Lay the track, and the train won't be that far behind.
As the Overman Pit is filled and the first stage of preparation for laying the new tracks that will carry the Virginia & Truckee Railway's steam engine is completed, train enthusiasts are ready to ride.
"I'd like to find a way of being one of the first on the train," said train fan John Claudino. His business, Aztec Manufacturing, is making and selling model railroad accessories.
"It seems like everybody has heard of the V&T," he said Monday. "It's a popular railroad for modelers and enthusiasts and I think it will be a big draw and a boon to the economy."
Before the tracks are laid, the path, or right-of-way, has to be cleared. So far, workers have prepared the ground from the south end of the Overman Pit downhill for about three-quarters of a mile, said Kim Fegert, project manager for the Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the V&T Railway. He is responsible for inspecting the track material and its assembly.
"Since I live up there, my family went out there to walk the dog recently and my little boy is really impressed with it," he said. "I've been working on the railroad since 1982 and since this project got under way in 1992. So, after eight or nine years of nothing it's cool to see this project progress so much."
Fegert said subcontractor RailWorks will lay the tracks in place beside the right-of-way until it is ready to be assembled atop a layer of gravel.
He said the narrow section of the Overman Pit is filled.
"What they've accomplished is very impressive, but they still have a lot of dirt to move," Fegert said.
Virginia & Truckee Railway project coordinator Kevin Ray said the project is on schedule and could possibly be a little ahead.
When completed, the reconstructed V&T will run from Carson City to Gold Hill. Commissioners plan to run their recently purchased $420,000 steam locomotive on the reconstructed tracks and then ride on the V&T Railroad line up to Virginia City. The V&T Railroad is a tourist track operated by Bob Gray since 1976.
Granite Construction is the contractor for the first phase of the project, from the old Gold Hill Depot, spanning the Overman Pit and then to American Flat. The 17 miles of track and depots will cost about $30 million.
The $30 million project has three phases. Phase one, which is under construction, goes from Gold Hill across the Overman Pit to American Flat, which is 1.4 miles. It should be completed in late August.
The second leg is from American Flat to Highway 50 at the Carson/Lyon county line, 9.3 miles. It should be completed in late 2006. Phase three is the Carson River loop, which is 3.7 miles, and the Carson River extension, 2.6 miles, which extends to Deer Run Road. It is scheduled to be completed in 2008.
n Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1212.