V&T commission hesitates to swap for a historic baggage car

Virginia & Truckee Railway commissioners are hesitant to accept a historic V&T baggage car from a California locomotive association until they know its condition and how much it will cost to move it to Carson City.

If the 1911 Southern Pacific car is operational, and in perfect condition, it could be worth $12,000 to $15,000, the commission's attorney said Monday.

"If not, it's not worth the price of hauling it up here," attorney Mike Rowe said.

The Pacific Locomotive Association, of Walnut Creek, Calif., requested use of the commission's steam locomotive in exchange for the 40-foot baggage car.

The commission purchased the McCloud No. 18 locomotive early last year from the McCloud Railway Co., which operated near Mount Shasta in Northern California. The locomotive is in storage there until the commission is ready to move it.

Rowe said the association would like to use the No. 18 for two excursions, which could be too costly for the commission. Every day in operation is taken off the locomotive's certification. The No. 18 has 1,472 days left on its certification, Rowe said. The association requested to use it for two weekends.

The commission directed the attorney to arrange for an inspection of the car's condition. Rowe said he also has to determine the cost of transporting the car by truck from the San Francisco area. The weight of the car must be evaluated because older, heavier cars coupled to the steam engine would cut down on the number of passengers on the reconstructed tourist railroad.

"If the car is really heavy and not in operational condition, it's no deal," Rowe said.

If it's a good deal, then the commission could convert the car into a handicapped accessible coach. It could also be used to house a concession stand.

Commission Chairman Bob Hadfield said his focus is on rebuilding the railroad, not on purchasing equipment, but he will consider cars that have a historical value. According to the locomotive association, this car is one of only two of its type left. The second one is also owned by the association.

"I can support it, as long as it doesn't distract from building the railroad," Hadfield said.

The $40 million V&T project is expected to be completed in 2009. Tourists will ride the 18 miles between Carson City and Virginia City by 2010.

• Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at bbosshart@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.


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