McGill, Nevada : Information & Photographs
Located twelve miles north of Ely on US Highway 93, McGill is a small town that has a population of around 1000 people. Like many Nevada towns, McGill sprung to life as a mining town. Originally, McGill was a company owned town, built by the Nevada Consolidation Copper Company to house its employees in 1908.
McGill’s peak economic period occurred during the early 1910’s, when the town – then a company owned town – employed over 2000 people at the smelter. But like other mining towns, the people left when the smelter shut down in the 1970’s. Today, much of McGill stands empty - particularly the area around the old smelter.
Yet, McGill is still a real town, not a ghost town. Although much of the main street of McGill sits empty, more than 1000 people still live here. The growth of nearby Ely has helped keep McGill “on the map,” so to speak. And with the increased mining activity that is now occurring in White Pine County, not to mention the rather high cost of housing in Ely, McGill is likely poised to maintain or possibly increase its population in the years ahead.
There are two attractions worth visiting in McGill. The first attractions are the old buildings that now sit empty at and around the old Smelter site. Although the smelter site is fenced off, a visitor can still see many older and historic buildings.
The second attraction in McGill is the rather unique McGill Drug Store Museum. This museum is a drug store that served as the primary focal point in McGill during its boom period. The drug store also had an old-fashioned soda fountain. The drug store itself closed in 1979. While the story of this drugstore might not vary significantly from many other older drugstores across the USA, what makes this one unique is that the store didn’t sell its inventory when it closed. Nor was the store gutted or destroyed while it sat empty. In the 1990’s, ownership of the store was transferred to the White Pine County Museum in order for it to be preserved and restored. Today, visitors to the museum will find a drug store the “way it used to be,” complete with a functioning soda fountain and 30+ year old products still on display. The museum is free to visit, too.
McGill has a nice location. The Success Loop Scenic Drive begins just a few miles north of town. The tall mountains of the Schell Creek Range begin just behind town. There is also fishing at nearby Bassett Lake, as well as wildlife viewing in the open fields of the Steptoe Valley outside of town.
Benchmark Nevada Road & Recreation Atlas : This topographic map book shows ALL roads in Nevada. This book is a mandatory requirement if you'll be venturing off the main highways shown on the tourist map. Additionally, this book shows many historical sites, points of interest and recreation areas.
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Where to Stay in McGill
There is no lodging in McGill, but nearby Ely has plenty of hotels.