Second Pullman car for V&T Railroad arrives in Virginia City

VIRGINIA CITY " A second vintage Pullman passenger car " identical to the first " was taken off a 36-wheel flatbed truck Wednesday and put on the rails for a trip to its new home, the Virginia & Truckee Railroad.

The historic Comstock rail line's owners, Bob Gray and his family, brought the first of two Pullman passenger cars, the "Gold Hill," on July 17 after a 2,000-mile cross-country trip from Green Bay, Wis. The two cars were owned by the Kettle Moraine tourist rail line in Wisconsin. They both were built in 1914 and are 68-feet long.

A crane was needed to take the car off the truck and place it on train wheels situated on the V&T's tracks near the station on F Street, Virginia City. First one end, then the other, and the new car was ready to be towed by the railroad's diesel engine to the V&T shop and railyard for refurbishing.

The Grays, whose railroad takes visitors from Virginia City to Gold Hill seven times daily, purchased the two Pullman cars last year at a railroad convention from a Wisconsin dealer.

"We're very pleased," Bob Gray said. "We planned for them and negotiated for them for quite a while."

Bob Gray restored the V&T line from Virginia City to Gold Hill in 1976.

Tom Gray, Bob's son, said the twin Pullman will be called the "Silver City."

The cars are part of the Virginia & Truckee Railroad's program of rebuilding this historic railroad into a premier attraction for Virginia City and Northern Nevada.

The return of steam Engine 29 this summer and the restoration of these vintage passenger cars this winter will provide an unforgettable experience for visitors to Virginia City in the years ahead, Tom Gray said.

Like the "Gold Hill," the "Silver City" will feature Hale and Kilborn wicker seats and maroon leather backs that flip " called "walkovers" " so that riders can sit forward or backward, 32-volt fans, a bathroom and steam heat.

Originally built for the Delaware Lackawanna and Western Railroad, the Victorian-style coach has open vestibules, seats 75 travelers and features clerestory windows.

Gray said he found photos of the cars in the Smithsonian, and now knows what the original lights looked like, so hopefully he can replicate them.

He also has a 1907 parlor car, a caboose he's working on, the diesel engine and two steam engines, No. 29, a 1916 Baldwin, and No. 8, which was built in 1907 and still needs more work.

Gray plans to upgrade the steam heat system, and said he will be able to use both cars in the future, along with one of the two open-air cars from 1914 and 1916 that he uses now.

"It's going to be a nice vintage train," he said. "It's all pre-World War I, from the end of the Victorian period."

Gray plans to use the cars for after-hours excursion trains, corporate events and trips along the reconstructed track past Gold Hill from time to time. On Oct. 15, a group of dignitaries and others who helped the Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the V&T Railway with their work so far will take a special train past the just-completed Tunnel 2.

He said the Carson Rotary and a scissors company have booked special trains as well.

"There will be more comfortable seating and a lot more amenities," Gray said.

- Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@nevadaappeal.com or call 881-7351.

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