Organizers train sights on track
Time and money are all that stand between the V&T Railroad and four miles of track.
Kim Fiegert of the Gold Hill Historical Society said the group has four months to raise $90,000 to hire a contractor to pick up track from the Reno trench project.
There are 2.5 miles of double track running through the middle of Reno that has to go somewhere else. The Union Pacific Railroad has said it will salvage a mile of track, but the rest will go to extend the Virginia & Truckee as far as Mound House, if proponents can find the money.
The Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the V&T Railway, the historical society and others are working to rebuild the Virginia & Truckee from Gold Hill where it presently ends 17 miles to Carson City. Construction is estimated to cost $40.9 million.
“We’re too small to move the track ourselves,” he said of the historical society, which has 14 members. “Then there are the insurance requirements. We are too small to get insurance to work with the track. We have to use a contractor. It is just not practical to deal with this much track by hand.”
The estimated four miles of track would cost $500,000 to purchase, and it comes in miles-long sections.
“The track is welded together and has to be cut into sections,” he said. The 40-foot sections consisting of rail, spike, and ties will be trucked to Mound House where the group will drill holes in the end to bolt it together.
“It is just like model railroad track,” he said.
The track won’t be ready until April 1, but Granite Construction, which is donating the track as the contractor on the Reno trench project, must know by December if the V&T can take up the offer.
“Granite needs to know there will be someone to take the track or they have to make other arrangements,” he said. “That’s what has me concerned. If I had a year to take care of it, I would be OK, but everything is happening so fast.”
Things are starting to happen very fast with the V&T. Work on the $5.4 million crossing of the Overman Pit should begin soon, Fiegert said. A railroad bridge, which has long crossed Interstate 15 north of Las Vegas, will be pressed into service to bring the train across Highway 50.
“After 10 years, a lot of people have been saying they will give money when they see something happen,” Fiegert said. “This is the ‘see something happen’ part.”
“After we get across the Overman Pit, we’ve got to keep moving. This track will allow us to do that.”
Built between 1869 and 1872, the V&T Railroad supplied the mines of Virginia City with material and transported ore to the mills in the valley below. The V&T became known as the only railroad ever to carry its entire weight of locomotives, track and equipment in silver.
The V&T stopped operating between Carson and Virginia City in 1938 and stopped operating completely May 31, 1950.
You can help
The Gold Hill Historical Society is seeking sponsors at $100 a foot for track or $50 a foot for rails. Donations may be sent to the Gold Hill Historical Society Reconstruction Program, PO Box 1052, Virginia City, Nev., 89440.
To donate money for the V&T Railway, contact Kevin Ray, project coordinator, 1900 S. Carson St. Suite 100, Carson City, NV, 89702