Multi-Million Dollar Project Connects Virginia City and Carson City
Public Rides Saturdays Through October
Railfest Weekend Kicks-Off Celebration
July 30, 2009 (Carson City, Nev.) – For the first time in more than 70 years, a magnificent steam train will make its way between Carson City and Virginia City on the historic Virginia & Truckee Railroad (www.VTRailway.com), Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 15-16, 2009. The rumble of wheels – steel on steel, the melodic tempo of a train highballing down the track, the steam whistle cutting through the air – all signal the near completion of a project 17 years in the making.
An inaugural run features a ceremonial ride for VIPs, dignitaries and politicians along a 12.8-mile reconstructed portion of the 16.7-mile original route between Nevada’s sister cities, Friday, Aug. 14.
Beginning Saturday, August 15 and Sunday, August 16 and every consecutive Saturday through Oct. 31, the public can ride the rails. Trains leave Carson City from Eastgate Siding on Flint Drive at 10 a.m. arriving in Virginia City at 11:30 a.m. Then depart the F Street station in Virginia City at 3:30 p.m. to return to Carson City at 4:30 p.m. Roundtrip tickets are $48 per adult, $36 for children 12 and under and $40 for seniors over 65. One way tickets will be available for $29 adults, $23 for children and $25 for seniors. To reserve tickets, call 800-NEVADA-1 or visit https://www.dynamicticketsolutions.com/cccvb/.
The 60-90-minute train rides will include scenic vistas of the “old west” countryside, views of the Carson River, two tunnels and occasional sightings of wild stallions. Commemorative plaques with slices of historic track will be available to riders for $20 during the opening weekend with proceeds benefitting the Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the V&T Railway.
The V&T Railway, the richest short-line in American history, originally operated during the raucous silver strike era of the infamous Comstock Lode from 1869 to 1938. When completed in 2011, the reconstructed track traces all 16.7 miles of the 19th century route between Carson City and Virginia City and is expected to serve as a major tourism attraction to the area. Train rides will be packaged with lodging stays and award-winning restaurants to link the area’s fabled past to the present and shape its promising future as a prominent vacation destination. The Carson City Convention & Visitors Bureau and Carson City have pledged $21 million and Storey County has contributed $2 million to the $54.9 million project.
The 1860’s V&T was privately funded and featured the finest appointments with the most luxurious interiors money could buy, including gold-leaf and brass-adorned locomotives to wooden coaches. The line brought entrepreneurs, gamblers and aristocrats to the Comstock. Along with these characters, the train carried the Mother Lode’s gold and silver to Carson City and lumber from Lake Tahoe to build the mines in Virginia City.
The timing of the V&T route re-opening appropriately coincides with Railfest, an annual celebration of the V& T Railway observed that weekend in both cities with a plethora of railroad activities.
In addition to the V&T’s newly re-opened route, steam engines in both towns will also offer shorter rides along existing track. In Virginia City where the V&T has run for more than 30 years under the ownership of the Gray family, the popular 5-mile route to Gold Hill will also be in full operation. In Carson City, “steam-ups” will take visitors along the 1-mile route that surrounds the Nevada State Railroad Museum, adjacent to Highway 50 downtown.
The Gray family began to reconstruct the tracks between Virginia City and Gold Hill in 1972. Since then, they have run trains daily between the two cities, keeping the V&T alive. Without their help, the reconstruction project between Virginia City and Carson City would not have been possible, http://VirginiaTruckee.com/.
Silver Line Express tickets, a city pass for savings on train and trolley rides, merchant discounts and local attractions around Virginia City and Gold Hill, are available at visitors center, 86 South C St. Various options are available, including trolley tours, admission to the Ponderosa Mine, Historic Radio Museum, the Mark Twain Museum at the Territorial Enterprise, The Way It Was Museum, the Fourth Ward School, Chollar Mine and Comstock Gold Mill. A 1914 Pullman car and a Railway President’s 1907 gentlemen’s car will be on display. Other activities include historic railroad memorabilia displays, free face painting, a balloon magician, bounce house, and children’s games. Call 775-847-4386 or visit www.VisitVirginiaCityNV.com.
As part of Railfest weekend in Carson City, the Nevada State Railroad Museum will feature live music at the Depot. In conjunction with KNPB-TV and the Carson City Arts & Culture Coalition, the museum will screen The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, a film by award-winning director Ken Burns, outdoors on the side of the Jacobsen Interpretive Center at the museum at 8:30 p.m. Saturday night. Call 775-687-6953 or visit www.VisitCarsonCity.com. Allllll aboard!