Big day for V&T project finally on the calendar

Nevada's political elite and railway supporters will gather at the Nevada State Railroad Museum on Jan. 3 to celebrate the completion of the first phase of the Virginia & Truckee Railway reconstruction.

According to railroad custom, a silver spike symbolizes completion. In the case of the V&T, it's the completion of $6.7 million phase from the Gold Hill depot to American Flat.

Peter Barton, director of the railroad museum, said no one wanted to be standing around the tracks in Gold Hill in January.

"The museum will provide the event with a nice backdrop," he said.

The museum has the Inyo steam locomotive, built in 1875, the No. 27 and the No. 25 built in 1905. The No. 18 Dayton is on loan to the recently opened Virginia City Comstock History Center. The museum also displays box cars, passenger coaches and flat cars from the railroad.

The first phase of the tourist track running about 19 miles between Virginia City and Carson City was completed in September, but the state commission in charge of the reconstruction decided to hold off the ceremony until Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., was available to attend.

Reid helped secure $10 million attached to the federal transportation bill for the V&T. The Senate minority leader and Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt will speak at the event.

Hunt helped secure a $1 million grant from the Nevada Commission on Tourism. A new one-eighth-cent sales tax from Carson City will raise $15 million for the project. The entire project is expected to cost up to $40 million.

The V&T originated in 1870 as the supply line to the silver strike in Virginia City. It transported passengers, property, goods and lumber to support the mines. The Virginia City line was abandoned in 1938 because of the decline in the mining industry. The entire railroad was pulled up in 1950.

The seven-part project is scheduled to be completed in December 2009. The Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the V&T Railway purchased a $420,000 steam engine to ride the rails in 2010.

The board purchased five 1923 Harriman Suburban Coaches for $23,500 to run on the V&T. It could cost up to $50,000 to renovate them.

-- Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at or 881-1212.


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