Driving up to the Nevada Northern Railway on Wednesday, someone could’ve thought they had traveled back in time. Row after row of Chevrolet’s from the 1910’s through the 1950’s filled the parking lot and spilled over into the street. They looked suitably in place in front of a railroad museum that prides itself on history and restoration.
The 42 cars in total, and the 81 drivers and passengers that they belong to comprise just a fraction of the Vintage Chevrolet Club of America, who spent the week seeing the sights of Ely and its surroundings as part of the club’s 10th annual Southwest Fall Tour.
In the 10 years the club has been putting on tours around the Southwest United States, a tradition formed among the classic car owners to visit railroads and ride in their trains. During a visit to a train station in Phoenix, Ariz. last year, tour director Dean Echols was told that if his group has a love of locomotives, they have to visit Ely.
“Our group loves railroads. Ely’s railroad was recommended to us by some train folks in Arizona so shortly after I made a call to your Convention Center and Meg Rhoades set us up with an entire week long tour,” Echols said.
Driving in their shined and restored Chevrolets, the group arrived in town on Monday, congregating at the La Quinta for a pizza party and to
go over their itinerary. Outside of the railroad, the group also drove out to Great Basin National Park for a tour of the Lehman Caves and an astronomy presentation at the Ward Charcoal Ovens.
After the group’s train tour concluded early Wednesday afternoon, Echols said that he would “recommend it to anybody” and that he enjoyed it better than all the other railroads the group has traveled to over the last decade.
But for some members of the club the trip is about more than just the sights and the cars.
“I love these trips because they are like one big family reunion,” Carole Wells, a a member who made the trip to Ely from Hawaii, said.
A group of drivers wives sat at a table inside the La Quinta on Monday as the rest of the club members pulled into town. They shared Wells’ sentiment, sharing stories about how they all met through the club and have kept up with one another through social media over the years, despite being spread all across the country.
The Vintage Chevrolet Club of America was founded in 1961 and has members all across the country. According to one club member, over five hundred members are expected to show up to a meet up in Lake Tahoe next summer.