11 a.m. until 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. The 4,200-square-foot restaurant seats 155 guests and features an extensive selection of wine and beer, plus signature sake cocktails.

Chef To's pan-seared Scallops with Szechuan pepper sauce
                 Chef To’s pan-seared Scallops with Szechuan pepper sauce

The intimate space with an abstract design strays from customary colors associated with Asian dining and instead highlights joyful colors with references to nature. Upon entering there is a brass display in the form of a bird cage and bamboo flooring that is fashioned to resemble chopsticks. The space is adorned with colorful banquettes stitched together to create a “kimono” effect.

Chef To, who is also executive chef at the resort’s exclusive Paiza Club, has 35 years of experience cooking Asian cuisine.  Originally from Hong Kong,  he specializes in Cantonese and Szechuan styles and is considered a dim sum master.

Jackie Brett



mesquite Jan 2016 0Mesquite is a town that thrives on good times. Guests come for the sunshine and outdoor sports, but January provides some extra twists that double the fun.

January 15-17 brings the roar of engines to Mesquite Boulevard as Mesquite Motor Mania returns to town. This classic car show is open to all comers — trucks, early classics, hotrods, rat rods, muscle cars are welcome to enter the show and cruise down memory lane. This is an extremely popular FREE event, drawing thousands of car enthusiasts. The good news is, the Show and Shine locations for the show are scattered throughout Mesquite at all the Mesquite Resort Association hotels. Everyone has a great opportunity to check out the flashy rides and vote for their favorites. MMM participants are eligible for $15,000 in drawing prizes, trophies, and tons of fun. Slow drags and Roaring engine contests keep the crowd entertained throughout the weekend. This is a great spectator event for all ages. Live entertainment and great dining round out the weekend events.

The Mesquite Balloon Festival lifts off January 23-24. This glorious spectacle is a real crowd-pleaser, and a “don’t miss” event for all. Volunteers are being solicited to help the flight crews. Go to and click on “volunteer” under the festival listing on the events calendar. Learning to unpack and help launch a hot air balloon is a real kick! Sometimes the pilots are able to offer rides to volunteers. Weather must cooperate for a successful launch, and upper atmosphere winds are a consideration. With 6 a.m. set up and 7:30 a.m. lift off scheduled Saturday and Sunday, early birds are the ones who thrill to the sight of the launch of up to 50 beautiful mesquite Jan 2016 4balloons. Balloonists offer a flight demonstration at the local elementary school on Friday, and flights for the field of participants fill the weekend. A Champagne tasting party and balloon glow at the CasaBlanca Resort parking lot on Saturday night make this one of the most festive events of Mesquite’s winter season. A Neil Diamond Tribute concert tops off the evening at the CasaBlanca Show Room. Balloon events are free to the public; concert tickets and room reservations can be booked through, or call 877-GETAWAY, (438-2929).

Mesquite is the place for fun for everyone. Mesquite is a top golf resort, known for hosting golf and sporting events for athletes and sports enthusiasts with disabilities. The Eureka Casino Resort is pleased to offer a Paramobile vehicle for wheelchair golfers. This vehicle allows those golfers to stand up to take their golf swings, letting them fully participate in the sport. The Eureka is the first resort in the U.S. to provide this amenity free of charge to its guests, funded through the Eureka Community Initiative Foundation. Advance scheduling for the Paramobile can be done by calling 866-582-5386, or emailing 

Linda Faas


Silver City

Visit Silver City’s 1860 Post Office

The Comstock community of Silver City, Nevada is sometimes mislabeled a “ghost town,” but it is far from it. Located just a three miles from Virginia City, the town is part of the region’s National Historic Landmark.  Although the residents enjoy their privacy most of the year, they are also warm hosts to a number of free, public events and programs that are refreshingly distinct from cliched tourist destinations.

Winter scene in SilverA Little History: Historians estimate that by 1861, Silver City had at least a dozen stores, 4 hotels, 3 blacksmith shops, 2 butcher shops, and a post office, serving a population of more than 1,000 people. An 1864 mercantile guide for the Comstock region described Silver City as a place where “citizens display a refined taste … by the numerous gardens and other external and substantial improvements that they are constantly making… Silver City is fully represented by societies, organizations and social institutions, which for numbers and unity, would be creditable to the reputation of larger cities.”

Today, the town of about 200 residents, with its historic buildings and sites, architecturally unusual homes and crystal clear views of the Sierras, attracts visiting plein air painters and photographers from across the nation.
Termed an “Arts and Cultural Resources Production Center”  in 2015 for its 50 year record of contributions to the arts and cultural resources fields,  Silver City counts a surprising number of  visual artists, musicians, photographers, writers, actors, artisans, and academics as residents.

The close-knit town boasts a volunteer-run library, an organic community garden, frequent public events at the community center, a busy arts group, a historic preservation group, a resident artist program, a volunteer fire department, and an arts and science summer program that is free to youngsters in the northwestern Nevada region.

Silver City’s Historic Post Office: We’ll highlight several of the public programs and events in the town over the next year, but let’s begin with Silver City’s historic Post Office, an easy way to get an introduction to the community’s past and present. Established in 1860, the Silver City Post Office is located on the main drag through Silver City, just a short distance south of Gold Hill and Virginia City on State Route 342.

Silver City Post Office signSuzanne Crowley is the extraordinarily personable Post Master, always willing to chat about local history if business is slow. The walls of the small post office are hung with historic photos and maps of the town that are well worth a look.The building also includes community bulletin boards with posts about current events, such as the January town soup social, a winter acoustic music jam session, notices about meetings of the Silver City Arts group and town council, invitations to events at the local Ashram, and exhibitions by local artists.

You’ll also find a display case with a new set of collections each month.  In December, the Silver City Arts group is displaying a collection celebrating the music of present or past Silver City residents, such as Lynne Hughes, Daniel Yuhasz,  Darius Javaher, Tal Morris, Will and Sheree Rose, Betty Kaplowitz, Tommy Thomsen, and bands such as the “Leftovers” youth band, Ukalocos, Sutro Sympathy Orchestra, Red Rose, Hammerstone, American Phlats, High Street Band, and others. Previous exhibits this year featured historic handmade iron objects from early miners; books by or about past and present Silver City residents; and photos from the Comstock Cemetery Foundation and the historic cemeteries of the Comstock, including Silver City’s carefully preserved burial grounds.

Quest Lakes



The Wild Women of Tuscarora

If you are in Elko for the Cowboy Poetry Gathering, January 25-31, don’t miss the opening of the Wild Women show on Thursday, January 28. From the Western Folklife Center in downtown Elko, saunter across the parking lot to the Duncan Little Creek Gallery and Bar where you’ll enjoy the work of some of the finest artists and craftspeople in Nevada.

From their website: “The Wild Women Artists work in a variety of media, live in diverse landscapes, pursue individual goals, but come together to mount two group shows each year … a fall show in Reno, and a winter show in Elko … The group was founded by Jimmie Benedict in 1995, in order to bring creative women together and provide a nurturing environment for artistic growth. Over the years, artists have come and gone as life flows on, but the spirit remains.” Read more at

Three of these notoriously talented women make their homes in Tuscarora, and their art is often influenced by what surrounds them. Here, each of them talks about a current project:

Marti Bein

Nevada Postcard by Marti Bein
                 Nevada Postcard by Marti Bein

Marti BeinI drive across the state a couple of times a month, from Reno to Elko to Tuscarora. One or two times a year, I take Hwy 50 instead of Interstate 80. The one-point perspective of endless highway framed by an intense blue, clouded sky and landscape changing with each season is a comfort to me. I started this little series for myself, postcards of my Nevada. I take quick photos out the window with my iPhone and paint them on scrap canvas or panel in my studio and sometimes in front of the heater in the living room.

Sidne Teske

Sidne Teske at Cathedral Gorge 2

Here is a selfie of me with a partially finished painting at Cathedral Gorge State Park. The photo of the painting is the finished piece. I made 12 paintings for the Nevada Humanities Arts Awards that were given out last April.

Spires at Cathedral Gorge by Sidne Teske
                     Spires at Cathedral Gorge by Sidne Teske

Because it was winter (February- March) I wanted to begin at the southernmost parks where camping would be warmest. I camped and painted my way up the eastern side of Nevada and then worked my way down the center and western part of the state.

The painting shown here was made at Cathedral Gorge State Park. It was bitter cold, with high clouds and a thin breeze. The light was pale and cold. I wished I had had more time to explore the area, there are so many contrasts. I know there are more paintings lurking out there.

 Gail Rappa

Gail Rappa 3The work that I am doing now with shadowboxes allows me to play with multiple images to tell a story. My current favorite materials to work with are jet, which is fossilized coal, and cattle bone. They have a similar feeling when polished– smooth and silky and soft enough that I can work them into intricate shapes. The raven in my work represents the wild and instinctual part of a woman’s nature that will not be confined or tamed. There is a humble form of alchemy that occurs for me when a common material becomes precious when combined with silver and gold.

I love the dual nature of wearable pieces, how there is often a front which is for everyone to see, and a back or inside, which the wearer can keep private. I often include inspirational reminders on the backs of my pieces to give added strength and courage to the wearer. It is an intimate and rewarding exchange when one of my finished pieces gets displayed on a woman’s body; my hope is that the joy that she initially receives upon viewing the piece is multiplied each time she shares it with another.

Belt by Gail Rappa
                                                                          Belt by Gail Rappa

— Nancy Harris McLelland


Nevada Northern Railway Winter Steam Photo Spectacular

Welcome to 2016, we hope you had a joyous holiday season and we hope this new year will be a great one for winteryou and all of your loved ones.   Did any of you take a trip to see Santa on one of the excursion railroads around the state?  If so, we hope you had a great time.

With the holidays now behind us, it is time to turn our attention to Nevada’s premier annual railfan experience, as it is quickly approaching.   We are referring to the Winter Steam Photo Spectacular, hosted by the Nevada Northern Railway, in Ely, Nevada.  This annual event occurs the second and third weekends of February each year, and it is a “must-see” for any railfan.  For 2016, the Winter Steam Photo Spectacular is scheduled for Feb. 12-14 and Feb. 19-21.

You may have watched a steam locomotive in operation during the summer months and found it a sight to behold.  If you take that same steam locomotive and fire it up in subfreezing weather, it becomes ten times more spectacular as steam belches everywhere and creates an almost mystical spectacle.  That is what the Winter Steam Photo Spectacular is all about, showcasing steam locomotive operations in the most spectacular way possible.

To say the Nevada Northern Railway showcases steam locomotive operations during the Winter Steam Photo Spectacular is actually a gross understatement.  During the event, the railway brings out nearly every piece of gear it owns and operates it so railfans can best observe, photograph, and shoot video.  Have you ever seen a steam-powered “wrecking crane” in operation? During the event, the railway will have its crane in operation, recovering “derailed” and “wrecked’ rolling stock in a scenario conceived to provide the best photographs and video possible.

J Gaffney Jan 2016 2The wrecking crane is just the opening act on Friday that draws you into the experience.  A night photo shoot follows, as the sun sets and darkness engulfs the railyard.  Locomotives, rolling stock and crew members in period dress will be posed to provide subjects for scintillating photos and video.  To heighten the beauty of the photos and video, scenes will be lit with studio lights, no need to use camera flashes.

On Saturday and Sunday, participants will board trains to ride to remote and scenic locations.  At each stop, they will dismount and form “photo lines” to photograph the trains at work against the rugged and beautiful vistas.  Freight trains, ore trains, passenger trains, snow-clearing trains, and wreck-recovery trains will all be presented in choreographed demonstrations designed to provide amazing photo and video opportunities.  To ensure the participants get the shots they want, the trains will do “run-bys” – making multiple passes at each shooting location.

Thanks to El Nino, this winter is off to great start.  We expect beautiful snowy conditions in Ely for this year’s Winter Steam Photo Spectacular.  We will be there, and we invite you to come along too.  Bring your camera, your snow boots, your best winter clothing, and expect to see an amazing show.  For more information on the event, go to:

For those of you that can’t make it to Ely for the show, you can expect to see our best photos from the event in the March Nevadagram.

John Gaffney