A retrospective on the past year in railroads

"Who reflects too much will accomplish little."

Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller

It is customary at the end of a year to reflect on the events of the previous 12 months. Retrospection is not only cathartic, it is a useful way to chart a future course by revisiting and refining past goals and objectives. In deference to von Shiller's admonishment, I will temper my reminiscing with a discussion of what the new year may hold in store for the reconstruction of the V & T.

In January of this year, the Northern Nevada Railway Foundation announced the creation of its Internet site (www.steamtrain.org). Subsequent to its development, the V & T site was selected as the winner in The Communicator Awards 1999 Print Media competition. Specifically, it was the recipient of the Award of Distinction which is bestowed upon projects that exceed industry standards in communicating a message or an idea.

After the first of the year, it is the Foundation's intention to upgrade the site to include an assemblage of past, present and future photographs of locations along the V & T right-of-way. With the mere click of a mouse, cyberspace travelers can venture into the past, linger in the present, or propel themselves into the future as they traverse imaginary stretches of track between Gold Hill and Carson City.

In January of this year, legislative funding for the V & T project was in serious jeopardy. Responding to an anticipated shortfall in revenues, Governor Guinn announced his intention to recommend to the legislature that the state rescind its conditional $5 million commitment to the Tricounty Railway Commission. Disbelief and frustration among V & T proponents followed the startling announcement. However, with the sympathy and support of a number of key legislators, a compromise was crafted and funding was restored in the form of an amendment authorizing the future issuance of $5 million worth of general obligation bonds. We are hopeful, that when the conditions prerequisite to the issuance of the bonds have been met, there will be an appetite among legislators to waive the present repayment obligation so that the project will not be unnecessarily burdened with debt.

Nineteen-ninety-nine was also a pivotal year with respect to the technical work being performed in connection with the Overman Pit project. Despite projected cost overruns, physical constraints imposed by historical sites along the right-of-way, the absence of suitable fill material within the immediate vicinity, the presence of potential underground hazards, and less than definitive land title and mining claim records, the Tricounty Railway Commission took decisive action on a number of critical issues. It is still NDOT's intention to begin construction on the Overman Pit portion of the project in the year 2000. The actual crossing of the Pit may be preceded by the laying of approximately 1300 lineal feet of mainline track by the owner of the V & T shortline, from the end of the existing line at Gold Hill to a point near the Belcher Shaft. Both NDOT and the railroad company are awaiting the results of additional topographical mapping.

Throughout the year, the Northern Nevada Railway Foundation has seen its ranks swell with additions to its Board of trustees and advisors. New members recruited in 1999 included Kole Dunn, the designer of the V & T Web site, Lyon County Commissioner Chet Hillyard, Earl Casazza, former owner of Casazza Trucking, Douglas County Commissioner Don Miner and Washoe County Commissioners Jim Galloway and Ted Short. Each of these recruits brought a new dimension to the Foundation Board helping it broaden its perspective and further expand its sphere of influence.

Nineteen-ninety-nine was also a year when V & T advocates ventured out of their cloistered meeting rooms and into the public eye. In April, the first V & T Summit was held at the Ormsby House in Carson City. The event was used as an opportunity for reconstruction proponents to educate attendees about the status of the railroad project and solicit feedback from the people in attendance. It is anticipated that another similar summit will be in Washoe County after the first of the year.

Although it required substantial commitment from its volunteers and trustees, the Northern Nevada Railway Foundation's participation in Railfair '99 was a valuable investment of both time and energy. Not only did the Foundation recruit new dues paying members, it was also able to establish new and valuable out-of-state contacts. Perhaps, more importantly, participation in Railfair helped to reinforce the conviction of V & T proponents that the reconstruction of the V & T Railroad is an important and achievable goal.


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