Highway 50 Road Trip – Day 2 : Ely and Eureka

Day two of our Highway 50, Loneliest Road in America road trip through Nevada. We stopped at Ward Charcoal Ovens State Park, White Pine County Museum, Northern Nevada Railway, and ate a delicious dinner at the Jailhouse Cellblock Restaurant in Ely, Nevada before staying the night at the Gold Country Inn in Eureka, Nevada.

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September 2, 2022

Ward Charcoal Ovens

We left Cleve Creek around noon and headed towards Ely, Nevada to see the Northern Nevada Railway and the White Pine County Museum.  We also had dinner reservations at the Jailhouse Cellblock Steakhouse for 5:30pm.  Our actual first stop was at the Ward Charcoal Ovens located just east of Ely. We were the only ones there, and we took our time to explore each of the ovens.  At the path entrance there is a sign for the Charcoal Ovens and envelopes to use to pay your entrance fee.  The fees are based upon your vehicle’s license plate, $5 for Nevada license plates and $10 for all others. You place your payment in the envelope, tear off the little hangtag as your receipt and hang this inside your car to show you have paid.  There is also a box which is supposed to have the park stamp for the Nevada State Parks Passport book, but there wasn’t anything there. We spent about twenty minutes exploring the ovens before we headed back to Highway 50 to go to Ely. 

White Pine County Museum

We went to the White Pine County Museum first, and we took our time exploring their exhibits. They have exhibits from both the history of the town including medical equipment, sporting equipment, and they also have some natural artifacts such as the cave bear and mountain lion skeletons. There’s a beautifully ornate horse drawn carriage on display, and they are collecting donations to restore it. They also have some exterior exhibits behind the museum building.  Amongst various artifacts there are also a train depot and a log cabin you can enter to explore.  The train depot was interesting as it was also where the station master lived so there are furnished living quarters to see when you’re inside.  It didn’t seem that big from the outside, but it was a larger and more comfortable living space that the Gilbert cabin.  The cabin consists of two rooms, a main room and a bedroom.  There is a case containing a horse hide coat with the hair looking very lush.  We returned to the main museum to get our passports stamped and to buy some souvenirs. 

Northern Nevada Railway

Our next stop was the Northern Nevada Railway, and I had become a member in the months prior to our trip just to support them.  I also donated to a fund for them to transport two historic train engines to their museum.  The donations to that fundraiser entered you into a raffle, and I had won four tickets for their train rides.  Unfortunately, they weren’t running trains on the day we arrived, which is why we had time to relax at our campsite that morning.  One of the great things about this museum is that you can walk around the shop where they are restoring and maintaining the trains.  You need to always be aware of your surroundings as there are maintenance pits and moving trains, but it’s access that is rare.  The shop also has a cat named, Dirt, that claimed this as his home, and Dirt has a new friend who has been named Dirt Jr. or DJ for short.  We didn’t see either of the cats, but we did see where the eat and sleep.  You can’t climb onto any of the trains, but it was a great experience seeing everything they have including a snowplow.  The main museum has several buildings to explore, some only from the outside, but there is a large office space which is full of historical information and displays.  We returned to the gift shop to buy some souvenirs, you can also get your passport stamped here, before we headed outside to relax on the shaded benches they have for those waiting to board the trains. We had a few hours to kill before our dinner reservation, so we took this time to relax and have a snack.  We headed downtown where the Jailhouse Cellblock Restaurant is located after about forty-five minutes.

Ely Murals

We found a spot to park on Aultman Street, which is also Highway 50, and we went to Economy Drug and Soda Fountain for some malts.  Then we walked around downtown looking at the murals and the Ely Renaissance Society Sculpture Park displays.  We decided to move my car closer to the restaurant, then we waited for the restaurant to open.  There was a jailhouse door and a bell near the sidewalk across the street from the restaurant so we went over so I could take some silly pictures.  When I read the sign, I noticed a miss-spelled word. I chuckled, then thought what if was spelled that way in the “old days.”  I took my silly pictures then we went back across the street to wait for our reservation time inside the building.

Jailhouse Cellblock Steakhouse Restaurant

The Jailhouse Cellblock Steakhouse Restaurant is located inside the Jailhouse Motel and Casino. The entrance to the restaurant is around the corner on 5th Street.  The restaurant doesn’t open until 5pm and our reservations were at 5:30pm, and they did seat us a few minutes early.  The food was really good, and you’re really there for the environment of sitting in a “jail cell” eating your “last meal” so to speak.  I loved that the lamps hanging over the tables were various liquor bottles. Ours was a Jack Daniels bottle.  Because these are supposed to be jail cells, each table or table area is a little more private as you can only see into the cell across the aisle from you.  Across from us was a cell with two tables so it could seat about eight people as ours was only a single table to seat up to four diners. I had chicken and my partner had steak, and we both really liked it.  We didn’t have dessert as we were quite full and ready to head to our hotel in Eureka, Nevada.  I was ready for a shower since we had camped the previous night and only did minimal washing.  As much as I love to camp nowadays, I hated it when I was younger and well into adulthood, I don’t sleep well in both quantity and quality when I camp. I was ready for a hot shower and a warm comfy bed. While temperatures were in the mid to upper 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, the temperatures dropped by 40 degrees at night.

A hotel room with a show playing on the television.

Eureka Gold Country Inn

We arrived at the Gold Country Inn, and there wasn’t any parking so we parked by the front door and would inquire about any additional parking. We checked in, and it looks like a couple run the Gold Country Inn and Jackson House Hotel (booking, check-in, and check-out is for Jackson House is handled by and at the Gold Country Inn.)  I had booked a king room by phone (their on-line reservation system is suspect), but upon arrival they were charging more than what I had been told.  I didn’t receive a confirmation by email to prove it, but they put us in a double queen room which is less expensive.  Having a bed to myself after camping on the ground was going to let me have a wonderful sleep so we weren’t annoyed by the change.  They told us that the lot across the alley / road behind the hotel is also hotel parking and we could park there for the night. Each room at the Gold Country Inn comes with a refrigerator and microwave, and we had a cooler with drinks and veggie snacks in the car, so we brought some of that inside the room in case we got hungry later.    Something to understand about visiting some of these small towns is that there aren’t many places to get food, and most of them will close early, 5 or 6pm.  It’s good to have snacks available in case you get hungry. 

The bathtub was very deep, so I chose to take soak in a hot bath, then showered to wash my hair.  I felt both refreshed and relaxed while updating my itinerary and wrote up a recap of what we had seen and done on our trip so far.

Estimated Cost Day 2 – September 14, 2021 (all amounts rounded up to nearest US dollar): $317

Fuel: $50 (Ely)

Ward Charcoal Ovens State Park: $10

White Pine County Museum: $14 for two

Nevada Northern Railway: $20 for two

Dinner at Jailhouse Cellblock Restaurant: $100

Hotel in Eureka: $123 (includes AAA Membership discount)

Actual Cost Total: $249

Fuel: $0

White Pine County Museum: $14 admission for 2

White Pine County Museum: $18 for souvenirs

Nevada Northern Railway: $20 admission for 2

Nevada Northern Railway: $14 souvenirs

Dinner at Jailhouse Cellblock Restaurant: $60

Hotel in Eureka: $123 (includes AAA Membership discount)