Great Western Steam Up celebrates 150th anniversary of Virginia & Truckee

The Glenbrook at the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City

The Glenbrook at the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City
JT Humphrey | Special to The R-C


Around a quarter century before the Virginia & Truckee Railroad was extended south to Minden, another rail line was operating in Douglas County.

Two locomotives operated by the Carson & Tahoe Lumber & Fluming Co. transported logs from the lumber mill at Glenbrook to Spooner Summit where they took a flume ride down to the Carson City lumber yards.

Both the Tahoe and the Glenbrook are on display at this weekend’s Great Western Steam Up at the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City.

While the celebration focuses on the celebration of the Virginia & Truckee’s 150th anniversary, the Tahoe and Glenbrook will be back together for the same event for the first time in decades.

That won’t be the only reunion featured at the museum through Independence Day.

For the Fourth of July celebration, the Nevada State Railroad Museum collaborated with nearly a dozen rail museums and historical societies from around the West for artifacts from the era of steam-powered locomotion, including the V&T engine Genoa.

“We wanted it to be a kinetic experience, so everything there is operating. It’s not a typical museum experience where everything is what we call ‘stuffed and mounted.’ A lot of this is working artifacts, so you can hear it, smell it, taste it and feel it," said Todd Moore, president of the Friends of the Nevada State Railroad Museum, the event’s primary sponsor. “That means steam locomotives that are operational will be under power.”

A steam-powered printing press will be operating. Kids can get their hands dirty by panning for gold.

Built in the 1860s to haul freight and silver-laced ore from the mines of Virginia City to the mills along the Carson River, the V&T soon expanded and at its peak in the 1870s, it was running 45 trains a day and earning $100,000 in profits a month.

The rail line arrived in the new town of Minden in 1907.

By the 1930s, the silver boom had ended and much of the V&T rolling stock was sold to Hollywood for use in the film industry.

A three-volley shotgun salute and a bugler playing taps played out the Virginia & Truckee Railroad Engine No. 27 in Minden on May 31, 1950.

Five-dozen passengers packed the last trip, according to The Record-Courier as Carson Valley said farewell to the railroad, which connected Minden to the rest of the world for just over 40 years.

Unlike the earliest locomotives on the V&T, old No. 28 didn’t get a name, but it continues to be on display at the museum.

"It’s going to be cool,” said Nevada State Railroad Museum Director Dan Thielen. “You don’t have to be a hard-core rail fan to get engaged in this.”

Proceeds will benefit the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City. Event information, schedules, ticket sales and more are available at


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