Jersey Lil came to Carson City and the V&T Railway on Friday, flaunting her faded-yet-bounteous charms.
Also known as No. 644, Jersey Lil is a Pullman passenger railroad car that joins the stock of the Virginia & Truckee Railroad Company’s stable for the run between Virginia City and the Eastgate Station at the northeast edge of Carson City. The V&T’s upcoming tourist season begins on Memorial Day weekend.
It was at the Eastgate station Friday that Tom Gray, who runs the V&T, and a crew unloaded the passenger car and undercarriage with wheels hauled here from Arizona by two trucks. Gray pointed out the passenger car coach served as the trailer on truck wheels for the trip, while the undercarriage and car wheels came on a flatbed pulled by another truck.
“This is the easy part,” Gray said, but the morning’s work didn’t look easy. It entailed using a Link-Belt crane from Connolly Crane Service to lift the coach above the V&T track and off the truck wheels. The wheels were manually pulled away as a V&T engine slipped first one undercarriage and set of wheels, then another, under each end of the coach.
Both the semitrailers that hauled in the coach and undercarriage parts were Peterbilt, the type used for long-distance hauling of major loads.
Gray said the Pullman car was 80 feet long and was featured in a movie along with Paul Newman and Ava Gardner, plus a well-known supporting cast. It was the 1972 western “The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean.”
The car was made for the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, Gray said. It later went to the Apache Railway, on to the White Mountain Scenic Railway, and then to the Yuma Valley Railway in Arizona. He said he purchased it from that railway, which didn’t own the track upon which it ran and lost the chance to operate there any longer.
Gray, whose father, Bob, at 91 still works and has been involved with the V&T for years as well, said the V&T will use the passenger car coach for the Polar Express run on the V&T tracks, as well as other runs of the scenic and tourist-oriented train steeped in 19th century lore.
The V&T served Virginia City and the region when the community was a mining mecca, and has been revived now that the town is a tourist attraction.