Discover the fascinating history of eastern Nevada at the White Pine Public Museum in downtown Ely. As one of the region’s more robust museums, be sure to swing though when cruising the Loneliest Road in America.
Learn all about the area’s first inhabitants with a seriously impressive American Indian display comprised of baskets, arrowheads, intricate beadwork, and more. The Pony Express route ran through northern Nevada, and the White Pine Public Museum does a masterful job at showcasing those stories alongside ranching and buckaroo history. The museum is also home to an impressive mineral collection with more than 300 samples from the region, including gold, silver, and copper ore mined from the hills surrounding Ely. Outdoor exhibits feature mining equipment, a caboose that originally belonged to the Nevada Northern Railway, a historic jail cell, and a complete historic pioneer cabin.
The Cave Bear
One of the main attractions at the White Pine Public Museum is the storied Cave Bear. This prehistoric giant bear roamed North America during the Pleistocene era and was the most common bear in this region of Nevada. Sometimes called the Short-Faced Bear, these ancient creatures had a disproportionately short snout compared to other bears. In 1982, Cave Bear bones were discovered in White Pine County, and a replica model is always on display.
Cherry Creek Railroad Depot
Another impressive feature of the White Pine Public Museum is tucked away in the outside exhibit—something you may not even notice at first glance, but when you do, prepare to be wowed. Here, visitors will find the original Cherry Creek Ghost Town Railroad Depot that formerly sat at the townsite 53 (!) miles north of Ely. Most of what you see in Cherry Creek today is in an 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 in 1990. Local elementary school students raised $11,000 to move this historic structure!
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. Now more than a century old, this place looks like a movie set, stacked with tons of original relics important to depot operations like large steamer trunks, luggage scales, lanterns, typewriters, telegraphs, ticketing artifacts, and more. In the living quarters in the back half of the building, expect to find a living room, bedroom, kitchen, and common area with true-to-the-era items on display.
White Pine Public Museum is open daily from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, and closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Winter hours are 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM daily.
Admission to White Pine Public Museum is $7 for ages 13 and up, $4 for ages 5-12, and children 4 and under are free. Museum memberships start at $30.