(This is the next in a series of columns on the effort to restore the historic Virginia & Truckee Railroad from Gold Hill to Carson City.)
"I'm delighted to offer my support of the Virginia & Truckee Railroad reconstruction project. The V&T Railroad is one of Nevada's greatest historic treasures. It serves as a reminder of the pioneering spirit that built our great state." With these recorded comments, Lt. Governor Lorraine Hunt introduced the Northern Nevada Railway Foundation's latest promotional video and computer CD - both were on display at the Governor's Economic Development Conference held earlier this month at the Reno Hilton.
By design or by a stroke of good luck, the booth assigned to the V&T reconstruction project occupied one of the most prominent locations at the conference.
A stone's throw away from the main entrance to the conference center, the V&T booth was nearly unavoidable as conference goers plied their way to the convention rooms to attend lectures on a variety of business-related topics.
The noises and images emerging from the video player perched on the corner of the V&T information table were like a Siren's song, luring people to the Foundation's display.
The strident pitch of a train's whistle and the rhythmic chugging of a steam engine weaving its way through the Carson River Canyon were an irresistible attraction. While some visitors to the booth merely inquired about the status of the project, others volunteered their help and offered creative recommendations.
A number of conference attendees were interested in acquiring copies of the Foundation's new CD, which among other things, contains an imaginary train ride through Brunswick Canyon and photographs highlighting specific points of interest along the right-of-way from Gold Hill to Carson City.
Also popular was the proposed V&T license plate which will be the subject of a bill in the 2001 session of the Nevada State Legislature. Although the Department of Motor Vehicles is not currently accepting applications for this plate, the Foundation is collecting preliminary reservation forms from prospective purchasers in order to gauge the general level of public interest.
So far, the response has been encouraging.
As one of 55 exhibitors at the Governor's Conference, the Foundation felt quite at home among some of the state's leading innovators.
Sharing the exhibit hall with the V&T Railroad were companies and institutions like Barrick Goldstrike Mines, Itronics Metallurgical, the Desert Space Station and the Desert Research Institute.
The variety of exhibitors participating in this year's conference is characteristic of the sort of diversity that will ultimately help distinguish Nevada as an innovator in economic development.