Chamber News & Views: Stewart Indian School & V&T made its mark
In 1869, Carson City became the central hub for the V&T Railroad, a passenger and freight train, with tracks eventually reaching as far south as Gardnerville, as far north as Reno, and along the William Street/Hwy 50 mill route traveling northeast to Virginia City.
One of the daily little known stops was made by Train #2, about 9:35 a.m., to drop off goods, supplies and passengers at the Stewart Indian School train station before traveling south to Minden and Gardnerville.
The Stewart Indian School was founded in 1890 to enculturate Native Americans and occupied 240 acres. Many of the 63 buildings were built by apprentice masons out of native stone. The V&T Railroad platform, repurposed today by State Buildings & Grounds, is a fine example of that stonework.
Most of the Stewart buildings are finally being reroofed to keep the weather from further deteriorating them, and some are being replaced by new metal tiles.
Stewart Indian School closed in 1980, 30 years after the V&T stopped service.
Though the V&T was a mainstay in Carson’s history, only two buildings survived – the V&T Depot located at the corner of Carson and W. Robinson Streets – owned since 1953 by the Carson Lodge No.1, Free and Accepted Masons, chartered on May 15, 1862 – and the newly discovered Building #84 at the Stewart complex, not easily found because it is not on the published walking trail.
Sadly, on May 31, 1950, the last passenger and freight train serving Carson City and Virginia City ended a long colorful and historic run. All the V&T rails were removed by 1953.
With the removal of the rails, there is little opportunity to recreate that important piece of history other than the tourism train today operating seasonally from the Carson/Lyon County lines funded almost exclusively by Carson City.
Unfortunately, there was no long-term vision. Today the train could have served as a welcome commuter train as well as a major tourism attraction.
Looking into the past is always an exercise in futility when it comes to decisions made by those before us who thought they knew best.