John Tyson started his railroad career in 1975 when he helped lay tracks of the Virginia & Truckee Railroad in Virginia City. A self-described railroad fanatic, Tyson was recently appointed to the Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the Virginia & Truckee Railway.
He will take a bureaucratic role in the construction of the tourist line from Gold Hill to Carson City, but Tyson still yearns for the engineer's chair.
"My life's goal is to take the first train from Carson City to Virginia City, or vice versa," he said Tuesday. "Not just ride it, run it. I'm an engineer. That's why I keep my certification active."
Tyson, Channel 8's rural reporter, host and producer of "John Tyson's Journal," is also a Federal Railroad Administration-certified locomotive engineer for the Nevada Northern Railway in Ely.
"In June 1975, I was hired by Bob Gray to help lay the track inside the brand new engineer house in Virginia City," he said. "The following year, I was a brakeman, then I went from conductor to fireman. I was promoted to engineer in 1989."
On June 15, Tyson, 60, will replace Commissioner John Farahi, who is chief executive officer of Atlantis Resort Casino. Senate Majority Leader William Raggio appointed Tyson to the commission. V&T Railway Project Coordinator Kevin Ray said Farahi asked not to be reappointed to his position on the board because of time constraints.
"John's commitment to Nevada's cultural and historical affairs makes him a strong asset, distinguishing him as the most highly qualified candidate for the position," Raggio said.
The commission's nine members are appointed to four-year terms by various local governing authorities. The governor, speaker of the Assembly, the senate majority leader and the V&T Historical Society all appoint one commissioner each. The remaining five commissioners are appointed by each of the five counties that will be affected by the railway.
Ray said it's a bonus that the commission's new member is a newsman.
"Twice a week (on John Tyson's Journal) he goes out and finds unique stories about Nevada, so this is one of the most unique stories in Nevada," Ray said. "As a reporter, he brings that perspective of knowing what questions to ask."
Tyson, who lives in Genoa while he waits for his Virginia City house to be finished, said he doesn't believe serving on the board will be a conflict of interest. Tyson routinely has produced news stories and written columns on the reconstruction of the V&T. He said the Channel 8 station manager may prevent him from covering future stories on the reconstruction.
"My goal is to do whatever I can to further the progress of the V&T Railway to Carson City," Tyson said. "I will do that with whatever power I have with media contacts."
A reporter for Channel 8 for 19 years, Tyson also worked for Channel 2 for about two years.
He was the director of broadcast services for the National Guard bureau working out of Central America in 1986. Tyson recently retired from the Nevada Air National Guard after 43 years in the service.
n Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at email@example.com or 881-1212.