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Wednesday, June 12, 2024 at 8:06 PM

McGill, Nevada

The town of McGill is located in the Steptoe Valley 11 miles north of Ely. McGill is a former "company town" established to house workers at a copper reduction facility (smelter). As with many other towns in rural Nevada, the fortunes of McGill are linked to the ups and downs of the metal-mining industry.

Copper deposits in the area were discovered in the 1870s, but remained unexploited until new technologies led to a copper boom in 1903. A railroad was built from the mining area located west of Ely into Steptoe Valley, then north to a connection with the Southern Pacific Railroad line. A copper reduction plant was built on a bench overlooking the McGill Ranch in Steptoe Valley, and the first trainload of copper ore arrived at the plant in 1908.

The town of McGill was built in phases, starting in 1908 and continuing through the 1930s, with housing for reduction plant workers and their families, a commercial area to provide goods and services, and various public/recreational facilities including a swimming pool, ball field, clubhouse, and parks, The Kennecott Copper Company exercised control over many aspects of town life. Neighborhoods were established for the workers, and their families, who came from countries throughout the world to work at the smelter. Kennecott provided recreational opportunities for workers and their families, maintained houses and grounds, and even determined the number and type of private commercial enterprises allowed. Baseball was the big activity of the day, and many famous athletes of the time played ball on the local field.

Starting in the 19550a, changing company policies led to Kennecott's sale of employee housing to another company, which subsequently gave current occupants the opportunity to buy their own houses. After the 1950, workable copper reserves become depleted and costs of production increased, leading to the closing of the smelting operation in 1983.

The population of McGill reached a high of 3,017 people in 1930, then fell through the later part of the 20th century as mine production diminished. Today visitors can enjoy a day at the McGill Warm Springs Pool, turn back the clock at the McGill Drugstore, or belly up to the bar at the historic McGill Club.

              Link to businesses in McGill:


Pony Express Gas Mart
Schellraiser Music Festival
Bradley's Bestway
McGill Ruth Sewer & Water GID
McGill Historical Drug Store

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