It couldn't be further from Las Vegas than from here to the moon. But hey! this hotel is looking very Nevada-ish old-school neon with extra curricular enticement. Before walking through the doors of the historic Hotel Nevada & Gambling Hall I'm stepping on the stars in the footpath. Wayne Newton, Ingrid Bergman, Gary Cooper and other Hollywood and Las Vegas notables. This was surprising as Ely is a bit off the beaten track and certainly not in the grand five-star food chain.
The hotel was built in 1926 (six storeys too) and was the first building in the state to be fire-proofing.
Rooms were rented for $1.50 and up - touted as all with private toilet, '85 per cent private baths'.
Prohibition was still in effect and the hotel entertained with bootlegged refreshments and you could have a punt all day.
Ah, the heady days of 'Bathtub Gin' made from raw alcohol, water and flavourings and the gentle tipple of 'White Lightning' supplied by the locals made for an interesting aperitif or two!
The hotel is as she was all that time ago. OK modern appliances and all that comes with the 21st century but is hasn't been tricked up at all - in fact it's a classic, historic, atmospheric mess.
Walk in the door and the pokies (slot machines) are winking and blinking, paraphernalia of the past Wild West and Wild Rocker days adorn the walls and lots of wonderful nostalgic black and white images crowd the walls.
I enter a small lift and am deposited on the third floor for my room - damn, I don't get the Jimmy Stewart room.
Small room (as they were built almost 90 years ago); get my WiFi mojo happening and cosy up on my bed with a few chains hanging over it - more rustic décor than S&M.
A great sleep and down to a full-on Nevada breakfast - I'll have the lot'. Gotta love American breakfasts - this meal would take me out rustling cattle, fighting a range war, starting a gold rush and back home again for a barn dance - yeeha!
Many of the rooms have nameplates including John Wayne - this hotel was a stopping overnight place as the starts from the 30s onwards would be motoring to Sun Valley and other holiday resorts.
If you are ever in this neck of the woods - check out Ely, as it's got a wide-street, quiet nights kind of appeal - it's High Desert country and most of the downtown buildings have quaint painted murals depicting the city's colourful history of pioneers, miners and the Pont Express AND . . .
the rich railroad history is classic here. You can even have a holiday and pay about $800-900 for the privilege of working on a classic loco - for train buffs this is holiday Nirvana.
The Nevada Northern Railway National Historic Landmark is the last of its kind - the sole survivor of the grand era of railroading in the Silver State. But there's no death throes here - it's a living, breathing, operating railroad. No pretty glass cases here holding polished remnants of machinery - this is get down and dirty, gritty equipment in the vast complex of buildings.
There are four original steam locomotives, six original diesel locos, and more than 60 pieces of original rolling stock - the oldest piece dates to 1872 when President Ulysses S. Grant sat in the White House (and not on a $50 bill).
Climb aboard and travel back in time - the train's waiting for you.
You can have Railway Reality Week - to work on the Railroad, for a hands-on experience for around $US999; a Winter Photo Shoots special - witness railroading as it was last century and photograph century-old original steam locos pulling vintage freight and passenger cars, around $US500.
Ely is in White Pine County, in the heart of Nevada's scenic heartland - founded in 1970 as a trading post called Murry Station, and eventually grew to be one of the country's major copper mining regions.
It's located at the crossroads of US Highways 50, 93 and 6.
www.nnry.com and the facebook page for the railway is www.facebook.com/nnry1 and on check out www.youtube.com/nnry1Happy trails and Rails . . .