End of an era

In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the V&T Railroad's last day of operation, Kel Aiken, a master of pictorial comparisons, provides us with another retrospective glance at the Queen of the Shortlines with the help of Jim Sasso, a frequent Making Tracks contributor:

The day dawned bright and clear crowned by a canopy of blue sky. Despite the picture-perfect weather, it was a dark day for the railroad once christened Nevada's Richest Short Line. On May 31, 1950, Engine No. 27 arrived in Carson City on its final trip from Reno.

The last train consisted of Railway Post Office car No. 24, baggage car No. 32, passenger coach No. 28 and caboose No. 24. In Ted Wurm's photo (as reproduced in "Virginia & Truckee, The Bonanza Road" by Mallory Hope Farrell), looking west toward the Carson City depot and Carson Street, are passengers and possibly some nostalgia seekers crowding about the train.

In the foreground there is a section crew waiting for the train to clear the switch so that the sad task of dismantlement can begin. This day marked the end of an era. Over 80 years of railroading were drawing to a close.

The present day snapshot taken just last week (courtesy of Kel Aiken's Rephotographic Study of the V&T Railroad), offers a stark contrast to the vintage photo of 1950.

The streets are nearly deserted and a quiet calm pervades the scene. The ribbons of rail and barren earth have given way to asphalt streets and concrete walkways.

The V&T depot still remains but the passengers have vanished into history along with the railroad that once carried them past the majestic mountains and verdant valleys of Northern Nevada.

Next week: A continuation of our series of reprinted articles from the Sacramento Bee.


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