"I think we really threw something very precious away."
- Earl Casazza on the loss of the V&T Railroad
At the September meeting of the Northern Nevada Railway Foundation Board of Trustees, the usual agenda items were discussed, including reports from each of the foundation's committees. What distinguished this meeting from the normal monthly gatherings was the presence of the board's newest member, Earl Casazza.
Unlike newly appointed trustees of the past, Earl was anything but reserved. The quiet and tentative demeanor that characterizes most fledgling appointees was conspicuously absent in this feisty septuagenarian. He makes no apologies for his candor, and his no-nonsense attitude is indeed refreshing.
Earl is a third-generation member of a pioneer Italian family that settled in the Truckee Meadows in 1871. A World War II veteran, upon his discharge from the Army he decided to pursue a career in trucking rather than continue ranching with his family. In 1945, he bought his first two trucks and over a 45-year period, his company grew to become the largest heavy equipment and petroleum transporter of its kind in the state of Nevada.
As a native and lifelong resident of Reno, Earl has continually shown an active interest in all aspects of the community. His interest in the Virginia & Truckee Railroad was most certainly the outgrowth of its visible presence in his life as a youth.
"I remember the train in 1931," Earl recounts. "It ran through my family's farm." In the interest of preserving its legacy, Earl assisted with the creation of the Nevada State Railroad Museum and has now consented to help the Northern Nevada Railway Foundation reestablish the V&T between Gold Hill and Carson City, a task that he aptly describes as a "tough job."
His disenchantment with the lack of foresight exhibited by our predecessors is obvious.
"When they shut the railroad down, if our good politicians had been wide awake, they could have had it for nothing. I think we really threw something very precious away. We really did."
The sentiment mirrors the feelings of another prominent Washoe County resident, Sen. Bill Raggio, who, during the hearings on AB 663 earlier this year, also lamented the premature demise of the V&T when he insisted that the tearing up of the railroad tracks between Carson City and Reno was one of the worst mistakes ever made in our region.
With the appointment of representatives from the commissions in both Washoe and Douglas counties to the foundation board, the regional aspect of the reconstruction project is growing. With the emergence of the One Region - One Vision concept, the momentum to support projects that will enhance the appeal of northern Nevada as a destination for the discriminating visitor looking for a diverse, family-oriented vacation experience, has never been greater.