Project to save V&T gets boost in pledge | NevadaAppeal.com
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Project to save V&T gets boost in pledge

by Susie Vasquez

State Historic Preservation Officer Ron James has pledged $20,000 to the V&T project to salvage rail from Reno’s train trench. The money will come from a National Park Service grant.

The pledge will require matching funds, but the Historical Society has already collected about $55,000 toward the effort, so those funds are in place. Once the details have been worked out, the money will be part of the $90,000 needed to transport and store 4 miles of salvaged track from the Reno train trench project.

“The total grant, $55,000, was awarded to Storey County last summer,” James said.

Part of that grant will be used to purchase land for a new Virginia City depot, the building to house the Comstock Historic District Commission and Engine 27, but that leaves a balance in excess of $20,000, said Storey County Commissioner John Flanagan. Flanagan said he supports the decision to switch the funds.

“About $27,000 of the grant will be used to purchase the land and we’ll need more to extend the water and sewer,” Flanagan said. “But we should have the $20,000 for the V&T project.”

“This project will save the V&T effort about a half million dollars,” James said. “We’ll simply be reassigning the money for this specific project. We think it’s well worth the investment and we’re willing to shift those funds to the V&T project.”

James hopes a small portion of the rail could ultimately be used to extend the line another 300 yards into Virginia City once Tunnel 6, the original path of the V&T into Virginia City, has been cleared.

“It’s a short distance, but a huge leap psychologically,” James said. “If we can get the train rolling into Virginia City, the ridership could increase dramatically.”

The effort to salvage the track was the brainchild of Kim Fegert of the Gold Hill Historical Society. The organization has until Dec. 31 to get the money together.

The Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the V&T Railway collected about $25,000 from the sale of commemorative coins. Nevada resident Ted Contry donated another $20,000 to the effort and other donations came from businesses like International Games Technology and the Atlantis Casino & Resort.

Thursday, Fegert chained himself to a section of rail on Virginia City’s C Street and said he wouldn’t leave until the balance was collected.

“I want to thank Historic Preservation for paying attention and helping us out,” Fegert said. “I’m looking forward to working with them on it.”

It’s been more than 60 years since the V&T last ran between Virginia City and Carson City. Built between 1869 and 1872, it 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 line to Virginia City was abandoned in 1938, long after the major mines had played out and service ceased between Reno and Carson on May 31, 1950.

The complete restoration is expected to cost more than $40 million, officials said.

Contact Susie Vasquez at svasquez@nevadaappeal.com or call 881-1212.