Historic Engine No. 27 going back to Virginia City
After a 10-year hiatus, the Virginia & Truckee Railroad’s historic Engine No. 27 will be displayed in Virginia City once again.
Kept in a fenced area near Virginia City’s freight depot for 22 years, the train was removed in 1993 for restoration.
Long-time Virginia City resident Virgil Bucchianeri said the V&T Railroad abandoned the historic engine in 1950. The state took possession and then-Gov. Mike O’Callaghan lent it to Virginia City for display in the early 1970s.
“The Comstock Restoration Group agreed to provide maintenance for the engine. They always called it the governor’s engine,” he said. “It was up here a long time. They tried to keep it up, but the engine was always exposed to the weather.”
In 1993, Gov. Bob Miller moved the engine to Carson City with the understanding that it would move back to Virginia City when a shelter was provided.
“We had a big fight over that, because the people in Virginia City thought they might not get it back,” Bucchianeri said. “But that was actually the best thing for the engine.”
The state has stepped forward to build a barn to house the train, offices for the Comstock Historic District Commission and artifacts from archaeological digs in Virginia City.
“Primarily, the building will be state office space for the commission,” said Ron James, spokesman for Nevada’s Department of Cultural Affairs. “Right now, their building doesn’t hold much. They have just 300 square feet.”
Bert Bedeau, executive director of the commission, said that square-footage includes the bathroom.
“We’re woefully in need of the additional space,” he said. “We have no room for library or a lot of the documentation files we should keep.”
Negotiations are ongoing for purchase of the property, about a half-acre south of Virginia City’s old freight depot on D Street. Nevada’s Capital Improvement Program budget is providing the funding, roughly $700,000 over the next two years, James said.
“The first year will be dedicated to design, the second to construction,” he said.
Carson City architect John Copoulos is designing the roughly 4,000-square-foot structure.
“We hope to put the project out to bid next summer and move in by February of 2005,” he said. “We’re also planning for a new Storey County Library at this location. The county will have to figure out how to pay for that, but we’re going to locate our building so the two facilities will work together.”
He said the building and Engine 27 will likely be open for display, but staffing could be an issue.