In the late 1800s a group of Mormon settlers led by George Morley arrived in the Steptoe Valley and established a farming community at its southern end. Named Georgetown for its founder (or, alternately, for a church official of the time - there is controversy here), the colony prospered, building a small church, a schoolhouse, and other structures that supported the Western habit of self-sufficiency.
The very water that gave the ranch life, however, proved too abundant for the settlers, often flooding their expanding enterprise. So they moved on, many into the Lund and Preston areas.
Arthur L. Smith, President of Ely Light and Power, took control of the ranch in the early 1900s, and it was he who ordered the barn built - generic in its uses, individual in design and character.
All tin painted red exterior with white wooden trim, galvanized metal roof, and some windows with real glass, the two-story structure housed teams of draft horses, Smith's prized Hereford stock, calves, dairy cows, and stores of hay and grain. Unusual trapezoidal framing sturdied the loft over a partially-cemented floor. Feed slid from the loft through interior chutes or was tossed outside from the "cannonball" sliding windows. Smith had the barn wired for lighting and modest electrical needs. It sat amid a sea of corrals; the big red barn beyond Georgetown's red gate.
Eventually the Ranch passed into Ely City's ownership, sections of its valuable flood plain leased for compatible purposes. The old Georgetown buildings were dismantled, removed, or succumbed to fire. Today just the slaughterhouse (east of #5 golf tees) remains in addition to the barn, which finds itself ( at nearly 100 years of age) surrounded by colorful golfers instead of cowboys. Course equipment now fills the dark interiors.
We encourage visitors to photograph and/or sketch the Barn from different perspectives in every season. It stands as an icon of White Pine County's history and the special landscape that is the Great Basin and Range.
Located just south of Ely, Nevada, the Ward Charcoal Ovens are associated with the silver mining ghost town of Ward. They were built in 1876 by itinerant Italian masons known as carbonari. Charcoal prepared in the ovens was used in the nearby silver smelters.