Dennis Cassinelli: Memories of visits to Ely |

Dennis Cassinelli: Memories of visits to Ely

By Dennis Cassinelli

In keeping with my efforts to only write articles about places I have been to or experienced, I am telling about a few of my experiences in Ely.

On one of my first trips to Ely, I was in town to work on a project for the Nevada Department of Transportation. Having forgotten to get an advance on my travel expenses, I asked if there was a First National Bank of Nevada in Ely where I could cash a check. I was told there was, but when I got there, I found the only First National Bank in town was the First National Bank of Ely and they would not cash my check.

Another employee and I then checked in to the Nevada Hotel where a savior named Maryanne rescued me and cashed my personal check. We were then able to have a Basque dinner and spend the next two days in beautiful downtown Ely, former home of former First Lady Pat Nixon, wife of former President Richard Nixon.

When we went in for dinner, the special for the evening was chicken livers and onions. I had always detested liver but I decided to try the special anyway. To my surprise, I actually enjoyed the dish the way they it was prepared. Fortunately, Basque dinners come with several side dishes.

After dinner, we asked what entertainment was available in Ely, but all they could suggest was a ladies bowling night at the Ely bowling alley. We then decided it might be a hoot to go down and watch the women bowlers.

My co-worker, Jerry Hall, and I then decided to go up to the front desk and ask that they announce on the intercom that we were talent scouts from the Women’s International Bowling Association. For the remainder of the evening, the women bribed us with more beers than we could possibly drink.

At the Nevada Hotel where we stayed, there was an interesting section cut from a bristlecone pine tree from the Mount Wheeler area, which is now a part of the Great Basin National Park. There were markers on the tree rings of the tree that showed when the tree was alive, such as the birth of Christ, Columbus discovering America, The pilgrims landing, the Declaration of Independence, etc. Bristlecone pines are now protected by law.

I have since been to what is now the Great Basin National Park on a hunting trip and I climbed to the area where the Bristlecone pines grow. Mary and I also visited Lehman Caves and took the tour through the caves to see all the beautiful underground formations.

Family members and I went to nearby Cave Lake one time to go ice fishing. Though we did not catch much, we enjoyed seeing the Cave Lake State Park. There are other attractions in White Pine County, including the Ward Charcoal ovens, and the Northern Nevada Railroad, which is now a major tourist attraction. West of Ely is the massive Robinson copper pit at Ruth that is worth seeing. When I was there, there were huge dump trucks coming up out of the circular pit loaded with copper ore.

Dennis Cassinelli is a Dayton author and historian. You can order his books at a discount on his blog at