Column: railroad

"Recollection is the only paradise from which we cannot be turned out."

Jean Paul Richter

When Washoe County Commissioner Ted Short attended his first Northern Nevada Railway Foundation meeting in December of last year, he was a quiet but attentive observer. As the conversation whirled around him, one wonders whether he was impressed by the fervor of his new acquaintances or doubtful of their sanity.

Although Ted was appointed to the foundation's board of trustees by the commission as the county's alternate representative, I suspect he will become one of the foundation's most faithful meeting attendees.

Ted Fairchild Short is the proud member of a northern Nevada pioneer family. He was born at St. Mary's Hospital in Reno, educated in the Washoe County school system and studied for two years at the University of Nevada, Reno, graduating from San Jose State in 1953.

Ted began his career as a sales representative in northern California. In 1960, he became co-owner and general manager of Blue Haven Pools. He eventually divested himself of his California business interests and, in 1966, returned to Reno with his family.

In addition to being a licensed Nevada real estate broker since 1969, Ted, at one time, managed and was a stockbroker in the Mount Rose ski area. Today, he is "retired" and busier than ever. His past achievements as "a member of the leisure class" include helping to found the South Truckee Meadows General Improvement District, serving as an elected member of its advisory board until January 1995.

During his 14 years of service to STMGID, Ted held every office, including chairman. During his life as a citizen of the Truckee Meadows, he has also been active in the Virginia Foothills Property Owners' Association, the Cub Scouts, Little League and the Junior Ski Program. It was in his capacity as a member of the Washoe County Commission that he joined the foundation board.

Like most early generation northern Nevadans, Ted remembers the V&T with endearment and clarity. As a junior high school student, he and his fellow classmates rode the railroad into the Washoe Valley, disembarking to enjoy an afternoon at Bowers Mansion. Not unexpectedly, it is the people with childhood ties to the Virginia and Truckee Railroad who are the most passionate about its resurrection.

Ted is candid and unequivocal when he discusses the economic future of the Truckee Meadows. "We need to stop busing people into Reno just to play the nickel slots. We need to expose them to the region's other amenities." The lure of the V&T, as a historic, family-oriented attraction, would help to persuade these visitors to extend their stays and explore the diversity of the area.

Regional cooperation is the key to the success of the reconstruction effort. "The more people we get involved and excited about the project, the greater our chances of success," insists Ted, adding that the people responsible for tourism should be leading the way.

As we concluded our short discussion (no pun intended), Ted lamented the inability of Washoe County to help much financially, but did commit to explore the availability of funding through the Nevada Conservatory. I am confident that, as the newly elected chairman of the commission, Ted will work with his fellow commissioners to expand Washoe County's involvement in the V&T reconstruction effort.

By strengthening the bonds of regional support for a heritage tourism project of this kind, jurisdictional barriers that have over the years impeded the forging of new economic alliances in northern Nevada may one day be erased.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment