Very few railroad museums have an original, wood-burning steam locomotive that still runs. It's so rare, in fact, that when the Nevada State Railroad Museum fires up the 127-year-old Inyo this weekend, it'll attract train buffs from across the nation.
Rich Reitnauer of the museum got a call two weeks ago from a guy in Washington, D.C.
He confirmed the Virginia & Truckee locomotive would be running, then reserved a plane ticket to see it.
"That's how dedicated people are," Reitnauer said. "It's amazing the lengths that people will go to."
Lee "Hobo" Hobold, a 15-year restoration specialist at the museum, will be driving the old locomotive from 10 a.m. until 11 on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
"I get the privilege of running the crown jewel of the collection," he said. "I swell with pride when I drive that thing around with the American flag and the Nevada state flag. It's a thing of beauty - all the brass and the red wheels. It's just absolutely exhilarating"
The Inyo, called the "Brass Betsy" because of her highly polished fixtures, still has its original boiler.
In 1875 when she started working in Nevada, the boiler carried 150 pounds of pressure. Inspectors only allow her to carry 75 pounds now, but that's plenty to make it around the track at the train museum - even hauling a car full of passengers.
The boiler works like a fireplace and teapot, Hobold said. The crew will start a wood fire to make steam. It runs through tubes into a dome then to the pistons, which drive the wheels.
"It's like a teapot, only instead of letting the steam escape from the spout, you control it," Hobold said.
Museum staff will also be running oil-powered locomotives Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
The museum, at 2180 S. Carson St. and Fairview Drive, is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For details, call 687-6953.
Contact Karl Horeis at email@example.com or 881-1219.