Ruth, Ely and McGill
by John C. Evanoff
Finally we finish our ride across
Highway 50, the “Loneliest Road in America,” at the
edge of Eastern Nevada where we visit my friends Ruth, Ely and McGill.
Few places in Nevada move me to
reflect on fishing and the outdoors more than this region of the
state. Within a fifty square mile area there are so many fishing,
hunting, trail hiking, sightseeing and backpacking areas that I
could write two or three columns about this territory, but I will
endeavor to pack it all into one.
First of all is fishing. Cave Lake,
Comins Lake, Illipah Reservoir, Basset Lake and a multitude of creeks
and streams in the region are some of the best trophy fish areas
in all of Nevada. Cave Lake has the record for the largest German
Brown Trout and Comins Lake has the record for the largest Northern
Pike with each fish weighing in at more than 27 pounds. Cave and
Comins Lakes are just east of Ely and attract the most attention
by anglers. But the other lakes and creeks in the region are loaded
with rainbow, German brown and brook trout and pike, catfish, and
My wife, Sharon, and I have fond
memories of all of these areas but especially Cave Lake which has
a clean well kept state maintained overnight campground and picnic
area. We had many days when we caught and released as many as a
hundred trout in a day.
The hunting in the region can be
summed up with one word…awesome. Bird hunting includes Sage
grouse, blue grouse, chukar, dove, quail, duck, geese and pheasant.
Some of the largest sagehen I have ever bagged were in White Pine
County and the Schell Creek Range. Also, the Mule Deer are huge
in the Success Loop area and south of Ely in the Egen Range, the
Elk herds have grown substantially.
Success Loop is a few miles east
of Ely where a paved road travels towards Cave Lake State Park.
If you have a day or two, take the thirty or more mile drive along
Steptoe Creek and over Success Summit in the fall to see some of
the most moving and remarkable shades of autumn colors you will
ever see in your life. When I was much younger, we used to gather
chokecherries and elderberries in the canyons and produce wonderful
pancake syrup. Some surprising rock formations in the canyons make
for great photographs and the hillsides are loaded with wildlife
including Mountain Blue Bird, pinion jays, rabbit, golden eagle,
coyote and Clark’s Nutcraker. Occasionally, you may also see
a mountain lion. I’ve seen mountain lion on the cliff wall
side of Cave Lake and at Duck Creek.
More than 40 ghost towns are located
in this area of White Pine County which produced more wealth than
all the other mines in Nevada put together. Most notably, the town
of Ruth was established in 1903 with the discovery of copper and
within a few years, the Nevada Northern Railroad began transporting
copper ore to the smelters in McGill and 60 pound copper cakes through
Cherry Creek north to the Central Pacific railroad line at Wells,
Nevada. Kennecott Mining began to close down operations in the area
in 1956 and employees of the company were given first rights of
ownership of their homes in Ely and McGill. McGill up to that period
consisted of segregated blocks of houses and work camps divided
by ethnic group.
South of Ely about five miles is
the little company town of Ruth. If you take the county road 44A
past the old buildings, you will come to the Liberty Pit Overlook.
This pit is the result of more than fifty years of huge steam shovels
moving more than 40,000 tons of ore per day from the earth producing
what is considered the largest Glory Hole in the United States.
More than 14 miles of train track within the Liberty Pit were taken
out in the late 1950’s and replaced with roads for giant dump
trucks. The breathtaking view of this astounding hole makes Ruth
a must see on your trip. By 1978, Kennecott had closed all the mines
in the area but some new mining companies have taken up ventures
in and around the Ruth and Hamilton regions known as the Robinson
Region. If you are an amateur prospector, you might also want to
stop at Garnet Hill near Keystone Junction to try to find some quality
For all its history and attractions,
one thing sets Ely apart from any other town in Nevada which is
the restored Nevada Northern Railway. The Nevada Northern Railway
provides railroad buffs a chance to board an antique steam locomotive
for a ride from East Ely to Ruth and north to McGill and Cherry
Creek. The scheduled “Ghost Train” runs begin on Memorial
Day and go through Labor Day with inexpensive fares and some great
events throughout the year. The depot in East Ely on Avenue A also
has some great pictures and museum pieces from this famous copper,
gold and silver mining period. You can find out more about the rides
and events at http://nevadanorthernrailway.net/index.htm.
Also, the White Pine County Museum is just down the street from
the depot and is a great place to see mining samples and the local
history of the area.
You could spend years in discovering
more about this region of Nevada and you would be hard pressed to
find an area as diverse and beautiful from the Steptoe Valley to
the mountain peaks of the Schell Creek and Snake Ranges. When you
go, take the time to visit as many of these areas and in as many
seasons as possible. You will be well rewarded with fantastic memories
Next month, we will head north from
Ely on Highway 93 to Wendover, Nevada, Pilot Peak, Blue Lakes and
the Bonneville Salt Flat, the location of some of the fastest men
on earth on the ground and in the air.