Crews are working to repair the flood-damaged grounds and rail at the Nevada State Railroad Museum, removing tons of sediment, rebuilding rail beds and replacing track that was seriously damaged when flood waters swept across the museum grounds in January.
Heavy rains in January caused a large amount of water to flow down Rhodes Drive at the mouth of Voltaire Canyon. City crews tried to divert it along Curry Street to prevent it from flooding south Carson Street.
“Unfortunately, their diversion stopped right at our property line,” said Museum Director Dan Thielen.
A torrent of water roared through the museum grounds, digging deep channels and undermining railroad tracks, flooding the museum’s shops and annex buildings with several inches of water.
The initial damage estimates were a half million dollars in immediate repairs afterward and up to $1.6 million to fix all of the rail and everything.
Thankfully, he said no historic equipment or collections were damaged.
The museum show room opened in March but the rest of the property including the grounds, the annex and shop areas have been shuttered while museum crews and volunteers began the clean up.
Now, he said the main restoration and repairs are under way.
“We’ve got two companies out there working it right now,” said Thielen this week. “One that is removing sediment and the other one that is fixing the railroad.”
The second of those companies must first fix “the ballast” — the gravel and rock structure beneath the ties and rails that provides them with a foundation. Experts say when that ballast gets inundated with sediment, the effect undermines the rails themselves and starts rotting the railroad ties.
Thielen said they hope to have the work completed in time for the Memorial Day weekend so they can run trains with passengers on the loop around the museum grounds.
“We are going to run full-scale operations for Memorial Day,” said Thielen. “We’ve been assured they can meet that deadline.”
The museum is open to the public Thursday through Monday each week form 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is $6 but free for those 17 and under.
Guy Clifton from Travel Nevada contributed to this report.