Bike wheels meet wheels of iron

Nevada Wandering Wheels, a local street motorcycle group here in Carson Valley, was at this holiday weekend's "Iron Horse Days: An Extravaganza of Fire, Steam and Old Iron" at the Nevada State Railroad Museum. As a side event, on the Fourth of July, on display were 14 motorcycles including two sidecars.

We first walked by the trains on the outside and took lots of photos. Next we went through the museum. Even though I have lived here nine years and have been visiting for 25 plus, I have never been to this museum.

Fact one, the V &T stands for Virginia and Truckee. Fact two, it was known as the "crookedest short line of all time." Wow. This museum has many famous, restored and finished engines and cars: Brass beauty "Inyo" Engine No. 22, the work horse No. 25 "Franktown" and the "Dayton" No. 18 just to name a few. Fact three, there were six man-made tunnels on the main line.

Shortly after the "Reno" No. 11 was built back in 1872, it was heading toward the longest tunnel, 650-feet long, and the engineer, John Bartholomew, didn't know there was a fire in the tunnel. During the big fire from October 1872, the Reno was still brand new. He was committed to the tunnel and when he discovered the fire inside, he hit the throttle full on and hoped to make it through. Luckily they did. Now, you'll have to go visit to look on the walls of the museum for more facts. But, it was sure interesting to me.

We took a ride on the train. An elderly gentleman in a wheel chair next to us named Roy, used to be an engineer on the Eureka & Palisades Railroad in Nevada for years. It was a fun ride and lasted about 25 minutes which included disconnecting from the engine, and re-hooking up the other end of the train to pull us backwards. We waved at all the on-lookers. I felt like we were in a parade as the train tooted and a bell was ringing.

The rest of our day we spent enjoying the other displays. Smokey Bear was there. My daughter had her picture taken with him and he gave her a plastic bag full of goodies. She thinks Smokey is the best. If I were in that costume, I would have blue ice packs around my torso; it was too hot of a day. D.A.R.E. representatives were there with games for the children to play and win prizes. They had a fishing game, a bean bag toss, tic-tac-toe. It was just a fun day. Plan to come out sometime and enjoy the wonderful museum we have here in our own back yard. You can learn a little history while you're there and ride the train. Chooo chooo!

n Lisa Welch is the weekly Johnson Lane Journal columnist. She can be reached at 267-9350.


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