Visions of a tourism bonanza
The formation of an independent corporation to raise money for a rail line between Minden and Reno is the most intriguing idea to come along in quite awhile and, we hope, injects new enthusiasm into the reconstruction project for the Virginia & Truckee Railroad.
The recently formed V&T Operating Co., brought together by some of Douglas and Carson’s leading businesspeople, has an ambitious goal to raise $100 million to build the line. The concept is to sell shares to the public at $1,000 each, or $100 for a nonvoting share.
However, the 17-mile segment from Carson City to Gold Hill remains the key link to the railroad’s historical past, and a train ride to the Comstock will be the centerpiece for resurrection of the V&T as a tourist attraction.
To help make sure the most vital part of the line remains a priority, the new corporation has pledged to match the first $10 million raised by the Nevada Commission to Reconstruct the V&T Railway, the board working to complete the Carson City to Virginia City stretch.
Aside from the obvious benefits to tourism, the V&T Operating Co. is also talking about hauling commuters and freight between Minden and Reno.
What an alluring idea. As we watch the snow pile up outside our windows and listen to the mutterings of commuters who have made their way along Highway 395 through Washoe Valley in the storms, we can’t help but imagine a V&T engine plowing through the snow to carry them between home and work.
Skeptics may scoff at the idea of a functioning rail line in this day and age. They can point to many failing train services, and argue that people are too reluctant to give up their cars.
We prefer to think back to February 1869, when Henry Yerington oversaw groundbreaking ceremonies between Mound House and Gold Hill for an improbable — some thought impossible — construction project.
It took $3 million, some 1,600 workers and only nine months to build what would become the Queen of the Short Lines.
It also took vision.
A reconstructed V&T will never repay investors the way it did when riches poured out of the silver mines the original line was built to serve. It doesn’t need to, though.
If it can be built and operated, the V&T will be enough to create an enduring tourism draw by reconnecting Northern Nevada to its history. That’s a powerful vision of the future.