March 4, 2005

Virginia & Truckee Progress

Some more good news is coming out of the Virginia & Truckee project. For those that aren’t familiar with it, the V&T was the historic railroad line that ran from Virginia City down to Carson City and Reno, and hauled most of the gold and silver pulled out of the Comstock Lode. The last train between Carson and VC ran in 1938, and soon after that the rails were pulled up. For the last few decades talk has been going around of rebuilding the line and running it as a tourist railroad. The sections of track in Virginia City itself have been rebuilt, all the way down to Gold Hill, just a few miles away. Bob Gray has been running his own tourist railroad along those tracks for almost 30 years now. But Gold Hill is a long way from Carson City, and talk has been going around forever about finishing the line all the way down the hill and into Carson.

And this week brings news of some good progress towards that goal. The Nevada Appeal reported that a construction bid has been awarded for the section of track that crosses the Overman Pit. The Overman Pit is a large open-pit mine that was dug square in the middle of the V&T’s right-of-way during the mid-twentieth century. The mine has long since dried up and been abandoned, but now there’s a huge hole in the ground where the railroad tracks used to run. A $3.8 million contract has been awarded to Granite Construction to cross that pit, although the article doesn’t say exactly how they’re going to get across. This article from a few years ago says there’s a narrow part of the pit that they can fill in, so I suppose that’s the way they’re going to go. Ground-breaking is supposed to be next month, so we’ll soon see what happens.

But, at any rate, once they get past the Pit, the rest of the right-of-way is largely undisturbed. It should be smooth sailing to lay track the rest of the way down. But, once the track is laid, what to run on it? Bob Gray currently has two steam locomotives in Virginia City, but they’ve both been undergoing massive rebuilding, so his tourist railroad is running on an ugly old diesel right now. And even when his steam engines get back up and running, I don’t know what kind of agreement he’ll have with the folks running the track down to Carson City. So the V&T Commission went out and bought their own steam locomotive, #18 from the McCloud Railroad near Mount Shasta. I’ve found a few pictures of #18, and it’s a pretty nice-looking engine. It sat mothballed for about 30 years, but it just unwent a restoration and came back on the rails in 2001. I think it’ll do well for the V&T, once they have some track for it to run on!

So, progress is finally being made. They have a locomotive, they’re going to cross the Pit, they have a bridge waiting to be installed so the tracks can cross Highway 50, all the pieces are coming together. One day soon we might just be riding the rails all the way up to VC, for the first time in nearly 70 years.

Keep an eye on the official website for more info, although they don’t seem to update it too often. And watch here for big news. I’m going to see if I can go to the groundbreaking next month up at the Overman Pit, and if I do, you know I’ll have something to post about it!

Update: The groundbreaking was on April 6, 2005. Look here for pictures of the event, as well as the Overman Pit!

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Comments (3)

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  1. Michael Hunter says:

    Very cool. Although the idea of a “ground breaking” for crossing a “pit” was amusing.

    Posted March 7, 2005 @ 7:02 pm
  2. Around Carson News and Updates says:

    V&T News

    The Nevada Appeal has more good news about the Virginia & Truckee Railroad, in two stories this weekend. In the first story, Becky Bosshart reports that the new tracks in Gold Hill, where construction just…

    Posted September 12, 2005 @ 11:32 pm
  3. Buddman says:

    Update: 11-17-05 The Overman pitt has been crossed and new track laid 1 mile South from Gold Hill. Work on that
    first track installation was completed sometime about 1 week before this date………

    Posted November 16, 2005 @ 11:06 pm

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