Windless from Egan Canyon. May have been used in a water well or mine shaft.

By Allister Townson-Muse 

The White Pine Public Museum will be the location for the City of Ely’s annual recycling contest for the month of April.  When I initially learned of the recycling contest, I was rather uncertain as to how repurposing the old into new, could be incorporated into a museum article. But, after a leisurely Saturday afternoon, strolling through the museum exhibits, I discovered numerous repurposed items.

Suspended from the ceiling is an old well windless that came from Egan Canyon. It’s unclear if the windless was used in a water well or mine shaft. The winding mechanism was hand carved from a gnarled tree and chisel marks can be seen along the entire surface. The smoothness of the handle attests to it being used every day.

Also on display, is an antique doll collection which holds several dolls made from hand-me-down clothing, rags and flour sacks and others that were hand carved from pieces of wood. Besides paper dolls, there are also dolls made with hair from a horse’s tail.

Scattered throughout the museum is evidence of the ingenuity of our pioneering forefathers. Just using their creativity, they took old tree limbs and made them into tools to aid in their survival. They repurposed packing crates to protect their valuables and entertained children with toys created from straw and rags. Truly, “Necessity is the Mother of Invention.”

The museum board is working hard to bring entertaining and educational events to our community and the Recycling Contest is just the start of what the Museum Board has planned. Children and adults are encouraged to take old cans, wire, metal, wood or any junk they can find, and using their imagination turn that junk into a work of art. This is an opportunity to help the environment, be creative and support the museum. Entries for the contest must be turned in to the museum between March 25th and March 31st and will be judged on April 21st.  All entries will be on display for the entire month of April. There is no size limit to the contest entries, but should be able to pass through the entrance door. The only real limit is your imagination. For additional information, contact Mayor VanCamp at 296-1524. The City of Ely is provide $300 in prize money.


The “Life” magazines will be on display for the remainder of the year, with many issues for sale in the gift shop. Framed advertisements and stories will be available also.

Upcoming events for May include the Cookie Jar Contest and “Muffins with Mum,” in honor of Mother’s Day. Mums, who pop-in to the museum with their families will be free during the holiday weekend, May 13-14. June’s event will be the Boots Miller film about Ely and the surrounding communities.

The White Pine County Museum has new hours, 10:00am to 4:00pm seven days a week. Admission is $3 per person and children under 5 are free. If you are interested in becoming a museum member or would like to volunteer, come to the museum or contact Connie at 775-229-4710.

Spend an afternoon with your family and see what’s new at the White Pine Public Museum.