18 July 2008
Ridin' the Rails, Old-School Style
The Pullman railroad car travels toward Virginia City on State Route 341 Thursday morning. The railroad car will eventually be used on the V&T Railroad from Gold Hill to Virginia City.
Virginia City Nevada USA - Visitors to this historic mining town will soon be able to ride in style in a "new" nearly 100-year-old Pullman passenger coach.
With Hale and Kilborn wicker seats and maroon leather backs that flip - called "walkovers" - so that riders can sit forward or backward, 32-volt fans, a bathroom, and steam heat, the cars are quite advanced from the open cars with wooden benches the railroad uses now.
Tom Gray, one of the owners of the Virginia & Truckee Railroad train that takes visitors from Virginia City to Gold Hill seven times daily, purchased two of the Pullman cars last year at a railroad convention from a seller in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
The first one, to be called the "Gold Hill," pulled into Virginia City Thursday morning after a 2,000-mile trip from the National Railway Museum in Green Bay on a flatbed tractor-trailer, where it was lifted off the truck by a crane and set on railroad wheels, then towed by the V&T's diesel engine to the rail yard for some sprucing up.
"I'm going to do a little bit of refurbishing for a month or so," he said. "I'll probably take one out for a test run this week to see how it rides."
He plans to take the seats out, though he will put back the wicker bottoms and re-upholster the backs. He also plans to paint the floor, change the lighting, and put in a tank for the toilet.
The train will be available for special events and private parties, and will be showcased as part of the Virginia City/Carson City Railfest in Virginia City 16 Aug 2008.
But Gray has a more practical use for it in mind.
"I think at first it will be good for the off-season, when it's cold, and for evening events," he said. "Hopefully, we can start our Christmas train going."
To do that, Gray plans to upgrade the car's steam heat system.
Gray said during the trip from Green Bay, the truck driver sometimes had to stop, because Nevada winds can wreak havoc on that kind of load, and everywhere he stopped, people would take photographs and ask about the train car it was carrying.
"For the next one I'll put a banner on saying, Going to Virginia City," Gray said.
The train car ran on the Erie-Lackawanna line in Pennsylvania and more recently, the Kettle Moraine tourist line in Wisconsin.
"When we get pieces of equipment from another railroad, we usually leave their name on it for the first year, in their honor," he said, though he added it will eventually be called the Gold Hill car.
The green and yellow car - the same colors the V&T uses now - is in fairly good condition, with only a few seats damaged and in need of some paint and other basic maintenance.
Gray said the 1914 Pullman car is 68 feet long and weighs 106,000 pounds.
It isn't the only car he's working on. In addition to the second car, which will be brought in later in the year, Gray has a yellow caboose he's fixing up.
"We started to go through it and I had to drop off a bit for this car," he said. "I'm going to use that for kids' birthday parties. It will be an inexpensive party to have your kid's birthday party in the caboose."
|Cordova Station Vancouver Island British Columbia Canada|