McGill is a small town bordering US 93, 12 miles north of Ely. Named for William N. McGill who sold part of his ranch property for the Steptoe Valley Mining and Smelter Company (Nevada Consolidated Copper Co.) (Later Kennecott).
The smelter and reduction plant was built during 1906 to 1908 to process copper ore that was mined west of Ely. Water was readily available from Duck Creek. Tailings were deposited in a pond on land owned by the Cumberland & Ely.
The McGill ranch Post Office had been established in 1891. After the mill was built, the little settlement was briefly known as Smelter before being changed to McGill. McGill was a “company town” that was strictly managed by the copper company. Houses of ill repute and gambling dens were prohibited. The town was segregated by nationality and the center of town was reserved for only those who had reached high status jobs within the mining company. Residents lived in neighborhoods segregated according to their national origin.
The concentration mill, other buildings and trestle which covered an area of nine acres caught fire and burned to the ground in July 1922. By 1930, the mill was rebuilt and handled 14,000 tons of copper ore daily.
McGill has remained populated and has a business center. The local swimming hole is just north of the town. The historical and intact McGill Drugstore Museum and soda fountain is a step into the past.