Fund-raiser a 'train person's dream"

Train 1, the first of 50 license plates to benefit the Virginia & Truckee Railroad restoration project, now belongs to Janice Ayres.

Ayres out-bid other auction attendees at last weekend's fund-raiser for the first plate but refuses to say just how much she paid.

The first 14 of the 15 plates went during the auction that raised more than $25,000.

"Isn't that simply magnificent?" Ayres said. "It's mostly due to Tamarack Junction and because of the things people donated.

"I bid and got license plate No. 1. I've wanted it since we were going to do it. I told them with all the work I've done they should just give it to me. They told me if I wanted it, I had to bid for it."

Ayres said donors offered 169 items for the auction, which raised money for a project to reconnect the railbed in Gold Hill 17 miles to Carson City along the historic right of way. The rail bed winds south and east through sage and pi-on, with Mount Como and Jobs Peak serving as backdrops to the south. The route bypasses two old railroad tunnels and is expected to cost $30 million.

Framed V&T stock certificates, bookends made from rails, first edition Nevada railroad books and a railroad spike removed by Ty Cobb helped make the auction a "train person's dream in one room" and were items "people were drooling over," Ayres said.

"William Cobb sent photos of his father, Ty Cobb, tearing up the trestle. Oh, yeah! Those went," she said.

An antique steamer trunk was purchased by a woman from Ely after it had been dragged through the door like many other items that showed up at the last minute.

Ayres said she hopes to make the auction an annual event. Those who would like to bid on what's left of the first 50 license plates can find Ayres and the foundation fund-raisers at Gov. Kenny Guinn's chili cookoff on Nevada Day at the Carson Nugget.

Built between 1869 and 1872, the V&T Railroad supplied the mines of Virginia City with lumber and transported ore to the mills in the valley in Carson River Canyon. Constructed by private investors, the Virginia & Truckee Railroad became known as the only railroad ever to carry its entire weight of locomotives, track and equipment in silver.


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