GOLD HILL - Massive earth movers will begin cutting through a mountain near the Overman Pit here today, not to excavate rich minerals, but to prepare the way for a tourist railway economic analysts expect will haul $16 million annually into the area.
Sierra Rentals transported the heavy equipment from Reno to Gold Hill on Monday to complete the Virginia & Truckee Railway's span across the pit, a mar on the land from earlier mining days.
Traffic through Gold Hill slowed Monday as the Nevada Highway Patrol directed the lumbering trucks up the two-lane road, onto a haul road owned by Plum Mining and then toward the excavation site.
The Nevada Department of Transportation awarded a $3.8 million bid to Granite Construction to reconstruct 1.3 miles of V&T Railway across the Overman Pit.
John O'Day, Granite Construction project manager, said about 20 workers will be on site during the peak construction time. He said the project should be completed by the end of August.
O'Day stood on a dirt rise overlooking the pit, which he described as a "small Grand Canyon," with his back to a small mountain. About 260,000 cubic yards of dirt and rock from the mountain will be used to fill in a portion of the pit and level the land. Another 50,000 cubic yards will be hauled in to fill the 1,000-foot-wide area.
"That mountain over there will be, in essence, moved into that hole," he said.
Railroad subcontractor RailWorks Track Systems will then lay the rails along the path of the old V&T, which operated from 1869 to 1950. RailWorks will refurbish track saved from the Reno retrack project.
Wood stakes marked with pink ties, which represent the center of the tracks, show where the iron rails will be hammered into place. The tracks will run west of the Belcher mine shaft and around the Masonic and Catholic cemeteries. The Masonic cemetery looks like it is slipping into the Overman Pit. O'Day said they will construct a buttress to help keep it from eroding.
The rocky terrain is marked by civilization, and not just from the mining. Horse manure is piled near the pit, it will soon be compacted under 140 feet of dirt fill. A red and beige print couch was also dumped near the mine shaft. Its cushions were strewn about the area.
"It'll look a lot different," O'Day said about the site. "This will all be leveled out and filled in."
Granite Construction has also worked on the downtown Virginia City paving project and the Virginia City truck route.
n Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at email@example.com or 881-1212.
Ready to work
Heavy equipment that rumbled through Carson City on its way to the Overman Pit:
• Caterpillar D10 bulldozer
• John Deere 800 excavator
• Caterpillar 825 compactor
• A Komatsu 375 bulldozer will arrive Wednesday
Heavy equipment will be moved up to the site until next week.