All aboard for the end of the line: Diesel engine makes first run on section of reconstructed V&T Railway |

All aboard for the end of the line: Diesel engine makes first run on section of reconstructed V&T Railway

Jarid Shipley
Kevin Clifford / Nevada Appeal

Watching the Gold Hill Cemetery get swallowed by the horizon and looking out onto American Flat was a sight Bob Gray had longed to see for a very long time.

Gray was there for one of the last trips made through the area by the V&T Railroad in 1938. In 1974, Gray reconstructed the first rails along the historic short line’s right-of-way in Virginia City.

Saturday night, Gray was aboard the first train to traverse the 1.4 miles of track completed by the Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the V&T Railway in April. Further adding to his excitement was that his son Tom was behind the controls.

“This is a bigger thrill than the last time, but you really can’t compare the two,” Bob Gray said. “I’ve walked the track several times, but it’s a much different view from the train.”

Tom Gray said they wanted to do a test run on the new track to work out any glitches and to get the engineers more familiar with the route.

“These rails have never been run on, so they need a lot of weight on them so that it will help the bedding,” Tom Gray said.

The weight of the cars helps to drive the rail supports into the ground and makes the track more stable.

The new track features a 3 percent grade after leaving Gold Hill and a 14 degree curve to be navigated.

One of the safety features along the way is two red lights situated off to the side of the track. Between them underground is part of the honeycomb of mine shafts in the area. Crews stretched a thin wire through the shaft and if the line tightens or slacks, it causes the lights to go on and prevents the train from rolling over the shaft.

During the inaugural trip, three engineers took turns piloting the D-1 Diesel engine and three cars along the track. In order for more regular trips to begin, engineers must complete certification on the new track.

The train made two trips to the end of the line Saturday evening, completing both without even a minor glitch.

“We took it extra slow the first time just to make sure that everything worked well,” Tom Gray said.

This test run will prepare the engineers for the Sunset Wine Train, a two-hour excursion set for Aug. 12.

Next month’s event will be the first experience on the new track for tourists. The 7 p.m. ride is limited to 100 passengers.

The Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the V&T Railway has been charged with reconstructing the entire 18-mile tourist line from Carson City to Gold Hill. It is expected to be completed by 2010.

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