Living history exhibit explains the ‘why’ behind construction of V&T
May 26, 2005
Listen closely for the cry of silver in the steam whistle this weekend at the Nevada State Railroad Museum.
A vein of silver ore will run through the three days of activities celebrating the museum’s 25th anniversary.
Today you can crush ore at an old-fashioned stamp mill, ride the handcar to the assayer’s office and stamp a chocolate coin at the coin press.
The living history exhibit is a miniaturized version of the reasons behind the birth of the Virginia & Truckee Railroad and by extension, the birth of the Nevada State Railroad Museum.
Probably few can tell the story of the dawn of the V&T better than Henry Yerington, vice president and superintendent of the V&T. Yerington, portrayed by James Saylor, of Bishop, Calif., will be on hand today through Monday to share the story of the birth of the V&T and help visitors understand the need for the train.
Yerington said the birth of the V&T was a matter of economics.
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“You have to remember that before (the V&T) everything was hauled by horse and wagon or mule and oxen,” he said.
Hauling supplies to the mines of the Comstock Lode cost $3.50 a ton.
“Rates dropped to $2 a ton with the completion of the railroad and we were able to move more goods much faster.”
Moving goods was important to Yerington and his partners at the Bank of California, D.O. Mills and William Sharon.
“The bank crowd owned a lot of the mines, mills and lumber yards,” Yerington said. “Mr. Sharon came up with the idea. Mr. Mills asked Engineer Isaac James ‘Can you run a railroad from Virginia City to the mills on the Carson River?’ James said ‘Yes.’ and Mills said, ‘Then do so at once’.”
A silver spike was driven into the track at the Carson City depot Sept. 28, 1869, the line from Carson City to Reno was finished in September 1872. The final run of the V&T was May 31, 1950. It is no accident the state’s railroad museum opened 30 years later on that date, said Rich Reitnauer, sales and promotions manager for the museum.
Train rides will be available all weekend, the Railroading and Mining on the Comstock exhibit will be open today.
On Sunday, the museum will celebrate its Silver Anniversary with Tales from the Emigrant Trail by Fred Horlacher and a reading of the governor’s Silver Anniversary Proclamation. Stop by Monday for steam train rides.
– Contact editor Kelli Du Fresne at email@example.com or 881-1261.
Where: Nevada State Railroad Museum, 2180 S. Carson St.
Admission: $4 adults, $3 seniors, children 18 and under free
Hours: 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
• Steam Train Rides
When: Today, Sunday and Monday
Cost: $5 adults, $4 seniors, children 6-11 $3, children 5 and under free
What: Railroading and Mining on the Comstock living history exhibit
When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
What: Tales from the Emigrant Trail and reading of the Silver Anniversary Proclamation
When: 2:30-4 p.m.
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