Carson City voters react to V&T ride and ballot question
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer
Some clapped and other sat still after tour guide Randy Harris asked the 40 passengers on the Virginia & Truckee Railroad to applaud a state project that would build a tourist railroad from Virginia City to Carson City.
The private Virginia & Truckee Railroad usually runs from Virginia City to Gold Hill, but it took passengers Tuesday on new track around the Overman Pit and through American Flat built by the Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the V&T Railway.
The Carson City Convention and Visitors Bureau gave out 1,500 free tickets this month for Carson City residents to ride the new track to showcase the project that is scheduled to be done around 2011 and run from a depot on the east side of Carson City.
“That’s going to be a great day for the State of Nevada,” Harris said.
Voters will decide on an advisory question Tuesday that would raise the Carson City sales tax one-eighth of a cent to help finish the state tourist train project modeled after the original 19th century train built to handle the Virginia City mining boom.
The V&T commission wants to buy the Virginia & Truckee Railroad so it can finish the project according to its design. The commission canceled an agreement with the business last year that would have allowed it to be the train operator for the state project.
Claudette Thompson, an employee at the Nevada Commission on Tourism and passenger on the train Tuesday, said she’s voting for the ballot question because it will be a “wonderful” tourist draw for the city.
The ride that passed old mines, pinon pines and mountain slopes was “fantastic” and helped encourage her to vote for the question.
“You need the experience to appreciate what they’re trying to advance here,” she said.
The V&T project will also be good for business and future generations in Carson City, said Scott Mattheus, another passenger and retired city resident.
But his wife, Evelyn Mattheus, who rode with him, said the project should be finished with private donations. This is not a good year, she said, to ask more of Carson City, which has already given $21 million to the project expected to cost more than $55 million.
“It’s just such a bad economic time,” she said.
Mike Olson, a Carson City businessman, who rode with his wife, Kathy Olson, said the project hasn’t been handled well, but he’ll probably support the ballot question.
The city and the V&T commission should have done a better job of preserving the historic items and infrastructure from the original V&T, he said, but at least the ballot question won’t raise property taxes and will help finish the project.
“I’ll ride it when it’s done,” he said.
– Contact reporter Dave Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1212.