PHOTO/DAVE ROBERT: Volunteers and employees at the Nevada State Railroad Museum help unload a steam locomotive on June 27.

The public is invited to celebrate Independence Day at the Great Western Steam-Up in Carson City July 1 to July 4 at the Nevada State Railroad Museum, 2180 S. Carson St.

The event features several antique steam locomotives, train rides, food, live entertainment, steam-powered fire pumpers, tractors and automobiles on display, and “lost art” demonstrations like knife making and blacksmithing.

In celebration of the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Virginia & Truckee Railroad, the museum has corralled the largest reunion of existing V&T locomotives under steam including the famous Reno, No. 11, along with more than 10 locomotives from six historic Nevada railroads.  

Slideshow: Locomotive delivered to Nevada Railroad Museum

Dave Roberts, RN&R photo editor, was there when one of the antique locomotives was delivered to the museum by Lakeside Specialized Transport of Verdi. The locomotive was built by the Heisler Locomotive Works of Erie, Pennsylvania in December, 1916 for the Bluestone Mining and Smelting Company in Mason, (now Yerington). The engine has a two-truck design, with 36’ driving wheels, cylinders with 15” bore and 12” stroke, and weighed in at 94,000 pounds.

Some locomotives known as local favorites will be featured: the iconic Inyo, Virginia & Truckee No. 25, and the Glenbrook locomotive of the Carson & Tahoe Lumber & Fluming Co., once parked at the Nevada State Museum for years, now restored to working status by the railroad museum shop. Some of those locomotives have appeared in movies, including “Gettysberg.”

Early-bird tickets are $29 per adult and $10 per child per day. Prices will be higher at the door and may sell out before the event begins. Regular admission hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

Upgrades include VIP early admission tickets at $50 for admission two hours early for photographs of steam-up operations and a guided tour (limited to 50 guests per day).  A $75 VIP Special Excursion ticket entitles visitors to a 30-minute special train ride at noon daily. Tickets are also available for $150 to an exclusive V&T 150 dinner on July 2 in the restoration shop. (limited to 90 guests). Tickets and details are online or call the museum at (775) 687-6953.

The Virginia & Truckee Railroad was created in 1869 to haul lumber, ore and supplies for the Comstock Lode silver mines. At its height, the railroad’s route ran from Reno to Carson City, where the main line split into two branches. One route continued south to Minden and the other traveled east to Virginia City. The railroad was abandoned in 1950 after years of declining revenue. Much of the track was pulled up and sold, along with the remaining locomotives and cars.

Efforts to rebuild the line began in the 1970s. Today, the V&T is a privately-owned heritage railroad. The portion from Virginia City and Gold Hill has been rebuilt by private interests, and is operated separately from a portion from Gold Hill to Mound House, that was rebuilt with public funding and private donations.

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