Carson City mayor optimistic about V&T tourism
Mayor Robert Crowell, a member of the Nevada Commission for Reconstruction of the V&T Railway, sees a solid season ahead for Virginia & Truckee Railroad tourism.
“I think if opening day is any indication, we’re going to have a great season,” said Crowell, who also took a longer-term view by talking of plans for eventual upgrades at the Eastgate rail depot facility at Carson City’s eastern edge.
“That’s already on everybody’s radar screen,” he said of longer-term improvements. “We’ve got to make that Eastgate more habitable.”
The mayor was keying his short-term remarks about the summer season to the Memorial Day weekend kickoff run by the V&T No. 18 steam engine and passenger cars, which attracted nearly 190 on that ride to Virginia City and back Saturday.
“It was pretty much sold-out,” Kevin Ray, project coordinator for the V&T, reported after the train pulled out of Eastgate that first day.
The mayor said the V&T’s new “Jersey Lil” passenger car adds seats for the train, which should “drive more revenue” during the shank of the steam rail and vacation season during the warmer months. But the historic V&T offers not only summer runs, but various other attraction-oriented events with special rides earlier and later in the year.
For example, there is one on Mother’s Day earlier in May, and the Polar Express runs during the holiday season. Last year the V&T carried some 20,000 passengers on the various runs.
Dressing up Eastgate to make it more serviceable for both passengers and the railroad already is in the offing, at least with regard to planning stages, the mayor said. He referred questions on specifics to Ken Dorr, V&T project engineer, after saying the long-term goal is for an upgrade projected at $6 million if funds can be found.
Dorr said the commission already has received 21 acres in right-of-way as a grant from the Bureau of Land Management and that the environmental work is done, but financing has yet to be secured. The hope is to do upgrades in phases, he said, with the first phase costing an estimated $750,000.
Envisioned is expansion of Eastgate for greater access at Flint Drive, eventually putting in more parking, a better depot and additional track. In an early phase, some 2,000 feet of additional track and siding would help out when funds become available.
“It depends on that money,” he said. “The idea is to make it a much better facility.”