V&T project chugging along | TahoeDailyTribune.com

V&T project chugging along

Becky Bosshart

Brad Horn / Tribune News Service/ Warren Butler, of Fallon, from left, George Waskovich, of Fernley, and Ben Brink, gauge track at the V&T railroad project in Gold Hill on Friday morning.

GOLD HILL – Railroad workers joined the reconstructed Virginia & Truckee Railway tracks to the existing Gold Hill rails Friday morning, which brings the length to about three miles, the longest it’s been since the historic railroad was torn out in the 1950s.

“I’ve been waiting for that for a long time,” said V&T Railroad owner Bob Gray from his Orinda home. “I was hoping it would happen. I’ve been looking forward to this for many years.”

When completed, the V&T will run from Carson City to Virginia City. A recently purchased $420,000 steam locomotive will run on the reconstructed tracks then take the railroad line up to Virginia City.

The V&T Railroad is a tourist track that has been operated by Gray since 1976.

Railroad subcontractor RailWorks Track Systems laid the rail for phase one of the reconstruction project, a 1.4-mile stretch from American Flat, across the Overman Pit to the Gold Hill Depot. The depot is where Gray’s 1.8-mile line begins.

He said Friday he doesn’t know if his diesel train will run down the newly completed rail to American Flat.

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“We’re not sure yet,” Gray said. “Maybe once a day we’ll run it. But we’ll have to make some test runs first.”

His two steam locomotives are out of service, but one should be operational in a few months, he said.

Gray said he has talked to V&T officials about purchasing his track, but “we haven’t worked out the details yet.”

He won’t say if he will sell the tourist track. He wants to see first what the Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the V&T Railway will put on the table.

Commission Chairman Bob Hadfield said the ceremony marking the completion of phase one, a Nevada Department of Transportation project, will be in October near Columbus Day.

“We do know now that we can do it at the recess of Congress,” he said.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., is expected to give the keynote address. Reid helped secure $10 million attached to the federal transportation bill for the V&T.