Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City

Pacific Lumber Company 35 at the Nevada State Railroad Museum
Klaus Nahr / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

The Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City is a first class facility everyone will enjoy visiting. Train, steam locomotive, and railroading history buffs will find a little bit of heaven here, while every other adult and kid can be entertained and educated at this excellent museum.

What You Will See 

The Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City features the history of railroading in northern Nevada. There are two big stories - the building of the first transcontinental railroad between 1863 and 1869, and the Virginia and Truckee Railroad (V & T), born during the Comstock era to haul ore and supplies for the mines in Virginia City.

There are 65 locomotives and cars in the museum collection. Over half of them were built before 1900. There are restored engines and cars on display in the Jacobsen Interpretive Center, plus several that are operational and take visitors on excursion rides around the vicinity of the museum grounds. The V & T Railroad is represented with 31 pieces that operated on the line. There are excellent displays, including video movies, inside the Jacobsen Interpretive Center that follow the building of the transcontinental railroad over the Sierra Nevada to Reno and then across northern Nevada to the meeting with the eastern branch at Promontory Point, Utah, on May 10, 1869.

A relatively new feature (work ongoing since 2006) at the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City is an exhibit of Nevada railroads during the 20th century. The exhibit is an HO-scale (1/87th actual size) model railroad with locomotive and rail car models donated by the family of the late Kel Aiken.

Historic Cars and Engines

The museum houses two unique pieces. The McKeen Motor Car No. 22 first ran on the V & T line in 1910 and has been beautifully restored to operational condition. This McKeen Motor Car is the only operational unit of its kind in the world. The car is open to museum visitors and available for excursion rides on select dates during the year.

One of the most famous steam locomotives in the world lives at the museum - the V & T No. 22 "Inyo." This engine has been meticulously restored and spends most of its time on display inside the Jacobsen Interpretive Center. Once a year, on the 4th of July, it is brought out and steamed up for visitors to enjoy. You have probably seen the "Inyo" and not even realized it. The engine has played a starring role in numerous Hollywood westerns, including "Wells Fargo," "The Texans," "Union Pacific," "Young Tom Edison," "The Desperados,"Meet Me in St.

Louis," "The Virginian," "Duel in the Sun," "Carson City," and several more.

Things To Do

Ride the trains - Excursion trains run from Wabuska Station from May to December. Check the operating schedule for fares, times, and dates. The schedule also shows the equipment involved, be it steam locomotive, the McKeen Motor Car, or the Edward's Motor Car. For more information, call (775) 687-6953.

Visit the Jacobsen Interpretive Center - This is the indoor part of the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City, housing interpretive displays about the building of the transcontinental railroad, the history of the V & T Railroad, and other displays and artifacts about railroading in northern Nevada. The big feature here is the magnificent "Inyo," a completely restored Baldwin steam locomotive built in 1875.

Stroll the museum grounds - You can visit Wabuska Station and see how train passengers boarded, departed, and arrived on the rail lines many years ago. There are rail car displays and the restoration building, where you can check out work in progress on a variety of railroad cars, locomotives, and other rolling stock. When not running excursions, pieces like the McKeen Motor Car are available for visitors to board and tour. A handcar is sometimes available for you to hop on and pump up and down a short section of track.

Getting to the Nevada State Railroad Museum

The Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City is located at 2180 South Carson Street, Carson City, NV 89701. To get there from Reno, take I580 / U.S. 395 south to it's current end (as of September, 2012) at Fairview Drive (Exit 38). Turn right and stay in the right lane. After a few blocks, go straight through the intersection with South Carson Street, then turn left into the free museum parking area. It's about 33 miles from Reno.

Hours and Fares at the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City

The museum is open Thursday through Monday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults, free for museum members and children under 18. Train rides are extra, as are special event excursions like Labor Day and the Santa Train in December.

Friends of the Nevada State Railroad Museum (FNSRM)

Friends of the Nevada State Railroad Museum (FNSRM) is a volunteer organization that "provides resources and services for the Museum, including fund raising, advocacy, and volunteer work ranging from visitor service to restoration and operation of the equipment in its collection." Without FNSRM volunteers, the museum would be hard pressed to provide the excellent experience visitors enjoy. Learn more from the FNSRM website, including how to join the organization and what volunteer opportunities are available.

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