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Ely, White Pine County: A Detailed Insight into a Nevada City


Ely, a small city in White Pine County, Nevada, offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Located in the eastern part of the state, Ely is known for its rich mining history and as a gateway to the great outdoors, including the nearby Great Basin National Park. This article delves into various aspects of Ely, providing a comprehensive overview of its population, demographics, points of interest, and neighboring cities.


Ely’s population has undergone various changes from 2020 to 2023. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Population Estimates Program, the city experienced a population increase of 48 (1.22%) between 2020 and 2021, followed by a decrease of 16 (0.40%) from 2021 to 2022, bringing the population to 3,962 by the end of 2022​​. The city’s population peaked in 2011 at 4,267 and was lowest in 2004 at 3,769. Over the last two decades, the population has shown a trend of decline, with an average annual growth rate of -0.12% per year from 2000 to 2022​​.


Ely’s demographics reveal a community with a diverse array of backgrounds and experiences. The city’s average household size is 2.21, with an average family size of 2.64. Ely has a high rate of home ownership at 64.5%​​. In terms of educational attainment, the highest rate of high school graduation is among Native American people with a rate of 100%, and the highest rate of bachelor’s degrees is among other race people with a rate of 71.79%​​. Language-wise, 88.79% of Ely residents speak only English, while 11.21% speak other languages, predominantly Spanish​​. The overall poverty rate stands at 13.26%, with the highest poverty rates observed among Black individuals (25%) and the lowest among Native individuals (0.82%)​​.

Points of Interest

  1. Nevada Northern Railway Museum: This historical gem is a must-visit for railway enthusiasts and anyone interested in the region’s railroad history. The museum is home to a collection of vintage locomotives, passenger cars, and other rail-related artifacts. Visitors can take guided tours that not only provide insights into the history of the Nevada Northern Railway but also offer the unique opportunity to hop aboard these beautifully restored trains. The immersive experience transports visitors back in time, allowing them to imagine the days when these trains were the lifeline of the region.
  2. Great Basin National Park: Just a short drive from Ely, Great Basin National Park is a natural wonder that never fails to awe its visitors. The park’s main attraction is the Lehman Caves, a stunning underground labyrinth adorned with intricate stalactites and stalagmites. Above ground, you’ll find pristine alpine lakes, rugged mountain peaks, and ancient bristlecone pine forests, some of which are thousands of years old. Hikers can explore a variety of trails, each offering unique perspectives of the park’s diverse landscapes.
  3. Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park: These beehive-shaped charcoal ovens are a testament to Ely’s mining past. Built in the late 19th century, these ovens were used to produce charcoal for smelting ore. Today, they stand as impressive relics of a bygone era and are open for exploration. Visitors can learn about the arduous work of charcoal production and how it fueled the mining boom in the region.
  4. Ely Renaissance Village: Located in downtown Ely, this beautifully restored area transports visitors back to the late 19th century. Stroll through the village’s historic buildings, which include a blacksmith shop, a general store, and a saloon. Costumed interpreters bring the past to life, providing fascinating insights into the lives of early settlers and miners in Ely. It’s an immersive experience that offers a glimpse into the challenges and triumphs of the city’s pioneers.
  5. Garnet Hill: Rockhounding enthusiasts will find Garnet Hill to be a captivating destination. Known for its abundance of garnets, this site offers the opportunity to search for these semiprecious gemstones. It’s a fun and educational experience for visitors of all ages. The thrill of discovering your own garnets amidst the desert landscape adds to the appeal of this unique attraction.
  6. White Pine Public Museum: This museum is a treasure trove of local history and culture. It features a diverse collection of artifacts, including items from the indigenous Shoshone tribe, showcasing the deep-rooted heritage of the region. Visitors can explore exhibits on mining, ranching, and the development of Ely, gaining a comprehensive understanding of the city’s past.
  7. Success Loop Scenic Drive: For those seeking scenic beauty, the Success Loop Scenic Drive is a must. This picturesque route offers breathtaking views of the surrounding valleys and mountains. Whether you’re driving or cycling, the winding roads take you through diverse landscapes, from lush forests to arid desert terrains. The drive is particularly stunning during the changing seasons, with vibrant fall foliage and snow-capped peaks in the winter.
  8. Ely Art Bank: Housed in a historic building in downtown Ely, the Ely Art Bank showcases the creative talents of local artists. Visitors can browse through a diverse range of artworks, from paintings to sculptures, all created by artists who call Ely and the surrounding region their home. It’s a fantastic opportunity to appreciate the thriving arts community in the heart of this charming city.
  9. Cave Lake State Park: Located just outside Ely, Cave Lake State Park is a year-round recreational paradise. The centerpiece of the park is the pristine Cave Lake, where visitors can enjoy fishing, boating, and swimming during the summer months. In winter, the lake transforms into a hub for ice fishing and ice skating. Hiking trails, campgrounds, and picnicking areas make this park a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
  10. Central Theatre: This historic movie theater in downtown Ely has been providing entertainment to the community for generations. Step inside and you’ll find a charming venue where you can catch the latest Hollywood releases, as well as occasional special screenings and events. It’s a piece of Ely’s history that continues to bring joy to both locals and visitors.


Neighboring Cities

  1. McGill:
    • Location: McGill is a charming small town situated to the north of Ely. It is easily accessible from Ely and provides a unique perspective on the history of the region.
    • Historical McGill Drugstore Museum: One of the standout attractions in McGill is the McGill Drugstore Museum. This museum offers visitors a fascinating journey into the past. Preserving the heritage of the town, it houses a collection of artifacts and exhibits that depict the life and times of McGill in the early 20th century. The drugstore itself has been beautifully restored to its former glory, complete with vintage pharmacy items, soda fountain memorabilia, and more.
    • Close-Knit Community: McGill is renowned for its close-knit community, where neighbors know one another, and a friendly atmosphere prevails. Residents take pride in their town’s history and work together to maintain its unique character. It’s a place where traditions are cherished, and newcomers are warmly welcomed.
    • Outdoor Opportunities: Beyond its historical attractions, McGill is surrounded by stunning natural landscapes. The nearby mountains and wilderness areas offer opportunities for hiking, camping, and exploring the great outdoors. Whether you’re an avid hiker or simply seeking a tranquil escape, McGill’s proximity to nature makes it an appealing destination.
  2. Ruth:
    • Location: Ruth is a small town located to the south of Ely. It is a quiet and historic community with a rich copper mining history that has left an indelible mark on the area.
    • Mining Heritage: Ruth’s claim to fame lies in its copper mining heritage. The town was once a bustling center of copper mining activity, and remnants of this industry can still be seen in the form of old mining structures and equipment. Visitors interested in mining history will find Ruth to be an intriguing destination.
    • Rural Charm: With its small population and rural setting, Ruth exudes a peaceful and rustic charm. It’s a place where the pace of life is unhurried, making it an ideal retreat for those seeking a break from the hustle and bustle of urban living.
    • Scenic Surroundings: The town is surrounded by picturesque landscapes, making it an excellent starting point for outdoor adventures. Hiking, off-roading, and exploring the nearby wilderness are popular activities for both residents and visitors. The serene beauty of the area’s natural surroundings adds to Ruth’s appeal.
  3. Baker:
    • Location: Baker is a gateway town to Great Basin National Park, making it an ideal base for those looking to explore this stunning national park. It is situated to the east of Ely and offers a unique blend of rustic charm and outdoor recreational opportunities.
    • Gateway to Great Basin National Park: Baker’s proximity to Great Basin National Park positions it as a convenient starting point for park visitors. The town serves as a hub for travelers looking to experience the park’s wonders, including Lehman Caves, the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive, and a wide range of hiking trails.
    • Rustic Appeal: Baker retains its small-town, rural character. Visitors will find comfortable accommodations, dining options, and friendly locals who are happy to share their knowledge about the park and the surrounding area. It’s a place where you can unwind after a day of exploring the natural beauty of the region.
    • Outdoor Recreation: In addition to its connection to the national park, Baker itself offers outdoor recreational opportunities. The surrounding valleys and mountains provide excellent hiking, mountain biking, and wildlife-watching experiences. It’s an adventurer’s paradise with ample opportunities to connect with nature.



Ely, Nevada, offers a unique blend of historical significance, natural beauty, and a close-knit community spirit. Despite its small size, the city has a rich cultural and historical heritage, evident in its demographics, educational achievements, and points of interest. The neighboring cities of McGill, Ruth, and Baker further complement Ely’s appeal, each contributing its unique characteristics to this region of Nevada.


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