From Twain to railroad - a short trip

"I should have been born in the 1850s" was the opening comment from Washoe County Commissioner Jim Galloway in a recent phone interview with Making Tracks. Approximately one week after attending his first Northern Nevada Railway Foundation meeting as a Washoe County representative, Jim was revealing, more clearly, this motivation for joining the V&T reconstruction project.

Jim's fascination with Nevada's history and writings of Mark Twain are only casually mentioned in his personal profile, which is dominated by references to his experience as a research scientist, an aerospace engineer, a small business defense contractor and (for the past 15 years) as a manufacturer of commercial aerial lifts.

What is not disclosed in this biographical sketch is his first encounter with Mark Twain, Nevada's adopted son and "pioneer of letters."

In his native California, at the age of 14, Jim did a literary sketch which earned him an entry in a regional essay contest. Each participant was asked to identify his favorite author and justify his choice. Jim selected Mark Twain. Described by William Dean Howells as "the Lincoln of our literature," Twain's insightful but often irreverent depiction of Nevada and the "Wild West" had tweaked Jim's curiosity, prompting him to read other books associated with the Silver State, such as "Silver Ghosts" and "Comstock Mining & Mines."

Two years after paying homage to Twain in an essay contest, Jim made his first pilgrimage to Virginia City, strolling along boardwalks once haunted by Twain himself.

In 1983, driven by a desire to call northern Nevada their home, Jim and his wife, Martha, incorporated their business in the Reno area. It wasn't until 1990, however, that they actually relocated to California in pursuit of what most transplants seek - a better way of life. For Jim, this has not been an entirely selfish pursuit, for while enjoying the advantages of living in Nevada, he has also worked to enhance the quality of life for others in the Truckee Meadows.

In addition to serving on the Washoe County Board of Commissioners as the representative from District One, Jim has tutored at local schools, has authored guest columns in the Reno Gazette-Journal and Sparks Tribune on matters of community interest, and has been active in small business organizations.

Given his affection for Nevada history and his involvement with public policy, it is not surprising that Jim supports the V&T reconstruction effort - one of the state's most exciting heritage tourism projects.

Like many project proponents, he is adamant about the need to develop a multi-faceted funding strategy that would include a significant contribution from those organizations and businesses that would benefit the most from a greater influx of out-of-state visitors.

im insists that the reconstruction of the V&T fits nicely into Washoe County's overall economic plan. "We need to market the Tahoe/Carson City-Virginia City/Reno triangle as an integrated whole - as a composite tourist destination offering visitors a chance to do more than just gamble."


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