By Amy J. Melvin
White Pine Public Museum Director
When I first left my home state of Montana in 2012 and moved to Arizona, I never imagined I’d end up in Ely, Nevada. I thought of all the places in Nevada I could move to, Elko would be at the top of the list. This is all due in part to my husband, who is an engineer with KGHM Robinson. Throughout college, he had always thought he’d work for Barrick or Newmont. When it came time to start applying for jobs, both companies were a dead end. Then KGHM Carlota of Globe, Arizona offered him a job and we left Montana for Arizona. One year and three months later we moved to Ely.
Upon arriving in Ely I thought to myself, “It’s nice to be back in a small town, no more city life and hectic traffic”. I grew up in the small southwest town of Sheridan, Montana. Population: 650. I was asked by many local people how I felt about living in such a “small” town. My answer was always the same, “Ely isn’t small, at least not compared to my hometown”. Sheridan is the heart of the Ruby Valley. There are no stoplights, the town has one grocery store, there is one gas station with four pumps and the high school student roster is approximately 100 kids. So no, Ely is not a small town for me.
Upon moving here I began looking for a job in the technical communications field, in which I hold a bachelors degree from Montana Tech. I attended several interviews at various local businesses, all of which to no avail. Then in June of 2014 I applied for the manager’s position with the White Pine Public Museum. The board members seemed quite impressed with my education and visitor service experience with the Montana Heritage Commission in Virginia City, Montana. Unfortunately I did not receive the position, at least not initially. Toward the end of July, I received a call from Bill Wilson, treasurer for the WPPM offering me the job of museum manager.
I’d never held a manager’s position before, but with my technical communications skills and experience running my own photography business, it wasn’t as overwhelming as I’d expected. The museum holds a treasure trove of local artifacts and antiques, many of which are items you may not see anywhere else. One item in particular is a Knights Templar Uniform belonging to William B. Ririe. Another item of a more gruesome nature is a petrified foot found in a mine shaft near Eureka, Nevada. The museum is also home to Lily, a 12,000 year old short faced cave bear. We also have an 1890’s model bicycle. Outside you will find a Kennecott caboose as well as an electric locomotive from Kennecott. There is also a schoolhouse that was moved here from Baker, Nevada. The Cherry Creek depot and the Gilbert Cabin also call the White Pine Public Museum home. Each building is fully furnished and open for the public to visit upon entry of the museum.
The museum is supported by donations from visitors, memberships and grant money from the government. We are a non-profit organization that relies upon the community members to support this wonderful small town museum. Every day I have visitors tell me how wonderful this museum is and that it is a gem to be treasured. If you have yet to visit the White Pine Public Museum, I highly encourage you to do so. You may find ties to your family here in the form of an old year book or maybe you’ll find a distant family members portrait hanging on the wall. Whatever it may be, you will never know what you’ll find inside the museum unless you stop in for a visit.
I believe Bob Marley said it best. ” Don’t forget your history nor your destiny”. My advice to you is take a step back in time and look at how history has shaped the very essence of who you are. Look at what you can learn from histories mistakes and triumphs, and move into the future knowing you can improve upon the events of the past and create your own destiny.