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V&T Railway to offer rail bikes through Carson River Canyon

Freedom Rail, rail bike manufacturer and tour operator, demonstrate its four-seat bike on the V&T rail inside the Carson River Canyon.
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A new way to explore the Carson River Canyon on the V&T Railway is coming soon.

Carson Canyon Rail Bike Rides, operated by the V&T Railway Commission and Freedom Rail, is expected to launch on Aug. 4.

The 4.3-mile trip will start at the Eastgate Depot, 4650 Eastgate Siding Road, and go to the Eureka Mill for snacks where a guide will discuss Carson River Canyon history. From there, the four-seated bikes turn around and either return to the depot or possibly pass it and go to the Halfway House stagecoach station in Mound House across the Highway 50 V&T train bridge.

“Crossing the bridge would be a strong selling point,” said Carson City Supervisor Stacey Giomi, who sits on the Culture and Tourism Authority, which met Monday and heard a presentation on the rail bikes.

The four-seated rail bikes are peddled, but also offer motors that can be activated for the climb out of the canyon, according to the tourism web site at https://visitcarsoncity.com/railbikes/.

The entire trip should take about an hour and 15 minutes, representatives from Freedom Rail told the CTA.

“The canyon route is very scenic,” said Mike Santos, the CTA’s representative on the commission. “This brings together our assets, outdoors, history, arts and culture.”

The tours will run four times a day, five days a week to start, through October or November, and cost $45 per seat or $150 per bike.

“The Carson City to Virginia City excursion train and our Toast of the Canyon Wine Train were canceled this year due to COVID-19. The rail bike option is a safe alternative and will have full access to our tracks this year since we are not running trains,” said Elaine Barkdull-Spencer, general manager, V&T Railway Commission. “Next season we will be able to safely run trains and rail bikes. The canyon track is under utilized and rail bikes are a perfect fit for such a picturesque and historic area of Carson City.”

The CTA was also briefed on the city’s room tax collections from David Peterson, executive director, CTA.

“I never thought I’d be happy to say we were down only 69 percent,” said Peterson, who had earlier projected a 90 percent drop in April collections.

For April, room tax revenue was $521,940.76, compared to $1.67 million in 2019.

Peterson said he expects May revenue to be down 53 percent and is projecting a 50 percent drop in June, an improvement over the 75 percent decrease initially forecast.