Restored railroad offers trip back in time

Editor’s Note: Nevada 150 is a yearlong series highlighting the people, places and things that make up the history of the state.


The sky was clear in the capital city on a bright Saturday morning at the train depot. A group of Old West cowboy re-enactors entertained passengers waiting to board the train.

Of all the ways there are to celebrate Nevada’s history in the run-up to the state’s 150th birthday, few feel more like a time machine than a ride along the Comstock on the Virginia &Truckee Railroad.

You could see and hear the excitement build among children and adults alike as passengers boarded the locomotive dating to the turn of the 20th century. The train cars were completely rebuilt, allowing riders to settle into refurbished Hale &Kilburn wicker walkover seats like the ones Mark Twain might have sat in all those years ago.

Then the enormous, rumbling V&T steam locomotive pulled the passenger cars out of the station and into the heart of Nevada’s best-known mining district, passing along the way through old mining towns such as Gold Hill, where old wooden mine supports still weather in the elements.

Among the passengers this day were the Williamses and the Colliers, a two-family group on vacation from Oregon. They heard about the train online and decided to ride it for the first time.

“We were looking for what activities to do in the area and saw the Virginia &Truckee Railroad had a steam train and thought that would be perfect for my son, who is crazy about trains,” Heather Collier said. “I think that it is great that they were able to preserve a train like this.”

“It’s a beautiful project,” said Neil Duncan, a conductor for the V&T Railroad.

And it has its very own source of state support.

In 2001, the Legislature created the Nevada Commission to Reconstruct the V&T Railroad and infused the project with the proceeds from the sale of special V&T license plates — something of an ironic twist since it was competition from automobiles that sank the original railroad.

Starting with its launch in 1868, the V&T served as a major economic factor in the growth and development of western Nevada and eastern California. It connected Carson City and Virginia City to the transcontinental railroad in Reno, allowing for the large-scale delivery of ore, lumber, and other goods needed to fuel Nevada’s first big mining boom.

It operated for 80 years, outlasting many of the mines it served, before it finally succumbed to increasing competition from highway traffic. The line to Virginia City was abandoned in 1938, and the entire railroad was shut down in 1950.

Two decades later, it was a Sacramento, Calif., man named Robert Gray who decided to resurrect the V&T, this time as a tourist attraction. In 1976, the first train ran between Virginia City and Gold Hill, but it would take another 33 years for the route to be extended. In 2009, the steam train, which runs on recycled motor oil, made its first run from Virginia City to the Carson depot.

Today, passengers can ride the rails from May through October, when the train runs between Virginia City and Gold Hill seven times a day between 10:30 a.m. and 4:50 p.m. The longer trip, 90 minutes one way from Carson City to Virginia City, is available only on select Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Annual ridership has steadily increased over the past three years from less than 20,000 in 2011 to more than 23,000 last year. Officials believe they are on track to beat that number this year.

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Whip Villarreal at or 775-687-3901. Find him on Twitter: @WhipVillarreal.

Downtown Summerlin hosts its annual Festival of Arts
People crowd to Downtown Summerlin for the 23rd annual Summerlin Festival of Arts in Las Vegas, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County educators debate alternative grading systems
Spring Valley High School principal Tam Larnerd, Spring Valley High School IB coordinator Tony Gebbia and retired high school teacher Joyce O'Day discuss alternative grading systems. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Grandparents on the fire that killed three family members
Charles and Doris Smith talk about the night an apartment fire took the lives of three of their family members. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
New York artist Bobby Jacobs donated a sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden
Bobby Jacobs, an artist from upstate New York, has spent much of the past year creating a sculpture of two separate angel wings. He donated the sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Weather will cool slightly through the end of the week
The weather will cool slightly through the end of the week., but highs are still expected to be slightly above normal for this year. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mayor announces new public-private partnership
Mayor Carolyn Goodman announced the creation of the Mayor’s Fund for Las Vegas LIFE, a public-private partnership that will allocate money to the city’s neediest.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Fall fairytale gets cozy at Bellagio Conservatory
Bellagio Conservatory introduces its fall-themed garden titled "Falling Asleep." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
What the house that Ted Binion died in looks like today
Casino heir Ted Binion died in this Las Vegas home in 1998. Current home owner Jane Popple spent over $600,000 to restore and modernize the home. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Rescue Mission employees terminated
Don James, a former employee for the Las Vegas Rescue Mission, talks about the day his team was terminated. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Cupcakes at Freed's Bakery
Freed's Bakery will have Raiders-themed cupcakes available in store and for order during football season. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s fans say goodbye to Cashman Field
Las Vegas 51s fans said goodbye to Cashman Field in Las Vegas, Monday September, 3, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s owner Don Logan's last weekend at Cashman Field
Don Logan, owner of the Las Vegas 51s, gives a tour of Cashman Field before the team's final weekend using the field. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Metro Asst. Sheriff Brett Zimmerman on Aug. 8 officer-involved shooting
Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman met with media Monday to discuss the details of the 14th officer-involved shooting of the year. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program where community and business leaders joined to welcome students back with an inspirational welcome. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Star Trek fans on show’s enduring popularity
Star Trek fans at the Star Trek Convention 2018 talk about why they think the show has stayed popular across the years Thursday, August 2, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Nonprofit provides clothing for homeless
Sydney Grover of Can You Spare A Story?, talks about how she founded the non-profit organization. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like