Western Regional Railroads - 1930's - 1940's
Virginia & Truckee Railway
& Carson & Colorado Railway (to 1900)
Nevada & California Railway {SP} (after 1900)

Click on an open link below or go to the RAILROAD INDEX to locate another Railroad
Chicago Chicago
Eastern Midwest
Southeast Southern Southwest Western

The Virginia & Truckee Railway (V&T) was a short line railroad in the state of Nevada which built a line to service the gold and silver boom town of Virginia City, Nevada, and connect to the state capitol at Carson City and north to connect with the transcontinental Central Pacific at what is now Reno, Nevada. Besides its line from Virginia City it later built a line south to Minden, Nevada to tap the timber and agricultural regions of Douglas County, Nevada as a support to mining communities and the mines and mills. As mining in the Virginia City area decreased the owners of the V&T, in 1880, created a narrow gauge subsidiary line, the Carson & Colorado to reach farther south to silver mining territory and to California borax deposits. The C&C reached Mina, Nevada and from there south, a total of 299 miles, to Keeler, California. The C&C was sold to the Southern Pacifi, in 1900. In 1906 the SP built a new railroad from Churchill on the C&C north to Hazen where it connected with the Central Pacific. The V&T was essentially cut off from the central and southern Nevada traffic. Except for occasional spurts the V&T started a slow slide downhill. In 1950, after some 80 years of passenger and freight hauling, the V&T slipped out of service. Portions of the line from Virginia City are currently operating as a tourist railroad.

Virginia & Truckee - 1931
Virginia City-Carson City-Reno (main)
Carson City to Minden (Minden branch)
Carson & Colorado (Sub/SP) dashed line

Virginia & Truckee
March 1, 1931

Short history of the Virginia & Truckee Railway (V&T)

1859 - Gold and silver a re found in the "Comstock Lode" in Virginia Citu one of the largest strikes ever on the American Continent.
1861 - The first charter for a Railroad was granted in November of 1861 under the name Virginia, Carson and Truckee Railroad Company. This road was to go through Eagle Valley north of Carson, through Washoe Valley and then up the Truckee River to the California border, with a spur line running down to the Capitol at Carson City. But unable to get financing, the owners had yet to lay a foot of track.
1862 - Another charter was granted in December of 1862, to the Virginia And Truckee Railroad Company, but no track had been laid under this charter either.
1863 - The population of Virginia City was more than 20,000.
1864 - William Sharon was picked to open the Virginia City branch of the Bank of California. Sharon had a sharp eye for financial opportunities. He pursued the acquisition of every mine and mill on the Comstock Lode.
cir 1865 - The Central Pacific portion of the transcontinental Railroad was nearing the summit of the Sierra Nevada's and would soon reach The Truckee Meadows at Lake's Crossing, (now Reno, Nevada). A rail connection from Virginia City to the Central Pacific would drastically cut the cost of hauling freight to the busy mining town. If the Bank of California could be the first to build such a Railroad they could take control of the freight business just as they had the mining and milling industries.
1867 - In May of 1867 Sharon grabbed the loose ball and incorporated the Virginia and Truckee Railroad Company with a route running from Virginia City, north along Lousetown road to the present site of Lockwood, 10 miles east of Reno, where it would connect with the Central Pacific. Factions in Storey County and Ormsby County offered Sharon $500,000 to run the Railroad through Carson City and up Washoe Valley to connect to the Central Pacific at Lake's Crossing. (Reno).
1868 - Sharon re-charted the Railroad accordingly in March.
1868 - In May the Central Pacific laid the transcontinental track into Lakes Crossing (Reno), 25 miles north of Carson City.
1869 - Grading of the V&T right-of-way began in February of 1869. By September, the route was ready for rail
1869 - December saw the first train from Carson City reach Gold Hill.
1870 - In January of 1870, the first official passenger train pulled into Virginia City on a curvy cicuitous route from Carson City.
1870 - As was so typical of the furious ups and downs of the mining industry, the gold and silver of the Comstock Lode appeared to be running out. Production was down. Prices of mine shares plummeted. The future of the newly completed Railroad did not look bright.
1870-72 - Many Sharon mines were sold.
1873 - V&T completed from Carson City to Lakes Crossing (Reno).
post 1873 - Then Jone's and Hayward's Crown Point mine hit pay dirt and Sharon was vindicated. Mine production increased steadily as did the profits of the Railroad. The Silver short line stayed busy and profitable hauling wood to the mines, ore to the mills, and consumer goods to the still thriving city.
1873-5 - More discoveries, including the "Big Bonanza" and new players enter the mining in and around Virginia City, and William Sharon loses control of mine properties. V&T remains prosperous however.
1874 - The V&T had 18 locomotives in service and was running 40 trains a day. Feeder lines were built to Yerington's wood flume at the south of Kings Canyon near Carson City and to the lumber yards at Clear Creek Canyon.
1875 - As the mines began to play out The V&T continued on in spite of the odds. Reconstruction of Virginia City after the devastating fire of 1875 kept the Railroad profitable.
1879 - It looked like the "Mighty Bonanza" was dying. The V&T hauled only 52,000 tons of ore that year, one fifth the amount of 1876. It was the beginning of hard times for the famous Silver Short Line.
1886 - The branch line to Silver City was abandoned.
1890 - The V&T stopped paying dividends.
1901 - Many miles of spur track were removed and sold as scrap to help with expenses and to avoid the new tax on track.
early 1900s - The freight business on the narrow gauge Carson and Colorado kept the V&T busy, even though the freight had to be transferred by hand from the narrow gauge C&C to the standard gauge V&T.

Carson & Colorado Railway (C&C)
1880 - Determined to keep the Railroad business alive the V&T owners began the construction of the narrow gauge Carson and Colorado Railroad to run from the V&T intersection at Moundhouse down into Bodie and Aurora, bustling mining towns to the south. But Bodie and Aurora soon went from boom to bust and the C&C branch line didn't help the V&T at all.
1880 - Grading of the C&C began and tracks reached from Moundhouse to Dayton, Nevada by November, 1880.
1881 - C&C reaches Churchill Canyon, 29 miles from Moundhouse.
1881 - C&C reaches Hawthorne, 100 miles from Moundhoxxxxuse.
1882-3 - C&C pushes south from Hawthorne through Mina and Tonopah Jct. to the silver mining town of Candaleria and into California to reach the borax mining areas at Keeler.
1882 - The C&C is renamed the Carson & California Railway.
post 1883 - As the silver mines play out the C&C main haulage becomes borax/.
1900 - In March the C&C was sold to Southern Pacific. They offered to buy the V&T but the price was too high.
early 1900s - Jim Butler discovered gold in Tonapah. The Tonapah Railroad was built to connect to the C&C . Soon the freight business on the narrow gauge Carson and Colorado kept the V&T busy,
even though the freight had to be transferred by hand from the narrow gauge C&C to the standard gauge V&T.
190 4 - To cut the expense of manual transfer of freight, Southern Pacific standardized the C&C rails from Moundhouse to Tonapah with a bypass cutting off Hawthorne.
1905 - The SP ran a line north to Hazen and connected the C&C at Churchill, and the C&C was now called the Nevada & cccccccccccc California Railroad. The N&C connected directly to the main line of the Central Pacific.
post 1905 - The Moundhouse to Churchill portion of the C&C lost significant traffic to the N&C cutoff north from Churchill.
1932 - The SP applied to have the old C&C line from Mouindhouse to Churchill abandoned. This action is resisted by local forces.
1934 - In April 1934 the line from Moundhouse to Churchill was abandoned and the weekly train through Dayton discontinued.
1935 - The tracks from Moundhouse to Churchill were torn up. The narrow gauge line south from Mina to Keeler, California stayed open.
1938 - In February the N&C was abandoned from Tonopah Jct., Nevada to Benton, California.
1943 - Line ferom Bentom to Laws was abandoned and from Laws to Keeler the N&C was renamed the Southern Pacific Narrow Gauge and operated as a mine railroad.
1947-60 - Line from Laws to Keeler struggles on later primarily as a rail buff attraction.
1960 - The little narrow gauge, once the 299 mile C&C, or the "slim Princess," was abandoned in 1960, except for the north standard gauge section from Hazen south to Thorne, north of Hawthorne, Nevada.

Carson & Colorado - cir 1904
Moundhouse (on V&T) to Mina.
Mote SP cutoff north of Churchill
Lines south to Keeler, Califoenia see below
C&C 1940
Southern Pacific - 1939
Southern Pacific timetable map, 1939, showning the N&C line from Hazen to Churchill and from Churchill to Tonopah Jct. on the old C&C. Note the abandonment from Tonopah Jct. to Benton, Californmia, which occured in 1938, and also tthe abandonment west of Cjurchill to the V&T, which occuredin 1934.. The SP caligraphers were quick to correct the timetable map. Also note the standard gauge line the SP built from Mojave to Owento to reach the N&C and the borax miness.

The Later years on the Virginia & Truckee
1905 - When the SP built the shorter line from Churchill to Hazen on the main line the V&T was bypassed completely and lost all the freight from Tonapah and the mining communities to the south.
1906 - In a last ditch effort to remain afloat, tracks were ran down to Minden from Carson City and in August of 1906 the V&T opened its lines to the agricultural and cattle freight from Douglas County, south of Carson City.
11910-17 - Original owners of V&T pass away and truck traffic cuts deeply into V&T revenue. the majority of the ore cars had been scrapped and many of the other cars sold. The Railroad continued to decline as the automobile and truck industry expanded.
1922 - The United Comstock Mining Company built a large cyanide mill at American Flat that still stands today, and once again the V&T experienced a short rejuvenation. But the mines in Virginia City were depleted.
1924 - The passenger service to Virginia City was down graded to mixed trains after 55 years of continual service.
1926 the American Flat Mill closed and left the V&T again running on the deep and generous pockets of its owner, Ogden Mills.
1931 - Passenger service down to one train between Reno, Carson City and Virginia City and one motor car between Carson City and Minden. Service was supplemented by auto stages on the above runs and on to Yerington and Hawthorne from Minden.
1935 - The Crown Point trestle in Gold Hill, the famous symbol of the Comstock, was torn down to mine the rich ore beneath.
1937 - Ogden Mills dies and V&T is in receivership.
1938 - The V&T announced its intention to close down the Railroad. They began selling off equipment as antiques. June 4 of 1938 marked the last freight train to Virginia City. By then the trips to Virginia City were excursion trains for Railroad buffs to the Comstock Lode.
1941 - The tracks to Virginia City were finally torn out.
1949 - The V&T applied for permission to abandon its entire line. The petition was approved in February 1950.
1950 - The official end of the V & T was to be May 31, 1950.

Restoration of the V&T.
1976 - Robert Gray - a businessman and railroad buff from California - seeing the potential in the rebirth of this historic monument to man's ingenuity - brought the V & T back to life. Old right-of-ways were purchased, steam trains were renovated and the V & T entered a new life with vigor and enthusiasm as an excursion train for history and railroad fans visiting Virginia City and the once mighty Comstock Lode.
1990s - The Virginia & Truckee Railroad is running from the "F" Street Station west of St. Mary's Church in Virginia City down to Gold Hill and the Gold Hill Depot, newly renovated by the Comstock Restoration Foundation. Possible plans for the future include extending the track past St. Mary's to the old freight depot to the north and down to Moundhouse and Carson City to the south. The Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City boasts many finely restored original V&T engines and cars.
Our Sources
Private Collection of Richard R. Parks(rp)
Wikipedia the free Encyclopedia [web](wik)
Official Guide- various editions
The History of the Crookedest Short Line in America, the Virginia and Truckee Railroad. by Don Bush
History of the Carson & Colorado Railroad, Dayton Valley Historical Society
To contact our contributors please make a request by Email to: Richard Parks


Your source for 1930's - 1940's Passenger Railroad Information

Railroad Index Back to Top Contact Us

Web Page Written and Maintained by Richard Parks
Copyright Richard Parks, July 12, 2009, revised November 11, 2011