Large Scale Central

Nevada trip 2021

The president of the V&T RR Historical Society is Don Ball, who has an absolutely amazing HO layout of the Stockton and Copperopolis:

Back to the trip report.

Wednesday was Donner Memorial State Park, where we saw the small (but really nice) museum and walked some beautiful trails. Unfortunately, the Donner Pass road was closed for highway work, so we couldn’t go up to see China Wall, the CP tunnels & snowsheds there, ancient petroglyphs and Rainbow bridge. All located in the same place! Bummer. But our walks were great. Here’s Donner Lake.

We next had a great time in the tiny historic town of Genoa, where we had a drink in the oldest “thirst parlor” in Nevada. Really cool place.

Genoa Bar & Saloon

Not as much fall color as there will be in a week or two, but enough to make some gorgeous scenery more gorgeous.

Linda got some fabulous yarn in a local shop (in Minden). And while in Genoa (famous as the earliest settlement in NV, and start-point for Snowshoe Thompson’s mail carrying across the Sierras), we ate in a beautiful Victorian house which has been wonderfully restored and decorated.

The Pink House

That was Wednesday.

Wow, that is quite a railroad!

this photo caught my eye:

I believe that is an ‘Inspection Engine’ Jim.

Thursday was the start of the VTRRHS conference, where things kicked off with a morning train ride from Virginia City to Mound House and back. 2.5 hour round trip, and box lunch was included. Here’s a shot of the east portal of the American Flat tunnel.

After that, Linda and I walked around Virginia City, bought some polished rocks at a rock shop there, and had a drink at the famous Bucket of Blood Saloon.

That evening, I did a presentation on my V&T snow plow research and model making which began a year ago.

V&T Snow Plow Model

There were lots of great presentations at this “modeler’s workshop.” This is a sort of optional thing for attendees, yet we had a practically full house (~85 people).

Friday was the official start of the conference sessions, and there were great lectures that day. However, I needed to bail out for a more in-depth investigation of the Derrick #50’s trucks. These came with the Old Tucson Studios acquisitions managed by Tom Gray. What a great guy! When we talked on Tuesday, he’d offered to pick a truck up to photo it from the underside. And this was his best opportunity.

Here’s the truck on the rail:

And here’s its underbelly.

Above that lowest beam (which swings from side to side) are a number of springs which support the actual transom, which bears the pivot point and bearings that the car body ride upon. There’s a lot going on with swing trucks! And I’ll be doing a mini project with these ones hopefully, in the near future.

Tom also acquired a beautiful and original V&T switch stand – so rare! And, this is a 3-way V&T harp stand, even rarer. We might be able to pinpoint what switch it operated, we’ll see.

After I took a bunch more pics there, I hoofed it back for more conference sessions. Unfortunately, I had to miss the one on a Model T conversion to a the V&T inspection car “engine” 24. Ryan Blake has replacement flanged wheels so that this will work on the rail, just like its predecessor.

Saw some other great presentations… had a great day.

Saturday morning, I was first up to bat with my presentation on the Mound House Turbine Windmill.

Here’s a link to that project, which started over 2 years ago. Though it seemed to be well received, I am very relieved to have that talk behind me, I can tell you!

Turbine Windmill Project

After that came more sessions, and later the banquet where the keynote speech was on the Comstock mines, quite near to my heart. Speaker was Joe Curtis, a local and renowned Comstock historian.

Sunday (today) is our last conference day, which always involves a morning field trip, after which everyone goes home. Today’s field trip was to NV St RR Museum (NSRM) to check out current projects there and ride the McKeen Car.

They’re finishing their rebuild of the V&T’s loco transfer car, a seriously heavy-duty car with massive trucks. I reported on these trucks a couple years ago, when all many the metal bits and pieces were separate and being prepped. But now, the trucks are assembled. Note the dates on the wheel and journal castings.

The various sills and other beams are all cut and prepped with interlocking finger joints, ready to be malleted together and tensioned to one another with numerous tie rods. This is how the derrick frame was made, BTW.

Two amazing F gauge models were there, the foreground one being this transfer car. Wendell Huffman, curator of the museum, worked with the modeler to get every piece correct – including all the bits inside the massive swing trucks. As I understand it, these kits will be offered through Iron Creek Shops.

Of course, I’m always in awe of the Glenbrook here.

They’re ventilating her boiler and overhauling her tender trucks after a series of runs with the Eureka, in the epic “Victorian Iron Horse Round Up” At The Cumbres & Toltec Railroad a few weeks ago.

Check these out.

Interesting that both of these are offered in the current Bachman Spectrum lineup. I really want that Glenbrook…

We were told that their wonderful 0-4-2 Porter, the Joe Douglas (which operated in Dayton, right down the road), might be slated for rebuilding to operating condition! Here’s Joe and Linda.

We had our final train ride of the trip on the really cool McKeen car. The V&T purchased this ~1910. Though spending many decades as a de-trucked diner and later hardware store, the NSRM was able to acquire and rebuild her, including re-making here trucks and engine. About 150 of these were manufactured, but this is the only restored & operating one.

They took us out on the museum’s loop, did a couple rounds, gave a lecture, did another round on the loop, took us back. A great final train ride, #4 for Linda on our trip, and #5 for me since I snuck in that Tuesday (?) morning one. Here’s a view out of the “stern” of this ship on rails.

It’s been a great trip.

I’d like to encourage everyone and anyone to hook up with a railroad of your choice (bonus suggestion: a railroad in your area, unlike my situation) and get involved with them. There might be a “society,” or a “friends” group, or a less formal association. It can lead to so many very cool experiences! Annual conferences (as with me), monthly lectures, less or more frequent voluntary work in the shops, research from afar; you can steer your involvement to whatever suits your lifestyle and inclinations.



What a great trip!

Thanks Ray!

Since our coming back home on Monday was delayed because of Southwest cancellations, we were grounded in Reno for a couple days. So I have to add a post script to the trip.

After learning of the cancellation and getting a car, Southwest did us good by putting us up at the Peppermill for two nights. An pretty impressive joint!

After that, Monday afternoon, we went to the Keck Museum at UNR and saw the amazing gem & mineral collection there, also the incredible Mackay silver service there.

Mackay is a Nevada hero, one of the few Comstockers who did make money, yet gave back to the people in a number of ways – including the founding of the Mackay School of Mines there, which I felt like enrolling in then and there.

Tuesday we chilled in the AM and went to Pyramid Lake. I’ve read of the battle between the Piute Indians and the white vigilantes (and later army troupers) a couple of times, but it was good to see the gouged terrain of the Truckee River there, because that was how the various ambushes & cornerings happened.

The Pyramid Lake Museum & Visitor’s Center is great. This area is all part of the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation. The visitor’s center is a museum, and a very welcoming one. The director talked with Linda and me, and wanted our thoughts on what we experienced there. We had a really great talk with her.

Here’s a shot right outside the museum. The mountains got dusted with the same snow we had on Monday, when we were driving from Carson to the Reno airport. I really love the high desert!

Here’s a shot of Pyramid Lake. The “pyramid” is a tufa shaped like that, circled in the distance. A tufa is a deposit built by a calcium-laden geyser of sorts (but look it up if you want an accurate description). Other tufa are in the foreground.

We didn’t go all the way around the lake, just along the west side. And as sort of closure of this report, here’s Linda and I standing on that western shore.

So, that’s about it.

Thanks everyone for following along with me, it’s been great having friends to report back to. I hope there was a sufficient amount of railroadishness along the way!


PS, here’s the souvenir I brought back for myself: a small portable scale, complete with weights in ounces, grams, grains and even drachmas. I’ll bet it had some gold in its pans at some point.

Thanks for the entertaining journey you took us along on, Cliff! Very fun…

Hope your delay didn’t cause other problems, you know, like work…

Jim Rowson said:

Thanks for the entertaining journey you took us along on, Cliff! Very fun…

Hope your delay didn’t cause other problems, you know, like work…

Much appreciated, Jim!

Yeah, I’m playing catchup at work still, but it was nice to have a couple more free days with my wife before we both had to face our respective realities. Denial is underrated! (


That’s a great souvenir!

I only just caught up with this thread - late to the party again.

A great trip and most enlightening. I liked your souvenir, worth its weight in gold. (