Hotel Nevada & Gambling Hall ~ Historic Ely!

Hotel Nevada & Gambling Hall ~ Historic Ely!

Touring historic cities and ghost towns in the old west is something that many folks around the globe dream of doing.  Old wild west travel destinations certainly have a timeless charm that attract those who are captivated by the legends that occurred long before this vast territory was a tame place to be. Plenty of old west history revolves around the mid 1800s gold rush era and not every boom town turned into a ghost town after the mother lode was depleted. So much money was made in some of the old mining towns that the communities thrived well into the age of automobile tourism, while others have stayed afloat by continuing mining operations to this day.

A few old Nevada mining towns that are still booming in this modern age are Virginia City, Tonopah and Ely. Since these mother lode towns were never completely abandoned and plenty of capital was built up, very little of the past has been lost and evidence of just how much money flowed through these communities can still be seen. In the living mother lode boom towns, many of the original old lavish furnishings, works of art and luxury items still remain intact. The old saloons still have the original long bar and antique Faro Boards can still be seen parked in the gambling halls.

In the old mother lode towns, no expense was spared in the way of luxurious western style comfort and the antiques from this age in history are a rare sight in this modern age. Visiting a legendary mother lode boom town is a good way to step back in time to experience the best of what the old west had to offer and there is no better place to start than historic Ely, Nevada!

Ely actually is one of the oldest communities in Nevada and the history of this place began long before European settlers arrived. The Ely region offered a natural pass through the mountains going west that was composed of vast open plains that offered plenty of food to gather and there was plenty of wild game to hunt in the hills.  This natural terrain has not changed much through time and the mountains around Ely are still a prime hunting ground. Mountain men, pioneers and prospectors that followed the native trails into this region found the conditions to their liking, especially since the next section of Nevada heading west through the desert and over the Sierra Nevada Mountains was truly something to dread.

During the gold rush years, plenty of settlers passed through Ely and some decided to take up roots.  No major gold deposits were discovered in Ely, but this city did get its jump start when the Pony Express days began.  Ely soon evolved from being a place where Pony Express riders hopped on fresh horses, to becoming a major stage coach stop.  

A sometime shortly after Ely became a stagecoach stop and trading post, a huge copper ore plume was discovered in the nearby hills.  The copper mining industry grew big in this region and Ely turned into a railroad boom town.  Gold was also discovered in this same mining district but, it was copper that guaranteed that Ely would remain on the map. By the early 1900s when the age of western train travel tourism was coming to a peak, Ely evolved into a major city.  Steam locomotives pulled carloads of tourists all over the western states back in those days and Ely actually was prime destination that offered old west style luxury at its best. 

Eventually the copper mining industry tapered off and so did railway tourism, but fortunately the age of automobile touring began at about the same time.  Automobile tourism caused the railway companies downsize and the tourism railway in the Ely region was no longer feasible, so only the mining operations continued to used the tracks. As a result, the regional railroad operations that served Ely were locked in time capsule, which eventually evolved into becoming the Nevada Northern Railway Museum. This local museum features the oldest continuously operating steam engine in the world. Short line railway tours can be booked for Steam Engine 40 during the long summer season and this excursion is highly recommended!  

Old west travel destinations certainly have a timeless charm that attracts those who are drawn to a simpler time gone by. Some of these places are lesser known and some never really are in the limelight.  One thing that is guaranteed, old fashioned friendly western style hospitality is still number one in these parts.  Ely is a shining example of old fashioned western hospitality and this high ideal is even advertised in big bold letters on the side of the historic Nevada Hotel & Gambling Hall building!

Ely is the home of several historic gambling hall hotels that truly are treasure troves. I stayed at the Prospector Hotel & Gambling Hall while in town and the decor is like being in a museum that features the best of the old west. The old historic Nevada Hotel & Gambling Hall is the real deal, as far as authenticity is concerned, because the big money has been flowing through this place since back in the early days of Ely. All the celebrities that visited Ely long ago have stars on the sidewalk in front of this place and the guest areas on the casino floor still look like they did back in the days of the old wild west. Priceless western antiques and luxury items from the gold can be seen throughout this historic hotel and the experience is memorable!

During my downtown Ely visit, I planned to do breakfast in the cozy western diner at the Nevada Hotel & Gambling Hall before touring the Nevada Northern Train Museum and the Lehman Caves in the Great Basin national Park. A big heavy breakfast was well within order and the Nevada Ranchero special sure did hit the spot that chilly rainy morning! The old west style breakfast specials are definitely worth giving a try in this place and price of casino food always presents a good value!

There are several historic sites, gambling halls, mining exhibits and old west museums to experience in downtown Ely.  There are also several antique shops, old mercantile businesses and good western wear shops in this old town.  For those who tend to tend to prefer the wild side, there several old saloons, bars and legal Nevada brothels to choose from too!  

Ely is a gateway for outdoor adventures of every kind.   Elk and mule deer hunting is a prime attraction.  Plenty of good hunting guides can be found in this area.  There are several good fishing lakes nearby too.  The old Ward Charcoal Kilns State Park, Cave Lakes Park, Echo Canyon and the Great Basin National Park are within an hour’s drive from Ely, so the outdoor activity options are nearly limitless.

Ely, Nevada has always had plenty going on in the way of tourism and this is especially true in this modern age. Old historic Ely still flaunts the luxurious past from an age when the big mining industry money was flowing like water. Old fashioned western style luxury is still easy to find in downtown Ely and the historic Nevada Hotel & Gambling Hall certainly still is the star of the show!  


Author: wildwestdestinations

I worked as a chef in remote resorts and National Parks, which provided the time to explore western travel destinations. I have a BA Degree in Culinary Management with high honors and currently I am working on a Masters Degree in Adult Education. My food and travel blog writing began as a means to generate income during college and now photo journalism has become my lifestyle.

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