The Northern Nevada Railway Foundation is offering a gala celebration and premiere opening night showing of "Water for Elephants" April 22 at the Galaxy Fandango.
"We're celebrating the starring role of our McCloud No. 18 steam engine in the movie. We're calling it a star," said the foundation's Marsha Burgess, laughing.
The 90-ton steam engine was shipped to Los Angeles on the back of a flatbed truck to be featured in the film about a circus train.
In return, Fox Studios paid $70,000 for use and the right to use stills from the film to market the locomotive's role in the movie.
The film is based on a novel by Sara Gruen, and chronicles a young man who works as a veterinarian on a circus train. The movie stars Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson of the "Twilight" series.
The gala will be from 5:30-6:45 p.m. at the theater with a no-host bar and food including Swedish meatballs, Asian orange chicken, tortellini alfredo, a cheese and organic cracker platter, fresh fruit platter and salad caprese.
At 6:45 p.m., party-goers will move into the theater where the V&T's Jim Clark, whom some might call No. 18's talent agent, will talk about the making of the movie and autograph movie posters. Guests will then be shown five minutes worth of clips from other movies starring V&T engines, and the movie starts at 7 p.m.
During the party, the foundation will raffle off several prizes such as an autographed copy of the book, T-shirts, sweatshirts, Gold Dust West gift certificates, rail plaques and "The V & T Lives" DVDs. Items might also be available for sale.
A special silent auction item to be offered is a one-way ride in the cab of No. 18 from Virginia City to Carson City on the Saturday morning of their choice during the regular operating season.
V&T trains have been featured in a number of films from 1937-1980. They are referred to as the "studio trains." No. 18 has been in 15 movies prior to "Water for Elephants," including "Young Tom Edison," "The Last Stagecoach West," and "Frontier Badmen."
Tickets to the before party are $15 for adults, and $10 for children under 12. The theater holds about 300 people, and Burgess said she would love to sell that many tickets. For event or raffle tickets or more information, call 885-6833, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.
"We're trying to keep the project out front of bringing the train through the Carson River Canyon to the Draco Way Depot," Burgess said.