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Cobre

 

Elko County, Nevada

 

Cobre is the Spanish word for copper.  Which gives you a fairly significant clue to where this page is going.  On September 9, 1905,  Cobre station was established as the railroad siding where the Nevada Northern Railroad (from the copper mines at Ely) meet the Southern Pacific main-line (about 20 miles south of Montello).  In 1910 Cobre reached its peak at a resident population of 60.  It contained three bars.  The population slowly declined over the next few decades as passenger service on the train from Cobre to Ely declined - people preferred the automobile (Henry Ford Began Mass Production of Automobile in 1913) or bus to Ely instead of the train.  The Southern Pacific Railroad abandoned Cobre Station in November 1948.  The post office closed on May 21, 1956.  Ore shipments continued through the ghost town of Cobre siding until the smelter closed in Ely in June 20, 1983.  Now only foundations of the older town remain.  A cinderblock maintenance building built in the 1960s remains.  The tracks of the Nevada Northern Railroad remain on the grade.   They no longer connect to the main-line.  The Nevada Northern Railway is currently being offered for sale by the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power Company.

 

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USGS Topographic Map of Cobre (1982)

 

Foundation of Water Tower.  The NVGHOSTTOWNS.COM contains a wonderful 1930s photo of the water tower and depot.

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Sidewalk at Depot - directly right and adjacent to the sidewalk is the abandoned grade of the Nevada Northern Railroad.  Again the NVGHOSTTOWNS.COM contains a wonderful 1930s photo of the depot.

According to the Nevada Northern & Railroads of White Pine County Site, NNRY Passenger Service Page - Brief History of Nevada Northern's Passenger Service  

From 1906 to 1941, in excess of 4.6 million passengers rode the Nevada Northern Railroad.  Most of these probably walked the sidewalks of this depot.

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Foundation of the depot
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Initials D.E.P. scratched in concrete of depot
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Main-line tracks - looking east.  The cinderblock maintenance building is on the right,
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Main-line tracks - looking west, sidewalk of depot is on the left.  A mile or so down these tracks is the old ghost town of Toano and Toano cemetery.
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RR tie building (shed) at Cobre

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Main town of Cobre
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Northern terminus of the Nevada Northern Railroad.  Red shack and Cinderblock maintenance building.
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Old car at Cobre
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Water tank at Cobre
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Abandoned structure at Cobre
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Old Propane Stove 
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Mustard, syrup and Gallo wine bottles and old cans.
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Prestone Anti Freeze Coolant
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Shasta Root Beer Can
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Cinderella's slipper?
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Canada Dry, Pepsi Cola, 7up and Coca Cola bottles
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Nevada Northern Railway grade where it crosses the paved road between Oasis and Montello
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Here is a grabbing of interesting information about Cobre:

 

According to the Northern Nevada Railway site (last of the Bonanza Railways page)  

 

"Mark Requa, son of the wealthy Comstock silver magnate, owned the Eureka & Palisade Railroad, a narrow gauge connecting the mining area of Eureka with the Central Pacific Railway (Southern Pacific) at Palisade. Requa was interested in bolstering the sagging economy of the E & P and he explored the local copper properties at Ely, with an extenuation of the E & P in mind. He organized the White Pine Copper Company and soon found need for a substantial railroad.

 

The E & P narrow gauge and an extenuation of 77 miles would require track construction over four mountain passes exceeding 7,000 feet. A route directly from Ely to the Central Pacific (Southern Pacific) would require 140 miles of track construction, but it could be constructed along the level Steptoe Valley all the way. In 1904 Requa hired Adolph Judell to make a preliminary survey from Wells on the CP to Ely. An easier and more direct route to the CP was run to Cobra (Spanish for copper). That same year Requa s White Pine Copper Company merged into other mining properties and the combined firms reorganized as the Nevada Consolidated Copper Company (NCCCo.). Requa was named Vice president and general manager.

 

In May 1905, the White Pine County Commissioners granted NCCCo. a right of way through the downtown streets of Ely to Robinson Canyon, for a railline to reach the mines. On June 1, 1905, the Nevada Northern Railway Company was incorporated under the general laws of the State of Maine, with offices in Portland. By June 14, the railway began business by issuing $3 million in capital stock to NCCCo. to finance construction of the line. By August 1905, the final survey was completed and on September 11 the Utah Construction Co. began construction at Cobre. By March 1906, the Guggenheim interests of New York obtained control of NCCCo."

According to the Nevada Northern & Railroads of White Pine County Site

 

 

"Cobre (Omar) was established in 1905 as the NN northern terminus and interchange with the Southern Pacific. 1910 witnessed a population of 60 and arguably, Cobre's zenith, as it boasted three saloons. Over the next few decades the population declined together with passenger service. SP abandoned the station in Nov 1948 and the post office closed 31 May 1956, although ore shipments continued until the closing of the NN. A cinder block engine house built in the 1960s still remains."

And from the A Nevada Northern Railway History we learn

"The Nevada Northern Railway Company was formally incorporated on June 1, 1905 and a contract was given to the Utah Construction Company to build the line from Steptoe Valley to Cobre.  The steel rails were ordered from the Fuel & Iron Company at Pueblo, Colorado and the ties came from local sources around Ogden, Utah.

Construction began on September 9, 1905.  Heavy snows that winter stopped the work for long periods. Two feet of snow fell in Ely on May 31, 1906.   Regular service to Currie, Nevada, 63 miles from Cobre occurred on June 2, 1906.   Cherry Creek, Nevada, twenty-eight miles further south, celebrated the tracks arrival on July 16, 1906."

From the Nevada Northern & Railroads of White Pine County Site, NNRY Passenger Service Page - Brief History of Nevada Northern's Passenger Service  we discover

"Passenger service on the Nevada Northern Railway spanned a period of 35 years from 1906 to 1941. Over that time, in excess of 4.6 million passengers rode the Great Basin desert rails.

The first passenger train operated on 22 May 1906. A special run for Mark Requa and his guests was made over the 63 miles from Cobre to Currie, while the remaining line south of Currie was still under construction.

Regularly scheduled passenger trains and RPO service between Cobre and Ely were discontinued after 31 July 1941"

From the Nevada Northern & Railroads of White Pine County Site, Nevada Northern Railway Company - A Concise History 1906 - 1983 and to the present  we get this

"In 1920, Nevada Con assumed operations of the ore line; the Nevada Northern Railway retained its role as a common carrier. The ore line trackage remained the property of the Nevada Northern Railway, and a trackage agreement allowed Nevada Con to operate ore trains. Nevada Con train crews operated the ore trains while management was provided by the Nevada Northern Railway. A substantial portion of the Nevada Northern locomotives and rolling stock was sold to Nevada Con at this time.

 

Kennecott Copper Corporation (KCC) acquired full control of Nevada Con in 1933. The name was changed to KCC Nevada Mines Division a full ten years later. Meanwhile, regularly scheduled passenger service between Cobre and Ely was discontinued in 1941.

 

The mines were closed in 1978 and the KCC ore trains to McGill were discontinued. The McGill smelter closed on 20 June 1983, followed one day later by cessation of all Nevada Northern Railway operations."

According to David W. Toll's Ely Site

"The ore mined from the Copper mines at Ely went by Nevada Northern Railway train past the depot and shops in East Ely to the smelter at McGill, where it was processed into "blister copper." This was poured in 60-lb. cakes and hauled north to the main line of the S.P. When the cars returned, they brought coal to fire the enormous power generation plant. All that is in the past tense, however. In 1978 the copper mines closed, the smelter closed, the railroad closed, and most of Kennecott's 1500 local employees were laid off."

Lastly we read from the American Short-line and Regional Railroad Association:

 

"The Nevada Northern Railway, 128 miles of railway connecting McGill Junction to Cobre, Nevada, is being offered for sale by the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power.

 Interested parties should contact John L. Aguilar, Coal Transportation Manager, by phone at (213) 367-0424, or by e-mail at john.aguilar@water.ladwp.com."

 

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Additional Information:  Northeastern Nevada Museum

 

 

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Recent Photos by Dan Turner 5/19/02