Another of the many mining towns that were built in Nevada during the 1800s, Ely has two particularly appealing attractions: the Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park and the Nevada Northern Railway Museum. The Ward Charcoal Ovens site is outside of town. These 30-ft/10-m beehives made of fieldstone look ancient and mysterious, but actually they're kilns built in the 1870s for charcoal production. Timber from the surrounding area was burned in the ovens to produce fuel for smelters, so these kilns really stand out on an eerie, alien-looking landscape. The park also has camping areas and trails with great views. http://www.parks.nv.gov/ww.htm.

The Nevada Northern Railway Museum is a superior museum that re-creates the golden days of the rails. It encompasses an entire rail yard (that of Nevada Northern, which shut down in 1982), including everything from the big locomotives to the depot to the engine house. Best of all, the museum offers train rides powered by either a steam or diesel locomotive. The rides are usually offered on Saturdays, May-September, but call ahead to get an exact schedule. Phone 775-289-2085.

Located 215 mi/345 km north of Las Vegas, Ely is yet another of the Nevada towns where you can visit a legal brothel.

Dedicated anglers should be aware that there's good trout fishing 15 mi/24 km southeast at Cave Lake State Park. The park also offers winter sports, camping and trails. Views of the mountains and lakes are beautiful. http://www.parks.nv.gov/cl.htm.

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