Although this year's Nevada Day parade may be a distant memory for many, for railroad enthusiasts and reconstruction advocates it was a memorable moment in time.
Not only did the theme of this year's celebration commemorate the importance of railroading in the history of the Silver State, the parade was graced once more by the presence of V & T locomotive 18, the Dayton. Constructed between 1873 and 1874, the Dayton, along with the Columbus, was one of the heaviest locomotives in existence prior to 1902. Used to haul the local mixed trains, the Dayton also saw frequent snowplow service in the winter months. It has appeared in a number of major Hollywood films and today is the oldest remaining locomotive constructed by the Central Pacific shops in Sacramento.
Despite the fact that V & T locomotive 18 is no longer operational, it is still an imposing symbol of our past achievements and an important reminder of our future opportunities. Although including the Dayton in the parade was an 11th-hour decision, the Nevada State Museum should be commended for the efficient manner in which its staff prepared and safeguarded this meticulously restored artifact for its last parade appearance of the century.
Given the theme of this year's event, it was altogether fitting that the Dayton was chosen as the means of conveyance for grand marshal Patty Sheehan, who, accompanied by friends and family, rode on the tender through the streets of the Capital City acknowledging the thousands of parade attendees who lined the street in enthusiastic recognition of Nevada's 135th birthday. The selection of Patty as grand marshal for a parade commemorating our historic railroads was particularly appropriate given Patty's status as a member of the Northern Nevada Railway Foundation's Advisory Board.
Inducted into the Ladies Professional Golf Association's Hall of Fame in 1993, Patty is a veteran player who, during her 20-year tenure, has won six major tournaments with 35 total career victories to her credit.
Although primarily known for her accomplishments as a golfer, Patty was also ranked as one of the top junior snow skiers in the country at the age of 13. Ranked No. 3 among women golfers based on career earnings, Patty has also been enlisted as a design consultant on a number of golf course construction projects in Nevada and California.
Patty has the honor of sharing the distinction of being grand marshal with such notable personalities as Clark Gable and Lorne Green and Michael Landon of "Bonanza" fame.
When recently asked to reflect on her impressions of the parade, Patty spoke with genuine exuberance. Despite being a little overwhelmed by the artificial smoke that wafted from the stack upwind from the tender, Patty described her experience as "a blast."
"It was a lot of fun. The reception was great and the Grand Ball the night before was a real hoot. Although my son, Blake, slept through most of the ride during the parade, my daughter, Bryce, stayed awake in disbelief that she was actually riding on a real locomotive."
When asked why she agreed to join the Foundation's Advisory Board, Patty's response was direct and pragmatic. "Participating in the V & T reconstruction project enables me to teach my children about the importance of the past."
Beyond her motivations as a parent, Patty has been personally inspired by the presence of trains in her childhood.
"I was brought up in Middlebury, Vermont," Patty recounts. "As a kid I could hear the trains run by Otter Creek behind our house." Patty's fascination with these iron horses, as they swept by her home and into her heart, has persisted throughout the years.
She is now intent on sharing her lifetime interest in trains with her own children by helping to perpetuate the legacy of the V & T Railroad through her involvement with the Northern Nevada Railway Foundation.