- The Magazine
- Current Issue
- Events & Shows
- Web Extras
- Yellow Pages
Ely’s Nevada Northern Railway provides dinner and a show on historic Steam Engine 93.
Photo: Lorraine Clark (children share a laugh on the Wild West Limited steam train)
A whistle echoed across Steptoe Valley as Nevada Northern Railway’s Engine 93 pulled into the station. A large crowd of passengers milled around the Ely depot waiting for their turn to board the Wild West Limited steam train for the ride to Keystone Gulch. As the conductor shouted “All aboard!” families gathered and climbed into the passenger cars.
Ranchers and miners in their jeans and cowboy hats picked their seats and stretched their legs for the short journey. Some sat in the open flat car, where they would have to be mindful of the smoke and cinders from the coal blowing out of the smoke stack. The full moon was rising, and the evening had cooled off just enough to be pleasant.
The sheriff was met with inquiring glances as he walked through the aisles and explained that the mine’s payroll was in a strong box in the caboose, necessitating extra deputies on the train as a precaution because of rumors that the notorious Ghost Riders gang had been seen in the area.
As the train pulled away from the depot, the sheriff had a run-in with Cat Balou, an expert horsewoman known to ride with the Ghost Riders. The sheriff asked what she was doing on the train, but she protested her innocence, insisting she was just traveling to Keystone to see friends.
Dinner was served, and soon plates of roast beef and cowboy beans were being enjoyed by hungry passengers. The beef was tender, and the beans had bacon and a touch of spice for flavor. Strawberry-peach cobbler with whipped cream made a nice dessert.
The clickety-clack of the wheels became a soothing rhythm as the train ascended the canyon toward the mine. Soon the train was pulling into Keystone, and people began to gather their belongs for the departure. Wicked Lil and the saloon girls emerged, eager for some extra business.
Suddenly, shots rang out as Balou and a desperado emerged from the caboose carrying the strong box with the mine’s payroll. They jumped from the car with the sheriff right behind them. Deputies tried to surround the robbers, but other members of the gang were there to help in the getaway. More shots rang out, and two of the bandits fell to the ground. Cherokee Girl caught a stray bullet and went down.
Balou had her horse ready and took off up the gulch with the deputies right behind her. It wasn’t long before she was captured and brought back to face the judge and jury assembled on the spot. Justice was swift, and at the announcement of the guilty verdict, Balou was marched to the gallows and quickly dispatched.
With the excitement over, it was time for the train to return to Ely. One of the deputies rode along the ridge to assure the passengers they were in good hands and could enjoy the rest of the ride. As the train pulled into the depot, everyone agreed the ride had been great, aided by the episode in Keystone. The conductor helped passengers off, extending invitations for all to return to ride the rails again.
Nevada Northern Railway’s last Wild West Limited train ride of the season is September 15 at 6:30 p.m. This particular themed ride debuted in June. NNRY also hosts an Earth & Sky Train on September 8, a BBQ Train on September 22, and a Taste of Italy Train on September 29. For information on more themed rides, go here.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Nevada Northern Railway
PO Box 150040, East Ely, NV 89315