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Locomotive sitting up on a hill across the old Comstock Gold Mill

Everybody loves trains and even the graveyards that are left behind of twisted metal leaving a historical imprint in time as passengers once enjoyed the luxury of a good meal with pretty scenery around every turn. Today this rail yard symbolized the very few remnants left behind when the trains were in full operation. Tunnel #4 just outside of the rail yard symbolizes the last tunnel as you approached Virginia City NV and the first tunnel as you approached the 1,600' descent into the Carson Valley.

At one time Tunnel Number 4 was a symbol of the strength and resilience that surrounded the Comstock Lode as Fort Homestead and its American Flag overlooked all of Gold Canyon. Gold Canyon was an around the clock operation full of many immigrant miners who came here to strike it rich. They also fear attacks from the natives as the local Paiute's were not thrilled of all the traffic that came to there lands from this Gold Rush.

Today some of the trains on site are mere shells some of the trains are used by Virginia Cities homeless population as they are found sleeping in some of the empty cars. If this was any other city it would be dangerous but this semi ghost town is a place of history, ghost and many happy residents. I first visited the train yard in March of 2011 when I relocated to the area and told my investigators someday were going to do all of this historical town which includes its trains which played a major role in the development of the town. As further down the canyon the old V&T traversed off the Virginia Range and into the Carson River Canyon's Mills Of Empire City to have ore exported there for processing!

The trains were very relevant as they were able to transport ore to some of the local processing mills along the Carson River and in Silver City which is much further below. One of the mills the trails ended at its doorstep was American Flats which was one of the largest concrete mills in the United States. It also had transcontinental connectors for Reno, Minden and Truckee Ca. Thus it opened up new doorways for those in Carson City the state capital of NV which had many well prominent politicians in its time. A politician could take the train up to the opera house in Virginia City watch a show and be home in the evening for dinner as this was a short line.

The train would run for about 80 years transporting its lumber from the valley and supplies for some of the local mining towns in the area. Eventually the tracks and railroad would be removed as the automobile along with its major highways were growing with popularity. The tracks would be removed meanwhile some of the tunnels were collapsed it appeared that the train would never make a comeback till the 1970's when a man by the name of Robert Gray had a dream!

You can read further about the history of this train line further below on this page. The rail yard currently does maintenance work on this line in hopes of continuing to restore some of these relics left behind during its boom. Today only its ghost of the past who once road in these cars and walked these tracks may be all that remains today to symbolize that the V&T Railroad once was a major means of transportation back when the commodity was Gold and Silver.
Copyright By
Lord Rick aka AngelOfThyNight
Author, Producer, Pranormal Investigator and Talk Show Host





Tunnel #4


The Virginia & Truckee: Nevada’s Bonanza Railroad
By Stephen E. Drew

Nevada’s most famous short line is the Virginia & Truckee Railroad which connected Reno with Carson City, Virginia City, and Minden. Operating for 80 years, the V&T was Nevada’s Bonanza Railroad as it hauled valuable Comstock ore to quartz reduction mills located at Silver City and along the Carson River. Today visitors to Virginia City enjoy a ride over nearly three miles of the original line amidst encouraging prospects that rails my soon once again reach the outskirts of Carson City. The name “Virginia & Truckee” is recognized the world over: V&T locomotives and cars have appeared in scores of feature-length motion pictures and the historic equipment is preserved and exhibited in museums in Nevada, California, and as far away as Strasburg, Pennsylvania. The V&T enjoys an international constituency.

The Virginia & Truckee Railroad Company was organized in Nevada on March 5, 1868. The objective was to connect Comstock ore producing mines with quartz reduction mills and, on the return trip, to bring in needed lumber, mining timbers and cord wood for fuel. Surveyed by local surveyor Isaac E. James, the 21-mile standard gauge line was completed on January 29, 1870 between Carson and Virginia City. A 31-mile extension north from Carson City through Franktown, Washoe City, and Steamboat Springs connected the Comstock with transcontinental rail service at Reno in August of 1872.

Primarily controlled by William Ralston, Darius O. Mills and William Sharon on behalf of the Union Mill & Mining Company and the Bank of California, the Virginia & Truckee was efficiently managed by General Superintendent Henry M. Yerington and immediately became a paying success. The completion of the V&T permitted the further development of Comstock mines by allowing the economical reduction of lower grade ores through reduced freight rates to the mills and by increasing the essential supply of lumber, mining timbers, and cord wood for fuel. In addition, well-appointed passenger service to Carson and Virginia City was a by-product of the short line’s connection with transcontinental rails at Reno.

For nearly twenty years the V&T was a major political and economic factor in the growth and development of Western Nevada and Eastern California. During the late 1870s, V&T stockholders divided handsome dividends in excess of $100,000 monthly. Additional financial returns provided the capital for nearly 40 other V&T-affiliated concerns. The 300-mile Carson & Colorado Railroad was built from Mound House, Nevada, to Keeler, California, and was operated by principals of the V&T from 1880 to 1900. V&T dividends funded the establishment of Hawthorne, Nevada, the Hawthorne Water Works, lumbering operations at Lake Tahoe and Southern Nevada, the Columbus Wagon Road to Bodie, a large soda plant at Keeler, and dozens of mining ventures at Aurora, Bodie, Hawthorne, Candelaria, Belleville, Columbus, and Cerro Gordo.

Headquartered at Carson City, a massive complex of railroad shops were erected under the direction of Abraham Curry. The shops were proclaimed by the Central Pacific to be equal to or better than their great locomotive and car building facilities at Sacramento. From these shops poured nearly every conceivable type of essential machinery for communities throughout Nevada, Eastern California, and even Mexico. For decades the Virginia & Truckee was hailed as the wealthiest short line railroad in the world!

With revenues derived from the twentieth century Tonopah boom, a new Virginia & Truckee Railway Company was incorporated in Nevada on June 24, 1905 to purchase the predecessor company and to construct a 15-mile branch south from Carson City to Minden. This branch offered transportation facilities to a growing agricultural and grazing district and resulted in substantial new revenue to the railway until such time as a surface highway was constructed between Reno, Carson City, and Minden in the years 1921-1922. Known today as U.S. Highway 395, the concrete highway completely paralleled the V&T between Reno and Minden and ultimately was the cause of the railway’s red ink operations beginning in 1923. Prior to that time, the V&T was the only efficient means of transportation for freight and passengers between these communities.

During the period 1932-1937, Ogden L. Mills, one of the major stockholders, loaned the railway nearly $95,000 to balance operating deficits until the line was forced to enter voluntary Federal receivership on April 27, 1938. Solid corporate status was not established again until January 18, 1946, under the financial direction of former V&T Auditor Gordon A. Sampson. Starting in 1937, the railroad began selling capital assets to meet monthly working capital obligations. The disappearance of Comstock traffic and the caving of several wood-lined tunnels ushered in the closing of the Carson-Virginia City line in 1938. The rails were removed and sold in late 1941. The resulting $52,000 revenue was again applied as working capital on routine maintenance which had been deferred for over a decade. Additional working capital also came from selling old V&T locomotives and cars to Hollywood studios for use in motion pictures.

For the twenty year period from 1928-1947, the V&T had a net income deficit of $440,605.75 by U.S. Interstate Commerce Commission accounting practices. As early as 1932, officials of the V&T seriously considered total abandonment of the railway in the face of annually mounting loses.

After 80 years of continuous operation, the Virginia & Truckee finally succumbed to the increasing competition of highway truck traffic. The Bonanza short line’s last official revenue train operated on May 31, 1950 between Reno, Carson City, and Minden. Following the local sale of the railway’s structures and properties, the rails between Reno and Minden were finally removed and the famous V&T became but a legend.

(Stephen Drew has been researching the V&T for more than four decades. For the past 30 years, he has been Chief Curator of the California State Railroad Museum in Old Sacramento.)

For further reading:

Beebe, Lucius and Charles Clegg. Virginia & Truckee: A Story of Virginia City and Comstock Times. Carson City, Nevada: Nevada State Railroad Museum, 1991.Wurm, Ted. Rebirth of the Virginia & Truckee R.R.: Amazing Revival of a Steam Railroad. Ross, California: May-Murdock Publications, 1992.Wurm, Ted and Harre Demoro. The Silver Short Line: A History of the Virginia & Truckee Railroad. Glendale, California: Trans-Anglo Books, 1983.

May 2007

The History of the Crookedest Short Line in America, the Virginia and Truckee Railroad.

by Don Bush

Copyright 1992


"The Grosh brothers struck it rich in Washoe!

"There's a strike in the Utah Territory!"

And so it was in 1859 a sample of silver ore taken to Grass Valley California assayed as high grade. Thousands rushed east over the Sierras to the Comstock Lode and what was to become Virginia City. The ponderous granite ledge of gold and silver - named after local miner Henry "Pancake" Comstock - was one of the largest strikes ever on the American Continent. Battles over claims lead to tough mine laws still in effect today. Virginia City grew into the most opulent and exciting city in the West. The Comstock Lode, the richest place on earth, became known for its well tailored millionaires, it's opera singers, and most important, the richest and the crookedest railroad of all time, the Virginia And Truckee Railroad.

Miners and businessmen alike rushed to the shadows of Sun Mountain for their chance at the hidden riches. By 1863 the population of Virginia City was more than 20,000. The booming mining town attracted a sudden explosion of greedy, easy-money opportunists. Of these, no one was quicker to catch the monetary fox than William Sharon. Because of his financial dead aim in California, Sharon was picked in 1864 to open the Virginia City branch of the Bank of California.

Sharon had a sharp eye for financial opportunities and an insatiable lust for power. He pursued the acquisition of every mine and mill on the Comstock Lode. His plan was simple - extend cheap credit at half the going interest rate, then foreclose at the first opportunity.

Within two years Sharon, Ralston and the Bank of California had virtually every mine and mill on the Comstock under their control. But they wanted more.
The Central Pacific portion of the transcontinental Railroad was nearing the summit of the Sierra Nevadas and would soon reach The Truckee Meadows at Lake's Crossing, the future site of Reno. A rail connection from Virginia City to the Central Pacific would drastically cut the cost of hauling freight to the busy mining town. If the Bank of California could be the first to build such a Railroad they could take control of the freight business just as they had the mining and milling industries.

But Sharon and the Bank were not the first with the idea of a Railroad to Virginia City. The first charter for a Railroad was granted in November of 1861 under the name Virginia, Carson and Truckee Railroad Company. This road was to go through Eagle Valley north of Carson, through Washoe Valley and then up the Truckee River to the California border, with a spur line running down to the Capitol at Carson City. But unable to get financing, the owners had yet to lay a foot of track.

Another charter was granted in December of 1862, to the Virginia And Truckee Railroad Company, but no track had been laid under this charter either.

In May of 1867 Sharon grabbed the loose ball and incorporated the Virginia and Truckee Railroad Company with a route running from Virginia City, north along Lousetown road to the present site of Lockwood, 10 miles east of Reno, where it would connect with the Central Pacific.

Factions in Storey County and Ormsby County offered Sharon $500,000 to run the Railroad through Carson City and up Washoe Valley to connect to the Central Pacific at Lake's Crossing.

Not one to laugh at half a million dollars with no strings attached, Sharon re-charted the Railroad accordingly in March of 1868. White haired Henry M. Yerington was appointed superintendent of the new V & T. Sharon's timing was perfect as in May of that same year the Central Pacific laid the transcontinental track into Lakes Crossing, 25 miles north of Carson City.

Grading of the V & T right-of-way began in February of 1869. By September, the route was ready for rail. Henry Yerington drove a silver spike into the first rail on September 28. December saw the first train from Carson City reach Gold Hill. In January of 1870, the first official passenger train pulled into Virginia City.

The V & T route began in Virginia City, curved its way a half mile south to Gold Hill, across the famous Crown Point trestle, through more curves to American Flat, down to Moundhouse and through Brunswick Canyon into Carson City. The route made enough turns in the trip to go around in a circle seventeen times. The V & T easily earned its name as "The Crookedest Railroad In The World."
The turns were tight, many of them were more than the standard 14 degrees. The sharpest turn was an unheard of 19 degrees going into Gold Hill. The 16 mile trip took 21 miles of track. Iron rails were imported from England. Six tunnels were built on the main line, all timbered against loose rock and zinc-lined to prevent fires.

The Railroad purchased three engines from Booth Union Iron works in San Francisco and two slightly larger engines from Baldwin of Philadelphia. All five engines were 2-6-0 type Moguls. The Booth locomotives, numbers 1, 2, and 3 were named Lyon, Ormsby, and Storey. Engines 4 and 5, the Baldwin machines, were named after the terminal cities of Virginia and Carson.

But in 1870, as was so typical of the furious ups and downs of the mining industry, the gold and silver of the Comstock Lode appeared to be running out. Production was down. Prices of mine shares plummeted. The future of the newly completed Railroad did not look bright.

With low prices for mine shares, mines were easy to buy. Sharon and the Bank of California lost control of the Crown Point mine to John P. Jones and Alvinza Hayward. Soon after, John Mackay and James Fair, two mine superintendents, secretly bought the Hale and Norcross Mine.

Sharon, though frustrated at his loss of two major mines, continued the building of the V & T. In 1873, the entire run was open, from Lakes Crossing to Virginia City.

Then Jone's and Hayward's Crown Point mine hit pay dirt and Sharon was vindicated. Mine production increased steadily as did the profits of the Railroad. The Silver short line stayed busy and profitable hauling wood to the mines, ore to the mills, and consumer goods to the still thriving city.

In May of 1873, a huge body of high grade ore was discovered in Mackay and Fair's Consolidated Virginia Mine. The discovery was the largest ever on the Comstock and became known as "The Big Bonanza." John Mackay and the other owners of the Consolidated Virginia pocketed a million dollars a month in profit. The V & T was getting rich, too, making four hundred thousand dollars a month hauling freight and passengers. In today's dollars, the V & T profit was nearly ten million dollars a month.

Soon the busy V & T was operating 116 ore cars, two hundred platform cars, and 361 freight cars hauling as much as 40,000 tons of freight each month. By 1874 the V & T had 18 locomotives in service and was running 40 trains a day.

Feeder lines were build to Yerington's wood flume at the south of Kings Canyon near Carson City and to the lumber yards at Clear Creek Canyon. Thousands of cords of wood passed through the V & T every month. A typical Comstock mine could burn upward of 25 cords a day for the operation of their hoisting works and the huge Cornish water pumps needed to keep the mines free of water.

The V&T was flourishing but the face of the Comstock was changing. The owners of the Consolidated Virginia Mine and its "Big Bonanza," John Mackay, James Fair, James Flood and William O'Brien, became known as the Bonanza Kings. With their success in picking producing mines, they soon took control of the Comstock, wrenching financial power from Sharon and his associates at the Bank of California. They opened the Nevada Bank and soon locked Sharon and the Bank of California out of the financing business altogether.

The Bank of California, overburdened with bad loans on barren mines, capsized. William Ralston, manager of the bank, was fired and found dead in San Francisco Bay soon after, possibly a victim of suicide. William Sharon, still the gritty survivor, went on to become the Senator from Nevada in the Congress of the United States.

Like Sharon, the V & T continued on in spite of the odds. Reconstruction of Virginia City after the devastating fire of 1875 kept the Railroad profitable even though the mines were beginning to run out.
By 1879 it looked like the "Mighty Bonanza" was dying. The V & T hauled only 52,000 tons of ore that year, one fifth the amount of 1876. It was the beginning of hard times for the famous Silver Short Line.

Determined to keep the Railroad business alive, V & T Superintendent Yerington and the other owners of the V & T began the construction in 1880 of the narrow gauge Carson and Colorado Railroad to run from the V & T intersection at Moundhouse down into Bodie and Aurora, bustling mining towns to the south. But Bodie and Aurora soon went from boom to bust and the branch line didn't help the V & T at all.

Production in the mines of the Comstock was down, too. In 1886 the branch line to Silver City was abandoned. In 1890 the V & T stopped paying dividends. In 1901 many miles of spur track were removed and sold as scrap to help with expenses and to avoid the new tax on track.

Ore production took a slight rise in the early 1900s and boosted the V & T for a short-lived res-pit (respite) from its otherwise continual decline. Jim Butler discovered gold in Tonapah. The Tonapah Railroad was built to connect to the C & C. Soon the freight business on the narrow gauge Carson and Colorado kept the V & T busy, even though the freight had to be transferred by hand from the narrow gauge C & C to the standard gauge V & T.

In 1904, the C & C was sold to Southern Pacific. They offered to buy the V & T, too,but the price was too high. To cut the expense of manual transfer of freight, Southern Pacific standardized the C&C rails from Moundhouse to Tonapah. Soon after they ran a line north to Hazen and connected the C & C , now called the Nevada California Railroad, directly to the main line of the Central Pacific. The V & T was bypassed completely and lost all the freight from Tonapah and the mining communities to the south.

Faced with competition from the trucking industry and the depletion of the rich Comstock ore, the V & T fought frantically to stay in business. In a last ditch effort to remain afloat, tracks were ran down to Minden from Carson City and in August of 1906 the V & T opened its lines to the agricultural and cattle freight from Douglas County, south of Carson City.

In 1910, Superintendent Henry Yerington and President/owner Darius Ogden Mills, two stalwarts of the V & T, both died. The spirit of the old V & T was nearly gone. Mills' grandson, Ogden Livingston Mills, took over the Railroad and personally picked up the deficit the train was generating. But competing against improved trucks and highways proved impossible. By 1917 the majority of the ore cars had been scrapped and many of the other cars sold. The Railroad continued to decline as the automobile and truck industry expanded.

In 1922, the United Comstock Mining Company built a large cyanide mill at American Flat that still stands today, and once again the V & T experienced a short rejuvenation. But the mines in Virginia City were depleted and in 1924 the straight passenger service to Virginia City was down graded to mixed trains after 55 years of continual service. In 1926 the American Flat Mill closed and left the V & T again running on the deep and generous pockets of its owner, Ogden Mills. In 1935 The Crown Point trestle in Gold Hill, the famous symbol of the Comstock, was torn down to mine the rich ore beneath.
Soon after that, Ogden Mills, the generous owner and steadfast Railroad fan who had been supporting the V & T, also died. The V & T was placed in receivership. In 1937 there was a short spurt of money as Hollywood began buying old V & T rolling stock to use in the movies. But it wasn't enough.

In 1938 the Board of Directors of the Virginia and Truckee Railroad announced its intention to close down the Railroad. They began selling off equipment as antiques. June 4 of 1938 marked the last freight train to Virginia City. By then the trips to Virginia City were excursion trains for Railroad buffs to the Comstock Lode. In 1941 the tracks to Virginia City were finally torn out.

The V & T was barely surviving on the revenues it earned as a feeder line for the Central Pacific. In 1945 Engine #11, the "Reno" in all her brass trimmed glory, was sold to M-G-M in Hollywood. Now, with only three working engines, ten wheelers, #25, #26, and #27, the V & T was a diminutive reflection of its once glorious self.

The Board of Directors thought to delay the inevitable by modernizing the Railroad. Inquiries were made into the purchase of a diesel engine and the costs of upgrading the track. The price of the 90 ton engine required to pull the Lakeview grade was $106,000. Estimates for track and roadbed repair ranged from $400,000 to $3.1 million. The task proved impossible. In January 1949 the Virginia and Truckee Railroad applied for permission to abandon its entire line. The petition was approved in February 1950. The official end of the V & T was to be May 31, 1950.

On May 1, as though in protest to the death of the Railroad, Engine #26, while cooling in the roundhouse in Reno, mysteriously burned. It was a fitting end to the great short line.
The last official trip of the V & T, held with great pomp and circumstance, ran May 11, 1950 and marked the end to a majestic and noble era of Railroad history.

Now dead except in the movies, the V & T slept the sleep of the long forgotten.

Then in 1976, Robert Gray - a businessman and railroad buff from California - seeing the potential in the rebirth of this historic monument to man's ingenuity - brought the V & T back to life. Old right-of-ways were purchased, steam trains were renovated and the V & T entered a new life with vigor and enthusiasm as an excursion train for history and railroad fans visiting Virginia City and the once mighty Comstock Lode.

The 1990s find the Virginia & Truckee Railroad running from the "F" Street Station west of St. Mary's Church in Virginia City down to Gold Hill and the Gold Hill Depot, newly renovated by the Comstock Restoration Foundation. Possible plans for the future include extending the track past St. Mary's to the old freight depot to the north and down to Moundhouse and Carson City to the south.
The Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City boasts many finely restored original V&T engines and cars. Engine #22, The brass beauty "Inyo," , - work horse #25, - and #18, "Dayton," all reside in the beautiful facility in Nevada's Capital.

Engine #12, the "Genoa" - engine #13, the "Empire" - and engine #21, the "J.W. Bowker," all fascinate thousands of visitors a year as main attractions at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento California.

Probably the most famous V & T engine was Engine #11, the "Reno" - also known as the "Brass Betsy" or the "Brass Bound Baldwin Bantam." The "Reno" made its first movie in 1937 and is still doing so in Tucson, Arizona.

Risen like the Phoenix Bird, born again from the ashes of the past, the V & T steams on, into a bright future, once again the Crookedest Short Line in the World.

The Original Virginia & Truckee Railroad

Following the discovery of rich silver and gold deposits in Virginia City, it soon became apparent that something beside freight wagons was needed to carry the ore from the mines to the mills along the Carson River for refining. Additionally, a better transportation system was needed to bring lumber from the Lake Tahoe region to Virginia City, where it could be used to timber the underground mines and feed the mining furnaces

To address these needs, William Sharon and his Bank of California partners incorporated the Virginia and Truckee Railroad Company in March 1868. The plan was to build the railroad between Virginia City and the Carson River (near present day Mound House) and extend it later to Carson City and Reno.

Work began in February 1869 and by early the following year regular train service was established between Virginia City and Carson City. By 1872, the line had been extended to Reno, where it intersected with the Central Pacific Railroad, the transcontinental railroad that had been completed in 1869.

In the early to mid-1870s, Virginia City’s mines were so productive that from 30 to 45 trains operated daily on the 55-mile-long railroad, which, because of its winding route became known as the “Very Crooked and Terribly Rough Railroad.” Additionally, in 1880 work began on a second railroad, the Carson & Colorado Railroad, which operated between Mound House, where it connected with the V & T, to mining districts to the south and southeast such as Candelaria and Aurora.

The V & T’s fortunes began to wane with the decline of mining in the Virginia City area in the 1880s. By the turn of the century, the railroad had shifted its focus from transporting ore to carrying tourists and other passengers. In 1906, the V & T was extended south of Carson City to Minden.

The railroad’s financial situation worsened after 1924, when mining had virtually stopped in Virginia City. The railroad struggled to stay in business during the next 26 years (with the unprofitable Virginia City to Mound House spur shut down in 1938), losing money in each succeeding year. In 1950, the line was formally abandoned and the railroad’s historic rolling stock was sold to Paramount Studios.

Rebuilding a Legend

The rebirth of the V & T Railroad began in 1972 when Robert Gray, a railroad enthusiast from Sacramento,California, acquired a portion of the V & T right of way and began reconstructing the historic route. He laid the first tie in 1974 and started running his train for tourists three years later.

Despite setbacks, such as collapsed tunnels, steep grades, and aging equipment, Gray, his staff, and many volunteers have persevered. A few years ago, the V & T line had extended a few miles down the hill from Virginia City when it reached the entrance to the original Tunnel 3. Gray and his workers tried to reconstruct the tunnel but found it impossible to do so safely. The railroad was forced to extend the track around the hill, avoiding the tunnel. The result, however, is an even more spectacular trip as the train slowly sweeps around the side of a hill, offering a panoramic view of Gold Hill and the surrounding environs.

Presently, the train runs from a small depot on F Street, just south of the St. Mary's in the Mountains Catholic Church, to the Gold Hill Depot (a 35-minute ride that covers a little under six miles). During the leisurely ride, travelers are treated to an informative talk as the conductor relates anecdotes about the Comstock and points out places of historic interest along the way, including original mining head frames, mill sites and other buildings.

The Virginia and Truckee Railroad Company operates until from Memorial Day until the end of October.

Adults: Diesel $9.00, Steam $11.00
Children: 5-12 $4.50, under 5 Free
All Day Pass: $16.00

For more information call 775-847-0380.

Full Steam Ahead: Reconstruction of the V & T

In the early 1990s, V & T enthusiasts along with Storey County, Carson City, and state officials began studying the possibility of reconstructing the historic rail line between Virginia City and Carson City. A financial study was commissioned, which indicated that the railroad was feasible, and the non-profit Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the V & T Railway was created to raise money for the project, estimated to cost $25 million when completed.

During the next decade, the railroad project made slow progress as the commission acquired right-of-way easements and financial commitments. Starting in 2005, the project—pun intended—picked up steam. The Nevada Department of Transportation awarded a $3.8 million contract to extend the railroad south from Gold Hill. The contract included filling in a huge open pit mine called the Overman Pit, which had blocked previous efforts to lengthen the railroad (the pit had been dug after the railroad was abandoned). Funding for this was provided by a 2% increase in room tax by the CCCVB. Additionally, the commission purchased a 1914 Baldwin steam locomotive from a defunct Northern California tourist railroad for $420,000.

The Nevada Legislature provided $500,000 in additional funds to help keep the project going while the Department of Transportation donated a railroad bridge formerly used in Southern Nevada for a crossing over U.S. 50, once the rebuilt railroad reaches that point.

The Legislature also granted Carson City permission to raise its sales tax by one-eighth of a cent to fund a big portion of the remaining expenses. The CCCVB has also pledged an additional $100,000 annually for the next 20 years. 

The reconstructed railroad will closely follow the original railroad right-of-way between Virginia City and Carson City. It will incorporate the Virginia and Truckee Railroad Company’s 2.5 miles of existing track from Virginia City to the Gold Hill Depot. From there, it will cross the filled-in Overman Pit and continue through American Flat, a former mining mill district near Silver City, before reaching U.S. 50 near Mound House.

The route crosses the highway and enters the Carson River Canyon area, where it winds along the banks of the river, offering spectacular views. It will conclude its 21-mile route in Carson City. Railroad officials predict that first leg of the expanded rail line, Gold Hill to U.S. 50, could be completed by 2009.


The Train Now Runs To Truckee California

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