Steam engine back on the rails in VC |

Steam engine back on the rails in VC

Becky Bosshart
Appeal Staff Writer

The whistle of a locomotive will echo through the Comstock again starting in May.

“We’ve had four years without it, and it makes a big difference,” said Virginia & Truckee Railroad owner Bob Gray. “We’ll be running steam this summer.”

Gray built the V&T Railroad from Gold Hill to Virginia City in the mid-1970s. His family-owned and operated railroad is about two miles long and has been traversed by a diesel engine since the locomotive was taken out of commission.

Gray’s line connects to a mile of track built late last year by the Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the V&T Railway. The entire 18-mile tourist rail line from Carson City to Gold Hill will be completed in 2010.

Gray said Tuesday from his Orinda, Calif., home that he still doesn’t know if the commission will buy his track and the rolling stock, which includes the No. 29 steam engine.

His son, Tom Gray, said they would like to run their trains over the new track. The commission is expected to discuss this at its April meeting. If approved, the diesel engine would be the first train on the new track, and then the steam engine.

The No. 29 has a brass bell, a green and red cab and a silver front end. It was constructed in 1916 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia. Tom Gray said his father bought it from another railroad in 1977 for $25,000.

Its $500,000 overhaul was done by three V&T Railroad workers. The engine has new running gear, brass, break rigging and suspension.

Chief engineer Chuck Haynes will probably be the first to run the engine.

“I’m sure everyone is going to want to hear the return of that steam whistle in the Comstock,” he said.

Fares will increase from $7 to $8 for adults and up to $4 for children. The V&T Railroad Depot is at F and Washington streets.

n Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at or 881-1212.