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Last Train To Carson

The V&T passes through verdant Washoe Valley on its journey to Carson City

You could take a train from New York City to Carson City up until May 30, 1950 (service all the way to Virginia City ended in 1938). Then it was gone forever. It’s surprising it lasted as long as it did as Virginia City was in decline since well before the turn of the century. It wasn’t until 1921 that a surfaced road was built between Reno and Carson City so the railroad provided an important transportation link between Reno and Minden.

On May 30th the celebrated line passed quietly into the local lore of the Comstock and not many noticed. The Reno Gazette reported that Train No. 1 pulled out of the Southern Pacific depot at 7:30 am with only 40 of it’s available 60 seats filled. “Engine No. 27  and three cars and a caboose headed towards Carson to wind up a faithful career of 81 years. The only formal farewells will be provided by the children of the Brown-Washoe schools at Steamboat Springs as the the train stops at the station at 5;30 on it’s last return trip to Reno. It’s fitting as Steamboat is the only remaining stop on the Reno-Carson run. Huffaker’s, Brown, Washoe City, Franktown, Mill Station and Lakeview have all closed previously.”

The paper reported that several “old-timer” employees, current and retired,  manned the Carson Station and the train for the last day. The event also marked the last mail delivered by a short-line railway in the western states.

It was reported that the railroad has received many letters postmarked from all over the United States and around the world since the closing was announced. In the recent years not a small amount of the passenger traffic has been by railroad tourists from around the country.

It was just a couple years ago that we lost some of the last remnants of the line in the fire that destroyed the trestles in Washoe Canyon, north of Highway 395 at the north end of the valley. It’s great that we can still experience the V&T with the rebuilding of the line from Mound House to Virginia City.

The V&T pauses at the location of the Franktown Depot where only the water tower remained. In the background is the Flying ME Dude Ranch popular with divorees in the 1930s and 40s.
Photos above by Al Rose

“Then and Now” of a Virginia and Truckee train passing through Washoe Canyon in North Washoe Valley in the 1880s.
The Now photo was taken in 2009 before the trestles were destroyed by fire.

The folks at http://www.virginiatruckee.com assisted me in correcting some inaccurate information in this article and I appreciate it!


  1. Rhonda Glisson says:

    I really think that bringing todays train down from Virginia City to Carson City and around the 5th street prison would be a great tourist attraction. Makes more sense then narrowing Carson Street to bring people in. You look at South Lake Tahoe and they have so many people there walking next to the iron rod fencing and enjoying all the shops and resturants there with five lanes of traffic next to them. We need things to bring people here not make them not want to be on the main road through town.

  2. Jim Lohse says:

    Hi, the train is not likely to come any further into Carson City anytime soon, thought they have acquired land in the Carson River Canyon they are struggling just to continue subsidizing operation of the existing line from room taxes. They just don’t have the additional $15 million or so just to bring it to the planned Drako Way depot and likely will need to sell that depot location just to fund operations, just my guess that they need asset sales to fund the Commission activity.

    Now the private V&T (the operator on the gov’t line from Gold Hill to Carson City) has just acquired the 1870 original depot on F Street in Virginia City and should have that opened up in two weeks for Labor Day 2013.

    One last note I would have to dig up research I did a few years ago but I am fairly certain the last run was on May 31, 1950, not May 30.

    Great article! Perhaps you would put a link to the V&T website at http://virginiatruckee.com? I will suggest that the people who run the official Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/virginiatruckeerailroad should post this article on their page.

  3. Jim Lohse says:

    My comment from yesterday seems to be lost.

    I did post this page on the V&T Facebook page and someone pointed out your first sentence needs repair, “You could take a train from New York City to Virginia City up until May 30, 1950.”

    This was only true until 1938 when service to Virginia City was stopped. The tracks were ripped up in 1941.

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