Posts Tagged ‘ghost train of old ely’

For the life of me, I do not know why they call it “The Ghost Train”. I think the name has more to do with the old engine #40 than the smaller engine #93. The first time I rode the train, #40 pulled it but there was a terrible wreck several years ago that left the #40 quite damaged (no people were hurt) and while it is mostly restored, the railroad uses the #93 or the bright orange diesel engine for the rides.

Here it is pulling out from the station and heading north to Ruth where the mine pits are. It’s just the engine and caboose: no passengers.

Ruth is where the large copper mine pits were when I was a teenager and new to Ely. It was a “company town”: most of the homes were owned by Kennecott Copper Corporation and the pit outside of Ruth was once considered one the the largest open pits in the country. Kennecott went bust and several other mining companies have been in and out of the area since, and the homes in Ruth are no longer company homes. That was back when diesel engines pulled the ore cars.

After Kennecott went bust or maybe during its heyday, certain rail road buffs decided to try to restore the old steam engines. Making the trains a tourist destination was probably a stroke of genius.

I tell you this because the Old East Ely Rail Depot sits a couple blocks away from my father’s old house. The sheds where the engines are stored is right across an empty lot from the house, about half a block away. Every weekend and some week days the shrill whistle of the steam locomotive horn blasts through the air. It’s a sound I love.

It is the sound of a dying train, the steam locomotive. The Ghost Train.

When tensions got high or I just needed to break away from the depressing task at hand, all I had to do was grab my camera and wade through the weeds in the empty lot to the railroad. Unfortunately, I had my settings wrong on my camera for the first week and all my photos are a bit fuzzy. (I was shooting macro images and forgot to reset the camera).

Harvey and I took a couple walks over to the depot and down the street as well: Harvey loved Nevada.

The only reason these rocks are still laying around the depot is because they aren’t very good examples of copper ore. Or ore of any kind: they are large pieces of granite-type rock with a wonderful smattering of Fool’s Gold (iron pyrite) across the face of them. Don & I once had city friends who met us at a campground in Oregon: they were so excited to show us the coffee can of black sand and “gold” they had “mined” from the Powder River. They were so sad when we laughingly explained the difference between real gold and pyrite.

I will miss the old steam engines. Dad paid for us to ride the train twice. We had a blast. Of course, we sat in the enclosed cars so that the black smoke and hot embers wouldn’t catch us, especially when passing through the tunnel on the west side of town.

When Terry’s daughter was in town, we had to take the little ones over to the station to see the train. Elijah was thrilled beyond words. I wondered if Kimm remembered hanging out down there with her Portland cousins, Arwen & Levi, so many years ago?

Sadly, I do not think Chrystal and AJ ever looked outside of the house at the train. It came and went without any acknowledgement by them. Kimm was the only one of their generation to give the train a nod.

What surprised me was that Chrystal didn’t even mention the significance of the train station to AJ: it starred in the movie “Rat Race” with Whoopi Goldberg and the movie is one of Chrystal’s favorites. The “race” ended at the depot and those last scenes of the movie were filmed just two blocks from my dad’s house. Somehow, I hope AJ reads my blog and calls Chrystal on her omission. (I know she reads my blog, so maybe she will share it with AJ so he will know what he missed right across the street??)

Just another memory.

Read Full Post »