It has been called the most historically important train car in existence and how it traveled over the past 150 years from the Golden Spike ceremony at Promontory Summit, Utah to the center of a new exhibit at the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City is quite a tale.
Built in 1868 in Sacramento by the Central Pacific Railroad, and originally called the Commissioner’s Car, it has been known for much of its life as V&T Coach 17 — a time, weather and woodpecker-worn survivor of railroading history.
One hundred and fifty years ago, it carried Central Pacific President Leland Stanford and other dignitaries to Promontory for the completion of the nation’s first transcontinental railroad; and for decades it carried passengers to and from the silver boom on the Comstock Lode in Nevada before carrying a host of Hollywood actors in numerous films and television shows.
On Thursday, Nevada State Railroad Museum Curator of Education Adam Michalski will tell the story of Coach 17 — the latest in a series of lectures leading up to the opening of the new exhibit, “The Transcontinental Railroad: What a Difference It Made.”
The event starts at 6 p.m. Tickets are $6 for adults, free for members of the Friends of the Nevada State Railroad Museum and for children 17 and younger.
Michalski will discuss the car’s brief, but important history, with the Central Pacific, its long life of service and transformation into a passenger coach on the V&T Railroad, how it ended up in Hollywood (the reason for its current paint job) and how it came to be the oldest artifact in the collection of the Nevada State Railroad Museum.
He’ll also discuss some of the things museum staff discovered during the car’s stabilization starting in 2016 and the reasoning behind the decision to preserve the coach in a state of arrested decay, rather than restoring it.