Hotel Nevada Mural

Hotel Nevada Mural

Ely, Nevada has an interesting history that has been recorded in commissioned murals and other art work. Ely was a stagecoach stop during the 18-month period when the Pony Express delivered mail. This venture was quickly eclipsed by the speed of communication possible with the telegraph. In 1906, copper made this a boom region. It is still a popular tourist stop because it is the intersection of several highways and because there isn’t another city of comparable size for miles. The Lincoln Highway, now Highway 50, was important until Interstate 80 made it the “Loneliest Road in America.” The former Midland Trail, now Route 6, and U. S. 93, which connects from Canada to  Mexico, all meet in Ely, with its current population a little over 4,000 people. Two years ago we had stopped in Ely on a return trip to Arizona but we had no time for local exploration. On this trip, I checked into a downtown motel mid-afternoon. A short walk around the old downtown revealed several instances of mural art work and some additional sculptures. The Ely Renaissance Society is primarily responsible for some 20 commissioned murals to create images of the area’s history and to make the downtown center more attractive. Wei Luan is responsible for the “Liberty Pit” mural. This copper mine in Robinson Canyon was funded in part by money from the Guggenheims. Mark Requa and Daniel Jacking introduced steam-powered shovels that made it financially feasible to recover low-grade ore. Interestingly, Mark Requa is also featured in a mural on the White Pines County Library. Born into a wealthy family, he was given ownership of a local railroad. He also financed a smelter that made for a successful mining operation. Wei Luan’s name is also on the “Cherry Creek Hot Springs” mural. This thriving local area mining town, named for chokecherries, was the location for the Tea Cup and Exchequer mines. Adolph and Elizabeth Sandberg, according to the information plaque, developed the natural geothermal springs which made many of the 6,000 miners living in this boom town happy, and cleaner. Larry Bute executed the “Cattle Drive” mural which depicts cattle shipped to market by rail. Chris Kreider celebrated the work of Italian immigrants in two works, “Building the Railroad” and ” Charcoal Ovens.” A small park in the middle of the downtown also includes several sculpture works which celebrate the “forge” of mines on local history. Surprisingly, a labyrinth designed by Sarah Sweetwater can be walked here. The mural accompanying this entry is found near the entrance to the Hotel Nevada, six stories high built in 1929 and for many years the tallest building in Nevada. A series of stars can be found in the sidewalk in front of the hotel. One of the most prominent is for Pat Nixon. Why? Well, it turns out that Richard Nixon’s wife was born in Ely. A small cities’ interesting history is now overshadowed by the number of vacant buildings with “For sale” signs. What will the future bring to this city desperately celebrating its past?

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