$30,000 pledged for V&T rail project | NevadaAppeal.com

$30,000 pledged for V&T rail project

by Susie Vasquez, Appeal Staff Writer

Supporters dedicated to rebuilding the Virginia & Truckee Railroad between Carson City and Gold Hill have pledged about $30,000 of an estimated $100,000 needed to transport and store four miles of track from downtown Reno.

Atlantis Casino Resort in Reno donated $5,000 to the project, as did International Games Technology, said Kim Fegert, spokesman for the Gold Hill Historical Society.

“That puts them squarely in our ‘favorite people’ corner,” he said. “We just had a treasurer’s report Saturday and so far, we’ve collected about $15,000.

“We still have a ways to go, but we’ve spent a lot of time pounding the pavement and I’m really impressed with the interest and support for this project,” he said.

The balance of the money was collected through the sale of commemorative coins, an idea instigated by Kevin Ray, project coordinator for the Commission for Reconstruction of the V&T Railway.

Displaying the historic Inyo engine on one side and Nevada’s state seal on the other, each coin will contain one ounce of silver and bear the Carson City mint mark. They sell for $100 each.

The coins will be minted at the Nevada State Museum. The first 100 were to be minted Nevada Day, but the number was increased to 350 because the demand was so high.

Reservations had been taken for about 225 coins and there are two weeks left to reserve a coin before the first day of minting. Because this coin will be the first of a series, the coins have been popular, Ray said.

“The $30 million needed for the project seems daunting, but dividing it into phases allows people to get involved,” he said. “People are excited about donating to specific project and when they buy a coin, they know they’re moving the project forward.”

The project got another boost when Granite Construction donated a signal bridge, an apparatus used to hold up traffic lights, Fegert said.

“They started using these in the 1920s. The bridge is fairly old, but it’s not something found historically on the V&T,” Fegert said. “They’re rare and very expensive to reproduce,so we’re going to use it to raise money.”

He said museums or a private collector could be interested, so V&T officials plan to sell the old bridge on the Internet for about $8,000.

The track, which will be used to complete about four miles of rail line between Gold Hill and Carson City, was donated to the V&T project by Granite Construction. The company is removing the rails to make way for Reno’s train trench and this acquisition is expected to save the V&T project about $500,000.

Officials must have the $100,000 together by Dec. 31, so the track can be moved in April 2004. Ray said he’s fairly confident the money can be raised and commission dollars could be used to supplement any shortfalls.

Should any extra funds be collected in this effort, they’d be put to good use, Fegert said.

“Normally, building a rail line this size shouldn’t take more than a year, but we don’t have a lot of money,” Fegert said. “Any extra money could go to putting the rail down. There’s no reason to set the brakes. We still need the money.”

It’s been more than 60 years since the V&T last ran between Virginia City and Carson City.

Built between 1869 and 1872, it supplied Virginia City’s mines with raw materials like lumber and transported ore to the mills in the valley below.

The V&T was known as the only railroad ever to carry its entire weight of locomotives, track and equipment in silver.

It was abandoned in 1938, long after the major mines had played out and stopped operating completely on May 31, 1950.