They were purchased to refurbish and perhaps run on the reconstructed V&T Railway. Now five historic rail cars could be headed for the auction block or a private sale.
The Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the V&T Railway voted to sell each of the $5,000 cars. It will cost more than that to move and store them.
The commission purchased the five 1923 Southern Pacific Harriman suburban coaches in 2006 from Golden Gate Railroad Museum at the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard without knowing for sure if the cars would ever roll on the rails. In March of that year, they were moved to the Feather River Railway Society museum in Portola, Calif.
"This has been brought up before the commission a number of times," said Commission Chairman Bob Hadfield. "In general figures, including the payment of the bill and the purchase and relocation of the cars from San Francisco and Portola, and the rent, there has been more than $50,000 invested in these five railroad cars."
Commissioner John Tyson sent a letter asking them to consider a recommendation to refurbish the cars.
Tyson said the Sierra Nevada Association of Realtors has pledged $50,000 to refurbish one car. Tyson also wanted to refurbish one and keep another for parts, moving to the property that will be home to the Carson City depot of the new V&T.
In his letter, he said the cars could be used to run special wine and dinner trains for fundraising once the track is built across Highway 50, and could include Virginia & Truckee Railroad owner Tom Gray's parlor car as well.
If the cars didn't run on the track, they could be available for movie work and special events, Tyson wrote.
Commissioner Ron Allen, who headed the operations team that decided to buy the cars for $25,500 from the Golden Gate Railroad Museum, will arrange the sale.
The commission has to date paid $25,000 for the cars, $4,000 to prepare them for removal and $25,000 to tow them to Portola. In addition, it has paid $1,500 to store the cars and, on Monday, voted to pay another $7,500 for storage.
Commissioner Dwight Millard wanted to donate the cars to Tyson or a nonprofit of his choosing, but Commissioner Marv Teixeira thought that would be a conflict of interest. Teixeira suggested the commission could sell the cars.
"I think we ought to dump the things," he said. "I don't know who would take them. Commissioner Tyson has it really set in his mind that we should run a train, and that's the last thing we should do."
The Northern Nevada Railway Foundation, the fundraising arm of the commission, has $50,000 from the Sierra Nevada Association of Realtors for the expressed purpose of restoring a railroad car, said Realtor and foundation member Stephen Lincoln, but didn't specify which car.
"The commitment was to dedicate the funds for the reconstruction and rebuilding a rail car that we would have recognition on," he said. "They thought that Bob Gray was going to donate one of his old cars that needs to be fixed."
Lincoln said the foundation is waiting to see what kind of car the Sierra Railroad, who won the bid to operate the reconstructed V&T, would choose for the train, and make sure it was a car that would be usable and utilized on the reconstructed route.
- Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at email@example.com or call 881-7351.