IT’S THE RIGHT TRACK
The clamor of trains and blaring whistles no longer disturb folks in Ely. The railroad tracks now skirt the northern edge of this old mining town, not quite a fourhour drive north of Las Vegas.
The dozens of trains that once rumbled by each day, carrying ore and passengers, have dwindled to a handful each week. Antique carriages now are filled with camera-toting tourists lured by the Nevada Northern Railway, a real railroad turned living history museum.
Ninety-minute narrated train rides take visitors along a part of the route that carried 4.5 million passengers between 1905 and 1941. Some of the trains are still pulled by the original locomotives. There’s a museum inside the old station, and the rail yard is open to explore. Combo tickets (train ride and guided tour of rail yard and engine house) cost $31 for adults and $15 for children ages 4 to 12. Most of the trips take place from June to mid-November.
The downtown Hotel Nevada is known for its Western flair. Handpainted murals of cowboys ropin’ and ridin’ adorn the hallways of this vintage property, which offers 24-hour dining and, of course, gambling. Although the rooms are pleasant, some guests may be put off by the signs prominently placed in the bathrooms:
Caution. Due to the age of the hotel 1929 the shower fluctuates from hot to cold without warning!
People fearing a shower surprise may prefer one of the newer chain hotels on the edge of town.
The All Aboard Cafe & Inn is a great choice for delicious, homecooked food at affordable prices. The 1907 building, just half a block from the old depot, once was a boarding house for railroad workers. (Five guest rooms remain upstairs.) Locals rave about the spaghetti with homemade meatballs ($10.95). Open year-round for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Miles one way from downtown L.A.: about 510
Resources: Nevada Northern Railway, www.nnry.com; Hotel Nevada, www.hotelnevada.com; All Aboard Cafe & Inn,  289-3959
CAN YOU HEAR the whistle blowing? A steam locomotive chugs along, giving train buffs the ride of a lifetime near Ely, Nev.