CARSON CITY — Officials are celebrating the rebuilding of a historic railroad line connecting Carson City and Virginia City. A black steam engine pulled into Carson City on Tuesday, marking a milestone in the 17-year campaign to rebuild the track.
On Aug. 14, a train will travel between the two cities for the first time since 1938, says Kevin Ray, project coordinator for the Nevada Commission for Reconstruction of the V&T Railway. The trip will take an hour.
In 1992, the Nevada Legislature initiated a $55 million reconstruction project, hoping to attract railroad buffs and tourists.
Carson City tourism officials say the railroad could draws tens of thousands of people and millions of dollars to Northern Nevada every year.
"It’s all about getting heads in beds," said Dwight Millard, chairman of the commission and the Carson City Convention and Visitors Bureau. "It will get people flying in and staying in rooms to ride the train, and it’ll serve as another attraction to draw conventions."
Millard said he expects 80,000 riders next year, with more than 100,000 in future years. The riders could bring more than $10 million to Northern Nevada each year in tourism and gambling revenue, according to the commission’s Web site.
The runs that start next month will transport riders along a temporary 12.8-mile track between Virginia City and the Eastgate Siding Depot on Flint Drive in Carson City.
The final track is expected to go to a depot a little closer to the center of Carson, near Drako Way, Millard said. Completing the final four-mile segment could take $15 million and two years, he said.
Miners originally used the track in the 1800s to transport silver ore from Virginia City to mill sites near Carson City, Ray said. The last train traveled between the two cities in 1938, said Commissioner John Tyson, who will be the engineer on the first train Aug. 14.
Ray said the rich history of the track is the key to the project.
"We’re rebuilding the past to ensure the future," he said.