In memory of Kel Aiken: ‘May his ride be smooth and all of his trains on time’ |

In memory of Kel Aiken: ‘May his ride be smooth and all of his trains on time’

Ted Wurm Collection/Nevada State Railroad Museum A section crew waits for a train to clear the switch so that dismantling of the track could begin in 1950. The last run of the V&T ran in Carson City was May 31, 1950. This photo and the one by Kel Aiken of the same spot 50 years later, ran as part of the Appeal's "Making Tracks" series.

Steve VanDenburgh of Carson City wrote a letter to the Appeal this week about his friend Kelman Robert Aiken, Jr., of Genoa, who died April 3, 2006.

Aiken was born July, 13, 1937, and his obituary ran in the Nevada Appeal on April 8.

VanDenburgh said Aiken’s accomplishments deserved some public acknowledgment, and we agreed.

Here are some of his memories:

“Kel was a tall and jovial man. As a result, he projected a commanding but friendly presence.

He was also a railroad enthusiast and had at least three passions in that regard. He loved the challenge of recording present-day images that duplicated as closely as possible the scenes in historical photographs of the Virginia & Truckee Railway (many such pairs were presented in the Appeal).

He also thoroughly enjoyed documenting the array of vintage diesel locomotives still operating throughout the U.S. and Canada. In fact, he was nationally published on this topic.

And finally, he delighted in running scale models of very long freight trains, coal trains, for example, that mimicked today’s state-of-the-art railroading. These mega trains could be seen in action at the Carson Mall on occasion.”Thirty-three sets of Kel’s photo pairs showing the V&T ‘then and now’ (he referred to this project as a Rephotographic Survey) appeared in the Nevada Appeal between 1997 and 2000. They were part of a weekly column called Making Tracks, which was published in support of the effort to rebuild Nevada’s Silver Shortline from Gold Hill to Carson City.

Incidentally, the column was coordinated, edited, and in part written (anonymously) by current Carson City Supervisor Shelly Aldean, who today refers to that effort as a labor of love and remembers Kel as a ‘modest man with a quiet but assertive manner.’

I knew Kel only casually, but well enough to recognize that I’ve lost a good friend. If heaven has railroads (and I’d like to think it does), I’m sure Kel is already up to speed regarding all the celestial locomotives – and especially the vintage ‘critters!’

May his ride be smooth and all of his trains on time.”

Four teachers in the Carson City School district recently received grants from the Ormsby County Education Association, the district teacher’s union.

The OCEA’s Good Ideas Grant are allotted annually in amounts of up to $1,000 to teachers who seek help with school projects.

This year’s recipients are: John Test, a fifth-grade teacher at Mark Twain Elementary School, who received $250 to help purchase chess books and DVDs for this chess club; Phyllis Atkinson, a science teacher at Carson Middle School, who received $334 to maintain bird feeders at the school and the trout in the classroom program through the school’s environmental club; Sandra Hoboy, a reading specialist at Carson Middle School, who received $230.52 to purchase games and puzzles to encourage verbal and thinking skills; and John Valley, a science teacher at Carson High School, who received $750 to help subsidize enrollment in a science safety course in July in Reno.