Home to one of the largest continually operating copper mines in Nevada, ghost towns with a very distinctive past, Pony Express history, American Indian heritage, and some of the best high desert recreation in the state sure makes eastern Nevada a captivating and mysterious place. Lucky for us, we’ve got Ely’s White Pine Public Museum to spell it all out for us. As one of the region’s more robust museums, be sure to swing through when road tripping the Loneliest Road in America.
Since opening in the 1950s, the White Pine Public Museum has swiftly delivered many threads of history important to the Ely and Nevada story. Learn everything you want to know America’s first transcontinental highway, or as we like to call it, The Loneliest Road in America, then dive into fascinating stories about the area’s first inhabitants with a seriously impressive American Indian display that consists of baskets, arrowheads, intricate beadwork and more. Despite such a short-lived operation, the Pony Express Route ran through northern Nevada, and the White Pine Museum does a great job at spelling out the importance of that history, along with ranching and buckaroo history that happened in the area, too. The museum is also home to an impressive mineral collection that includes more than 300 types of rocks and minerals from the region, visitors can find samples of gold, silver and copper ore that came from the hills surrounding Ely. Outdoor exhibits include mining equipment, a caboose that originally belonged to the Nevada Northern Railway, a historic jail cell and complete historic pioneer cabin.
THE CAVE BEAR
One of the main draws at the White Pine Public Museum is the storied Cave Bear. This prehistoric giant bear roamed North America during the Pleistocene era around 11,000 years ago, and was the most common bear in the region. Sometimes called the Short-Faced Bear, these ancient creatures had just that—a disproportionately short snout compared to other bears. Though just rediscovered in 1982, a Short-Faced Cave Bear was discovered in White Pine County. Today, a replicated model of this fascinating create is on display at the White Pine County Museum.
CHERRY CREEK RAILROAD DEPOT
Another impressive feature that makes any trip to the White Pine Public Museum leap from great to grand is tucked away in the outside exhibit—something you may not even notice at first glance, but when you do, there’s no turning back. Here, visitors will find the original Cherry Creek Ghost Town Railroad Depot that formerly sat at the townsite, a stunning 53 miles north of Ely. Most of what you see in Cherry Creek today is in a fascinating arrested state of decay, and the high desert elements would’ve claimed this very depot too, if it weren’t for a handful of locals who decided to save it and relocate it to the museum. Relocated to the museum in 1990, local elementary school students raised $11,000 to move this historic structure.
Now a century old, the second you step through the threshold looks, feels and smells like a step back in time. Though the building was meant to serve the railroad, the depot manager and his family lived in a private residence in the back half of the depot. This place is so good, it looks like a movie set, stacked with tons of original relics important to the depot operation like large steamer trunks, luggage scales, lanterns, typewriters, telegraphs and ticketing relics and more. In the living quarters in the back half of the building, expect to find a living room, bedroom, kitchen and common areas on display with relics true to the era.
Open from daily from 10:00 to 4:00 p.m. The museum is closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
Admission to the White Pine Public Museum is $5.00 per person. Admission is free for children under the age of 12. Museum memberships are available—for more information, please contact the White Pine Public Museum at (775) 289-4710