An appeal went out Wednesday morning to area businesses: Help us build the Virginia & Truckee Railway. When completed it will take tourists from Carson City to Virginia City on a steam locomotive. And those tourists will spend millions a year to ride Northern Nevada's money train.
Hoping to garner support from Carson City's business elite, railway project coordinator Kevin Ray said the railway will be completed and bringing in those tourist dollars by 2009.
"Or, as we like to say, prior to the Ormsby House or the freeway being completed," he said, which was followed by laughter from members of the Northern Nevada Development Authority at Wednesday's breakfast meeting.
Ray said the railway will generate $8 million in nongaming revenue and $10 million in gaming revenue, which will benefit the retail and hospitality industries.
A goal of the Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the V&T Railway, which will own the track and rolling stock, is to fund 60 percent of the project from public coffers. The remaining 40 percent will come from private benefactors.
Ray flipped his PowerPoint presentation to a picture of the $420,000 McCloud No. 18 locomotive, which the commission financed.
"This is very exciting because this sells the experience," he said about the steam engine.
Ray said people can help the project by buying a V&T coin or license plate. About $40,000 has been raised for the commission from the sale of V&T license plates. For the third consecutive year, the state will issue collectible coins. The 1-ounce silver V&T coin will be minted Oct. 28 with the Reno engine on the face. The coins have raised $45,000.
"The $4 million from the (Carson City Convention and Visitors Bureau) brought us to where we're at with the Overman Pit," Ray said. "It's almost filled and in 30 days we'll have two miles done."
He said the V&T has inspired generous donations and passionate responses.
"And a person even wants to move here to become the official magician on the V&T," Ray said.
Development authority members peppered Ray with questions about the railway, asking if he thinks it'll ever connect to Dayton or Tahoe. His reply: The Legislature only commissioned the board to do 18 miles, so that's all he's thinking about.
"I think that upon completion it'll be a great tourist draw," said development authority member Phil White, who is marketing manager for Lumos and Associates.
- Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at email@example.com or 881-1212.