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Nevada is the seat of White Pine County in east central Nevada.
Ely is the commercial center of eastern Nevada with copper
mining assuming a primary role in the local economy and history.
Ely began in 1879 when J. Long moved the post office from what is now Lane Nevada to Ely. The source of the name seems to be in dispute. Of the possible sources of the 'Ely', it is the name of J. Long's home town, Ely Vermont; or it was named after the co-owner of the Raymond and Ely Mine, John Ely from Illinois; or it was named after Smith Ely who was president of the Shelby Copper Mining and Smelting Company.
With its elevation at 6,439 Ely has a clean thin air typical of
the Great Basin. Temperatures drop quickly at night. Located by
a pass in sort of a mountainous cul-de-sac, Ely is protected
from most of the strong winter winds that blow through the
The population numbers for Ely can be misleading. Currently it is about 9,000 plus. The reason for the variation in the numbers is revealing about Ely and much of the American West's small mining towns.
The largest employers tend to be the copper mines nearby. Ely has a long history of boom and bust cycles based on the price of copper in the world and North American markets.
This is different from the 'boom and gone' cycles seen in town's that mine out the ore. It seems that there is plenty of copper in the ground, it just takes a lot of capital to get it. The price of copper has to be high enough to return the investment on the needs the ore's extraction.
This situation is similar to cities
elsewhere that depended oil
production, when the price of oil went down too much, removing
it cost more that what they could sell it for.
Ely has a diverse economic circumstance and has learned to live through and proper during times when the mines are not operating. Tourism, transportation and being and administrative have all contributed to this stability.
Ely is one of those places where its children sometimes leave but where they always seem to come back to. The architecture is egalitarian throughout the city with homes being almost a century old in many places. While the houses vary considerably, none appear to be ostentatious.