PARISH PROFILE: A Tale of Two Very, Very Tiny Greek Orthodox Communities

This profile was published in the February 2008 Orthodox Observer, and can be read in full online - Page 17 -


St. Alexios Chapel, Ely, Nevada - founded 1941 - 6 or 7 members
St. Barbary Chapel, McGill, Nevada - founded 1907 - 7 or 8 members

Noteworthy:  Tiniest Greek Orthodox "communities" just about anywhere.  McGill is where Greek Orthodox presence in Nevada began.


Excerpts from this article:

"Perhaps the word "communities" might be stretching it quite a bit, considering that the entire Greek Orthodox population of this remote area in east-central Nevada could fit in one long pew of a typical church.

"Many years ago, however, the communities of Ely and McGill were vibrant parishes with several hundred members. . . . 

"The two communities are the easternmost of the San Francisco Metropolis.

"The town is at the eastern end of the segment of the route that crosses Nevada from Carson City and was dubbed by Life magazine several decades ago as "The Loneliest Road in America."

"What possessed so many Greeks to come here"  Copper.

"For most of the 20th century, Ely was home to several copper mining companies, with the Kennecott mine being the most famous and the Liberty Pit the largest open pit mine in the world until the crash of the copper market in the mid-1970s.

"McGill was the site of the smelter, where the copper was extracted from the ore through a chemical and heating process after it's trucked in from the mines. . . 

"According to George Chachas of Ely, St. Alexios parish council president and a former mayor, labor brokers representing the mining companies traveled to Greece and other countries in the early 1900s to recruit workers. . . 

"After the miners had settled in the area, several became entrepreneurs and opened businesses.  Some opened bakeries and bars. ...