Train ride commemorates 50 years since V&T service ends

A list of dignitaries headed by Gov. Kenny and first lady Dema Guinn will observe the 50th anniversary of the final run of the Virginia & Truckee Railroad tonight in Virginia City with a train ride.

The invitation-only event leaves the V&T Depot for the 2-1/2 mile trip to Gold Hill at 7 p.m. Hosted by the Northern Nevada Railway Foundation, it commemorates the final run of the railroad 50 years ago between Reno, Carson City, and Minden.

The Foundation is a nonprofit organization formed in 1996 by the State's Tri-County Commission to raise the money needed to rebuild the railroad.

To date $8.7 million has been raised from public and private sources for this project, which carries a $22 million pricetag.

Built between 1869 and 1872, the V&T played a pivotal role at the height of the Comstock's silver boom, hauling ore to the mills located along the Carson River between Dayton and Carson City, as well as the millions of board-feet of lumber from the Sierra used to shore up the soft earth between veins of silver.

Forty-five trains a day arrived and departed Virginia City, and during the next 70 years carried millions of dollars in gold and silver ore from the Comstock mines.

But profits sagged as the mines played out, and the last train left the Comstock during the depression when the line developed cash flow problems. In an effort to remain viable, the line built a spur to Minden in the early 1900's. The line was supposed to extend south to the Los Angeles area, but the plan never materialized.

On April 20 , 1950, the U.S. Interstate Commerce Commission declared that rail traffic was insufficient to support continued operation of the line, and the V&T made its final run on May 31 of that year between Reno, Carson City and Minden.

The line experienced a rebirth in 1975 when owner Bob Gray reopened the rails between Virginia City and Gold Hill along the original right of way, and the momentum continued when in 1993 the Legislature created the Tri-County Commission to find the means to reconstruct the railroad.

In keeping with reconstruction plans, the railroad would be extended an additional 17 miles to Deer Run Road in Carson City.


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